[I]ndie films are often talked about for the grand issues that they deal with. But Hemant Gaba’s directorial debut Shuttlecock Boys entices with its simplicity. The best part of the film are its characters—the shuttlecock boys—who are surprisingly real in depiction and effortless in their performances.
There is Loveleen (Manish Nawani) who works in a call center and dreams of buying a red Swift car; Manav (Aakar Kaushik), a small time chef from Amritsar who is faced with a shut down-restaurant, Pankaj (Alok Kumar) who has been struggling to clear his Chartered Accountancy exams and Gaurav (Vijay Prateek) who sells credit cards but wants to marry his demanding girlfriend.
They are the regular, middle class boys with no extraordinary ambitions; ubiquitous characters that one comes across every day. They are struck in the grind of life: unfulfilling jobs and unfulfilled expectations of loved ones. What brings them together is the game of badminton that they indulge in every night. Shuttlecock Boys turns them into heroes of sorts when they embark on a journey of setting up their catering enterprise: seemingly non-fanciful but a heroic act indeed for characters that are so grounded in reality. This is what makes watching Shuttlecock Boys a very authentic experience. Though the film is predictable, one smiles one’s way through the journey of the boys as their relatable chemistry unfolds on screen.
The shortcoming of the film, ironically, rests with its characters as well. Though wonderfully conceptualized, the filmmaker falls short of exploring them satisfactorily. The characters are one-dimensional and the viewer gets to know little about their lives outside the need of the plot. They have each been endowed with unique personality traits but they come in handy only for the execution of the central plot—the catering business. Pankaj’s over-expecting parents, Gaurav’s nagging girlfriend, Loveleen’s lousy job and Manav’s demanding family back in Amritsar are never explored enough to give a well-rounded view of their lives.
The style of filmmaking is very basic and devoid of any visual gimmickry. The music in the film is heart-lifting, just the right kind of music to be used in films where characters need motivation.
Shutlecock Boys is a simple and basic exercise in filmmaking that engages and doesn’t disappoint.