Reading the screenplay, one can imagine Gold ticking off all the right boxes. Reema Kagti does everything she could to make a compelling sports drama. But Gold remains a superficial film, that almost never engages.
Comparisons with Chak De! India (2007) are inevitable. In this case, it’s easy to see why the film never manages the same impact. For one, we’re never invested so deeply with any of the characters. Akshay Kumar’s Tapan Das is the driving force in putting together a victorious hockey team. What is his motivation to reach this goal? The film establishes that he wants India to win a gold medal as a free nation in the first Olympics that follow her Independence from Britain. But we have no context on why this is so important for him. He’s not fought any battles. Instead, while the freedom struggle rages on, he’s shown to be drinking away his time, waiting for the Olympics to begin. It is then not possible to then be invested in such a character’s passionate patriotism.
In fact, the only time you are drawn in is when a mob attacks Vineet Kumar’s muslim character Imtiaz. He is India’s national captain, but is mercilessly attacked by a mob in Amritsar as part of the religious riots that marked the beginning of the partition horrors. His pain is obvious. And when he loses the game as the Pakistan captain, his loss is evident, and relatable.
Sometimes, a good story also needs a good villain. A scheming team manager contrives to play this part at times, but he is too small a counterfoil for so grand a plot. There are many obstacles on the way to glory – partition, funds, in-fighting, egos, and sometimes the opponents themselves. They come and go, and none accumulate to become a genuine conflict. Consequently, there are no real highs or lows in the plot. Great dramas need a struggle to define themselves, and Gold has none to show for itself.
You can see the film is lavishly mounted. No expense is spared in establishing the setting and the era it is set in. Art direction is top notch, even managing to sustain when the film moves to England in the second half. In fact, it is the Indian portions that looked staged, almost fake. The sets and locations are too perfect. A little bit grime, some seeds of reality, would have made the film more authentic.
To be perfectly fair, Gold could have worked better in a lot of things had it not been preceded by Chak De. Everything it does or does not do is immediately measured against Shimit Amin’s classic. But then it also has to be said that Gold follows Chak De’s template to the T. And in doing so, leaves us no option but to make the comparison.
Hindi, Sports, Period, Drama, Colour