Pravin Tambe who? Pravin Tambe made his Ranji and IPL debut at the ripe old age of 41. He went on to become one of the highest wicket takers of the tournament. for the next four years. His journey is just as befuddling as it is inspiring, and Hotstar’s new film Kaun Pravin Tambe by director Jayprasad Desai does a fantastic job of capturing this triumphant tale of the human spirit on celluloid.

The film begins with Pravin at age 12 proclaiming that he will make his parent’s proud, and play Ranji for Mumbai. It ends at present day with Pravin working as part of Kolkata Knight Riders support staff, after regaling the tournament from 2014 to 2017.

On this journey we get to see authentic, and heartwarming glimpses of not only the cricketer but also the man, courtesy another career defining performance by the effervescent Shreyas Talpade. Talpade seems to have some Karmic connection with cricket. This film is his best work after the classic Nagesh Kukunoor film Iqbal. Talpade is the soul of the film and becomes Pravin Tambe with such ease that you feel the two must be relatives. I must admit that I have a soft spot for Talpade who I feel is one of the most underrated actors of our times. It warms my heart to once again see him in a role that does justice to his talent and capabilities. He showcases Tambe with affability and makes him so relatable for the every man that we feel like we all know a Pravin Tambe.

That is the film’s greatest strength. It does not resort to melodrama or seeking sympathy for this protagonist. It shows Tambe’s actually tumultuous journey with lightheartedness and positivity. It represents the actual Pravin Tambe perfectly. That is not an easy task for the story of a sportsman who had to face constant struggle and failure till the age of 40!

That’s half a decade beyond when careers of most sportsmen are over for good. Add to that the soul crushing reality of an accident which broke his foot and forced him to change his game and innovate in order to compete. You realize that not many have the mental strength which Pravin Tambe had so casually demonstrated throughout his life. Truly this was a story that the world needed to know. My only gripe is that I feel like there was more to the story which was kept out, probably for the sake of brevity.

Biopics are not easy to make. A life contains so many little things that impact the eventual outcome in a big way. Deciding what to keep and what to omit, out becomes a task for the story-teller. Pravin Tambe’s story is no different, so audiences, and cricket fans especially, might feel like important bits of the journey have been glossed over. For example, the climax of the film – which is Pravin’s induction into the IPL – is left unexplained.

We are left to believe one fine day the great Rahul Dravid video calls our main man, and offers him a spot in the Rajasthan Royals team. How this came to be, which could easily be the most interesting part of the journey of this man, is left untouched. One does wish the filmmakers had made smarter choices about which parts of Pravin’s story to focus on and which to omit.

Having said that, what we do have on screen is one of the most heart warming underdog stories that has ever come out of India. Kudos to the entire team, everything from the texture of the cinematography, to the pace is in synchrony with the emotions of the story that the director is trying to tell. A word here for Desai, one hopes that this wonder kid from the South continues to stay in the limelight and give us engaging tales of the struggles of the human spirit. The tone and tenor of this film, which make it one of the best biopics in recent years, must be credited to its maker.

Do not miss Kaun Pravin Tambe on Hotstar. Especially if you are a cricket fan, and a film buff. And especially if you believe that inspirational stories are important, because they give us the strength and belief to keep going.