In this season of biopics celebrating the lives of celebrated personalities, Jayasurya-starrer Captain stands out for the brilliant choice of the subject as well as the craftsmanship with which debutant G Prajesh Sen has rolled out the grand project.
Captain is undoubtedly more than a tribute to V P Sathyan, former Indian football team captain, who ended his life in front of a speeding train in July 2016. The film is a paean to a life that the one who lived it considered a failure.
Prajesh Sen neatly employs flashback to go deep into the professional and personal lives of Sathyan which were absolutely inseparable. The film begins with the news report of Sathyan's unfortunate and untimely death and moves forward to explore the reasons that led to the tragedy, leaving not many gaps in the narrative.
In the process of narrating the eventful life laced with several episodes of success, that are as sweet as Sathyan's favorite jalebis, and the excruciating pain of a childhood injury that followed the footballer throughout his career, the filmmaker takes us through the peripheries of Indian football. However, the film devotes itself to portray Sathyan's love for the game, which he considered his first wife, and the terrific stages of depression that he had to encounter after it became almost impossible to continue to play.
At an early stage of the film, Kerala coach Jaffer (Ranji Panicker) tells Sathyan that the longevity of a footballer is that of his legs. It would have been natural for a player like Sathyan to think that a leg no more useful on the ground meant the end of his life.
Jayasurya plays Sathyan with extraordinary caution and the transformation in the body language of the character at two different stages of his life has come out well. His dedication and commitment to the character is evident throughout the film. Captain is also the story of Anitha, Sathyan's wife, who stood with him through the thick and thin of his life. Anu Sithara has done a brilliant job as Anitha, playing the romantic as well as the suffering woman.
Prajesh has succeeded in adding the perfect amount of sporting moments to the narrative. The final of Santosh Trophy in 1992 where Kerala lifted the cup after a gap of 19 years has been shot in length but without losing its thrill.
The film also evolves to be a fitting tribute to Malayali's love for football in the pre-ISL era when a chief minister, as showed in the film, dared to sign an order giving holiday on account of Santosh Trophy win even before the final started. Sidhique plays 'Maithanam,' an ardent football fan who represents Malabar's football fever.
The character with his insights into the game and the extraordinary looks attains the stature of a philosophical being. While picking up the key moments in the life of Sathyan, the director has given ample space for the character of Sharaf Ali who shared a warm friendship with the former. However, other contemporaries of Sathyan, including I M Vijayan and C V Pappachan have been left outside the frames, perhaps not to stretch the narrative too much.
The songs composed by Gopi Sunder gel well with the narrative but the theme music does not.
Captain, in short, is sure to make you a fan of Sathyan, if not football. Prajesh Sen can be proud – Sathyan is no more an unsung hero.