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Loser Review: This Sports Drama Struggles To Overcome Cliches


Loser, a Zee5 series, starring Priyadarshi, Shashank, and Kalpika, explores the lives of sportspersons in different time frames, and how fate brings them all together. In the opening sequence of Loser, directed by Abhilash Reddy, Suri (Priyadarshi), a rifle shooter, takes aim at the target; however, before he can fire, his mind is clogged with scores of voices. These are voices of people in his life, who have stood by him, helped him, criticized him, let him down, challenged him, and questioned him and his dreams. The answer to all those voices will be defined by what Suri does in the next few minutes, and whether he can muster the courage and focus to hit the target.

In those moments, Suri has the look of a man whose past has crushed his dreams, but his next shot could become a ray of hope for him. The difference between Suri and Priyadarshi blurs even before you notice them. And you can read a million other things just from the way Priyadarshi looks into the camera. He has the look of a man, whom we often see but ignore, who has a lot to say if we sat with him to listen to his story.

The web series is largely about the unsung sportspersons in our country, who were at the cusp of glory or a big opportunity, before they were denied all that in a flash. And to illustrate how the system has failed to recognise several promising talents, Abhilash Reddy focuses on the lives of three people – Suri, Ruby, Wilson – and their ups and downs.

While Suri’s story unfolds in the present day, where he makes a living by painting walls while waiting for a chance to compete at the national level in the Rifle shooting tournament, we see Ruby’s journey as a young girl aspiring to be a badminton player in the mid ‘90s. Her father is a butcher in the Old city area in Hyderabad and he dreams of migrating to Pakistan some day.

Growing up in a conservative household, Ruby often struggles to strike a balance between her dreams and her reality; and this creates a lot of friction between her and her father. However, when he realises that there’s money to be made if Ruby makes it to the national team, he encourages her and ditches the idea of going to Pakistan. And then, in the mid-80’s, there’s Wilson, a 30 year old cricketer in Hyderabad, who impresses quite a few people in the selection committee with his bowling skills. But his ego stops him from achieving his goal.

When he loses the chance to make it big, Wilson becomes an alcoholic and pushes everyone, including his wife, away from him. Their lives intersect in the course of the narrative, and Suri’s journey becomes the sum of their failures and dreams.

For a series that is so earnest about what it wants to say, that dreams, despite all the hard work, passion, and commitment you exhibit, come with a price, Loser is riddled with plenty of cliches. There are plenty of low-hanging fruits, which are either portrayed as personality traits or conflicts, and after a point, the plot itself becomes so obvious that nothing comes as a big surprise.

Suri is told, repeatedly, that rifle shooting is a gentleman’s game and it costs a bomb. While he struggles to raise money, his brother turns out to be, not surprisingly, a troublemaker; his girlfriend is his only pillar of strength, his best friend stands by him through thick and thin. If this isn’t cliched enough, Ruby’s entire storyline, where her father’s patriotism is linked to her daughter’s rise to fame, the patriarchal set-up, and the domestic abuse in her adulthood, feels all too familiar.

Wilson’s fall from grace is portrayed well, but it’s anybody’s guess why Abhilash and his team of writers would weave a key conflict between two players around a woman, which feels rather contrived and deliberate to make it ‘look’ different from other sports dramas in the recent past.

Loser is an assortment of several familiar themes and moral conflicts, and yet, there’s something about the storytelling that works in the end. It stems from the belief that it’s a story worth telling and all that honesty percolates into the performances of the lead cast. This makes a great deal of difference because this is a story of people struggling to find a closure, their anger and disappointment, and ultimately, a hope that they will find peace in the triumph of someone like them.

In fact, this subtext is far more interesting than the story itself, and all the lead actors step into their characters so well that they make you overlook the cliches in the story. While Priyadarshi and Kalpika deliver strong performances, Pavani Gangireddy, Annie, Shashank and Komalee Prasad make you sit upright and take notice of their nuanced portrayal of their characters.

The narrative is contrived to an extent that the worlds of these different characters intersperses for the sake of convenience, but you can’t find fault with the intention of the director, writers, and the actors because they sell the idea with utmost sincerity. In the end, Loser leaves you with quite a bit to think about, despite all its cliches, and makes you root for all those unsung heroes, whose dreams never came true.

The Loser review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.

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