Captain review: Jayasurya steals the show in this befitting homage to a real-life hero

Jayasurya makes an unbelievable transformation into a stoic, calm and determined V P Sathyan, writes Deepa Antony.

Captain, the second biopic film release of the year, tells the story of V. P. Sathyan- the fallen “unsung hero” of Indian Football. This the story of a legend whose name was once synonymous to football and who lives on through those thousands of football fans for whom the sport is not just a game, but an emotion and a revolution.

Captain is in parts an explanation to the downfall of V. P Sathyan. However, it is also more of a celebration of his achievements that came too late. The film opens to the scene where V. P Sathyan (Jayasurya) fails to convert his penalty shot at the 1999 South Asian Federation Games in Kathmandu. From there we are shown a glimpse of him at the Pallavaram railways station leading to his final hours in a July morning of 2006. From there the film shifts tone into a celebration of football- from his humble beginnings in Kannur, to his rise to stardom as a key player who found his way into the state and national platforms. The story is about his struggle- over his leg injury, over subsequent depression and over a bureaucracy that failed him.

Jayasurya makes an unbelievable transformation into a stoic, calm and determined V P Sathyan. He gracefully dissolves his stardom blurring the line between the actor and the subject. When his face twitches in the agony of pain or when he swells his chest in pride in his game our heart goes out to the protagonist as one sees only V. P. Sathyan, and not Jayasurya, the actor. Anu Sithara who plays Sathyan’s better-half, Anitha Sathyan, deserves equal praise in getting under the skin of her character. Renji Panikker, Deepak Parambol, Lekshmi Sharma, Saiju Kurup, Thalaivasal Vijay and Janardhanan, each play crucial roles with little screen space each. Siddique also plays a crucial role in ‘Captain’. He embodies the many nameless football fans of Malabar for whom football holds more meaning than life itself. His character is a nameless tribute to all those fans whole frenzied fanfare has kept the football alive in Kerala.

With the story writer-director Prajesh Sen keeps theatrics at bay. In his directorial debut, he keeps the story firmly planted in realism. However, Prajesh does focus a little too much on V. P Sathyan’s downfall than he does on his achievements. And like wings to his dreams are Roby Varghese  Raj’s visuals. Between Roby’s visual taste that complements the story and Gopi Sundar’s musical splendor that enhances the narrative ‘Captain’ turns into a movie worth watching.

‘Captain’ is the story of football before it became fashionable-long before ISL and Kerala Blasters. It is the story of the real deal that was football in its glorious days when Kerala had a stronghold over the national team. This in itself makes the film worth a watch! However, ‘Captain’ is more than just that. It is also about a man who let his life slip for a sport he dearly loved. So, watch ‘Captain’ for the sport, the captain and also for Jayasurya, who puts his soul into the captain.

‘Captain’ raises an important question about the genre in my mind. Is a biopic expected to simply tell the audience the story of the protagonist or does it also have a greater responsibility of spreading out all the historic facts, unaltered and without fail, in a span of 150 minutes? If the accuracy of the narrative is emphasized, making it similar to a docu-fiction, will the film lose its soul? 

reviewed byDeepa Antony

17 Feb 2018 | 12:16 PM

  • directed by
  • Prajesh Sen
  • Starring
  • Anu Sithara
  • Siddique
  • Saiju Kurup
  • Renji Panicker
  • Jayasurya
  • Genres
  • Biographical