Set to release on January 29th, the Rajukumar Hirani produced Saala Khadoos (Irudhi Suttru in Tamil) stars R. Madhavan.
Saala Khadoos tells the tale of Adi Tomar who had a dream to win the boxing gold for India. Instead he languished in a nightmare for a decade as his gloves were spiked during an all-important match, blinding him in the arena and handing the match to his undeserving opponent—a mediocre boxer but a political powerhouse. The culprit was his own coach, Dev Khatri. Shattered by his loss, and disillusioned by the state of Indian boxing, Adi turned to a life of cynical self-destruction of booze, brothels and bar-fights. Loyal friends somehow bring him back to boxing as the coach of the lowly rated Indian women’s boxing team. His outspoken honesty sends jitters through his old adversaries, and he is soon transferred to Chennai—the Siberia of Indian boxing. But Adi continues to dream but this time for a free-spirited, fiery young woman from the fishing community, Madhi. Adi spots in her a champion that could bring India the gold that he was robbed off. But first Adi must earn her trust, then tame her impetuosity and finally make her dream… all this in just nine months before the world championship. And so begins an uneasy partnership between a man who loves his sport and a girl who loves her freedom. Rigor and rebellion, structure and free spirit collide. It is the beginning of a beautiful friendship and a journey towards an impossible dream.
Talking about the film, Madhavan said at a recent event, “I wanted to play someone who will leave viewers in awe. This coach, though retired from fighting, has warrior looks. So I had to beef up my muscles. At a point my biceps were so big that I was finding it difficult to brush my teeth. I went to the US to train in boxing. My character has a lisp in his talk and to do that I have been wearing braces for the past two years to get that lisp. Sudha’s [Kongara] research on this story is comprehensive and impressive. We have shot the film realistically. In the climax scene, the audience will not be able to sit still but will unconsciously get into back seat boxing.”
It is the debut film for mixed martial artist and female boxing champion Ritika Singh. A spokesperson for the film told us, “Hirani chose a national level boxer over an actress to play the lead role. He felt the fights required stamina and intensity, and only a real boxer could make them look real. So, the entire team set out on a hunt for one. They auditioned over 100 boxers and attended over 700 boxing matches all over the country, before they finalised the female lead.”
Though both Madhavan and Hirani say they took a chance to cast a boxer who could act they both are very happy with her performance. Hiring said, “She [Ritika] is very real. She is not trying to act there is a roughness in her voice and because being a sportsperson there is some amount of focus she has. So we took a chance.” Madhavan added, “It was easy because we didn’t have to tell anything to her regarding boxing. After every scene we used to say nice performance, nice expression but she was concerned if her punches were good.”