Selection Day Review 2018 TV-Show Series Cast Crew Online
Stars: Yash Dholye, Subrat Dutta, Mahesh Manjrekar
Review: After its last offering Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle that had a big budget and an illustrious cast, Netflix’s latest Indian original Selection Day feels like a Christmas party. Only there is no Santa or a Christmas tree.
Based on Aravind Adiga’s eponymous novel, it is the story of two teen brothers—Radha and Manju—trapped in the mad obsession of their compulsive father, who treats them as his ticket out of poverty and dreams of making them the world’s best batsmen.
In tracing Radha and Manju’s journey from their village in Madhya Pradesh to becoming star cricketers of a Mumbai school, the first season of Selection Day touches upon several pressing issues—parental pressure, domestic violence, India’s cricket craze, the urban-rural divide, unashamed commercialisation of education, teen angst and homosexuality. But in trying to show it all, it spreads itself too thin, thus failing to create any real impact.
Right from the first scene, it is established that Radha—the elder brother played by debutant Yash Dholye—is to be the best batsman in the world. The younger Manju is always referred to as Batsman No 2 by their father. Not that he minds, he is not interested in the sport anyway. He is a science guy. But the little detail adeptly shows how deep our parents’ biases can get rooted in our psyche and how we internalise them without knowing it, believing them to be true.
Mohammad Samad is in terrific form as Manju, the conflicted, sensitive younger brother who pines for his mother and wants to study but is forced to play cricket. After starring in Tumbbad and Haraamkhor, Selection Day solidifies Samad’s presence as a young actor of tremendous potential.
And it’s not just him, one of the best things about the show is its casting. There is Ratna Pathak Shah as Mrs. Weinberg, a feisty principal fighting a lost battle to save her school—the last living memory of her dead husband—from corporatisation. There is also Mahesh Manjrekar, who plays Tommy Sir, a closeted cricket coach with a murky past and an unrealised dream to train a legend. And finally, there is Rajesh Tailang as the boys’ eccentric father who will stop at nothing to make them what he wants them to be.
Udayan Prasad, director of Netflix’s latest Indian original series, Selection Day, made a statement recently that, in hindsight, explains everything that is wrong about the show. Prasad is an Indian born British filmmaker, who recounted a story about returning to India – specifically New Delhi – after several years being away, and expressed surprise at how the language had changed. This wasn’t the India he’d left behind, but it was certainly the India he wanted to understand, though this show.
He was taking a walk around the Lodhi Gardens – sprawling centuries-old lawns housed in what is perhaps the most expensive 5 square kilometres of real estate in the capital – and was shocked to learn that most people around him were speaking English. “I thought there was something seriously wrong here,” he said. “What the hell is going on? Why is everyone talking in English?The moment you leave the big cities and go into the villages, everything’s different.”
The small gathering of Indian journalists – including myself – to whom he was telling this story immediately grew concerned. Our English might not be as good as Stephen Fry’s, but we certainly speak it – as we have all our lives. But that is the trouble with Selection Day. It appears to have been made by a bunch of people who aren’t necessarily as familiar with modern India as they should be, and therefore unprepared to tell a story so rooted in its milieu.
An outsider’s perspective can be valuable on certain occasions – I particularly enjoyed Lion, directed by the Australian Garth Jennings – but in the case of Selection Day, a story that positively demands a Mumbai native’s voice, several key themes are lost in translation.
“The Slumdog (Millionaire) version is presented all the time outside,” said the man sitting beside Prasad at that press interaction. This was the show’s writer, Marston Bloom, who admitted that Danny Boyle’s Oscar-winning film contributed to the West’s understanding of the country – ‘that Indians are victims and terribly poor’
“Modern India has a lot more to say,” Bloom continued. “Maybe this (Selection Day) was a way of capturing it for me.”
Alas, the story he has written is one filled with many contrivances and coincidences. Were it not for the Hand of God – which is made manifest in the show quite literally – several of the storylines would come to a grinding halt. There are three plots in Selection Day, running in parallel. The first, and ostensibly the most important, is that of a couple of brothers – named Manju and Radha; it is unclear if this is meant to be a joke – who have been conditioned from birth by their father to become ‘the number one and number two batsmen in the world’. This training comes at the expense of a regular childhood, which means Manju and Radha are ‘home schooled’ and friendless.
Check More Stuff – Sex Education Review 2019 TV-Show Series Cast Crew Online