We could dismiss Golconda High School using two phrases - Chak De India
- but the movie deserves better, so we'll begin with two words: well-played.
In one of the film's most intense scenes, Golconda High School's suave, frank English-speaking French-bearded cricket coach explains to his team that machismo is not about slapping your thigh, twirling your mustache and roaring bloody murder. The scene, as expected, draws some applause.
Unfortunately, the movie faces a real threat from the very things that the scene sneers at - the stuff that sees crowds actually thronging theatres. The film has a less-tried concept, tries to pack in substance in its 2-and-a-half-hour run time, and has some clever screenplay to back it up. But then, its flaws pull it down to the realm of entertainment as ordinary as a lot of other options.
Basically, Sampath (Sumanth), an ex cricketing school champion with a blemished past, must spruce up the rowdy team of Golconda High School in order to save the institution from the greedy management's ambitions. The school's principal (Tanikella Bharani) has requested him to do the impossible - get the loser team to win the inter-school championship.
The rest is a ball-by-ball replay of every sports movie that you've seen. The predictability of the plot might not have mattered, if the story didn't slacken at certain points, and if there was a crisper plot. Where this could have been a high-decibel inspirational tale of a pack of difficult kids being mentored towards realizing their true potential, the makers choose to go quiet on most fronts. It's a let down, considering that this was the team that made the much smarter Ashta Chemma.
One of the things that's surprising for a film of this league is the unsubtle "villains". This is one track that becomes increasingly unrealistic, with the bad guys actually behaving like children at times.
Also, what was the whole English teacher bit about? Playing a well-dressed teacher who has the hots for the sports coach is something that any
actress could have been made to do, and the teenagish Swathi hardly looks the part. More importantly, it's an inconsequential diversion from the main story.
The better parts of the flick are the performances and the slick urban dialogue. It's nice to watch Sumanth in roles like these, and in GHS, he refreshingly turns on the charm he once turned on in a role
that remains his best to date.
Here, he plays a part that needs an actor more than a star, and Sumanth is that rare face that can effectively - and quietly - pull off the role of the soft-spoken yet tough-speaking mentor. He's been given some rather good lines, and he's good at being spontaneous with them.
The kids, they're each a pleasant discovery. They've all clearly been well-trained and deliver mature performances. And it helps that they share an easy and pleasant chemistry with the protagonist. Tanikella Bharani is in a simple avuncular role, Subbaraju is good in his exaggerated villain part, and Shafi deals well with his comical bad-humoured teacher role. Swathi, like we said, has very little to do.
The music is interesting, and the few songs don't break the pace of the narrative much, except for the romantic number. The visuals are surprisingly dull and second-rate. The sports action has been filmed well, though, and never does the on-field drama lose pace.
If GHS were a school student, its report card wouldn't look bad, except for the glaring "Can do better" remark.