“Tennis Buddies”; Director: Suhail Tatari; Cast: Divya Dutta, Ranvir Shorey, Bikramjeet Kanwarpal, Darshan Gurjar, Bachan Pachehra, Arsh Gyani, Dakshita Patel; Rating: **
Director Suhail Tatari’s “Tennis Buddies” is the tale of Anushka Singh (Dakshita Patel), an aspiring tennis player who is encouraged to play tennis, propelled by her father’s life experiences.
Mr. Singh (Ranvir Shorey), Anushka’s father weaves his broken dreams with Anushka’s future. The result is a sweet and uneasy father-daughter relationship. The tension is evident in Anushka’s performance. How she breaks free and manipulates her own career path, forms the crux of the tale.
While the film is technically well-mounted, the writing designed for an amateur sports film is crafted in a very sloppy and perfunctory manner. The characters are stereotypical, the plot cliched and predictable. The dialogues are run-of-the-mill and at times appear forced especially the Haryanvi diction.
The film loses some of its impact with the question of what was the narrative intent before the director even started filming.
While the title suggests, it is the tale of “buddies”, the three writers and the director of the film, simply document Anushka’s struggle to establish herself as a tennis player, her uneasy relationship with her father over tennis, the team spirit over participating in Club Tennis, rivalry and internal politics of the game, an inter-family conflict; all these seem too broad, and the overall result is a bit formless.
While the various plot-lines are retreads of pretty much any film made in this vein, the actors bring some spontaneity and weirdness to their characters. Dakshita Patel as Anushka is natural and promising. Ranvir Shorey has a wild and cynical essence especially when he is suspicious about people as he tries to perceive their inner motives.
A special mention has to be made about Anuskha’s loving and protective mother played by Divya Dutta who in her own small way gives her emotional support. Divya nails the character to perfection with her subtle and toned down version yet being assertive, strong and loving when need be.
Bikramjeet Kanwarpal as the coach in the club and Ranvir’s rival, is stereotypical and laidback.
The tennis scenes are well choreographed and acted. They make sense visually and dramatically, and they evoke the sense of the game. But the level of tension does not break barriers.
Overall, “Tennis Buddies” is a mild-mannered film, strange considering the ferocious nature of tennis. This one slips into the amateur category.