[W]hy do you name a film Cycle Kick? Because the first half of the film deals with cycle and the latter half with football! And that is not the only bit where the film disappoints. It is Vittorio De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves rendered in an Indian milieu; where the father-son story has been transposed on two orphaned brothers living in a village by the river-side. Much to the dismay of the viewers, the writer lacks originality to the point that one of the professions of the elder brother is putting up Bollywood posters around the village, for which a bicycle would be vital. Only if my brother had a bicycle, he could put up 50 posters everyday instead of 25, the younger brother wishes.
Indian stories cannot be devoid of miracles. Here, the protagonist doesn’t need to pawn bedsheets to buy a bicycle; the two brothers find a bicycle one day by the side of the river which goes on to become their lifeline. And then comes a day when it is stolen. Contrary to one’s first guess, it is not stolen while the protagonist is at work; rather when he is working his way up the tiles of a roof to reach the window from which his beloved steals glimpses of him. It is an Indian story, one mustn’t forget. But the similarities do not stop here. Our protagonist even steals a bicycle to even out the loss of his bicycle being stolen, but he faithfully goes back to return it once his conscience pricks. Most strikingly, some of the memorable scenes from Bicycle Thieves, where the father-son duo search for the stolen bicycle have been unabashedly replicated in Cycle Kick. The only novel thing in this film is the fact that we also get to see the world through the thief’s eyes.
One could not sense any vibes of originality even in the second half of the film. When it’s about a government college football team taking on the team of St. Joseph’s, “the classic underdog story” as a character in the film calls it, one can’t tell between this and other films based on a similar premise, be it Iqbal, Lagaan or Chak De India. The sport be changed, essentially these films have the same kind of effect on one’s adrenaline level, as the underdog scores the ultimate goal. Can one overlook the fact here that Cycle Kick director Shashi Sudigala had assisted Nagesh Kukunoor on Iqbal? Mildly put, the debutant director seems a bit too “inspired” by the films he has seen or worked on before.
Ramu (Nishan Nanaiah) and Deva (Dwij Yadav) are the two orphaned brothers looking for their stolen cycle which leads them to another young man in the village–Ali (Sunny Hinduja). Later on, after a decisive football match, their coach (Tom Alter) decides that they should share the bicycle between them. The animosity gradually turns into friendship and the two of them come together to defeat the conceited St. Josephites in a football match. The performances by the debutant actors from FTII, Nishan and Sunny, too fail to impress, blame the overall effect of the film.
The writer-director was also under the impression that he could package all the ingredients one has ever seen in a Hindi film, to create another successful one; which unfortunately doesn’t come across even as a half-decent attempt. It has the age-old window-romance between the hero-heroine clubbed with an old Jagjit Singh ghazal, a villainous brother, a ‘I-hate-my-step-mom’ story, few chase sequences, lame hockey-stick fights between gangs of college boys, and a football match climax. Basically, it is a hodge-podge film replete with lack of originality and poor dialogues resulting into yet another disappointment after Subhash Ghai’s Love Express last week.
The punchline of the film: Kick or be ready to be Kicked! What the audience feels at the end is anybody’s guess!