“Hmm! Another underdog story” that’s what I thought when I got introduced to this movie. And that’s true. This movie did have the markings of an Indian Movie and made me recall “Chak De” and even “Sala Khadoos”. But what lies underneath is a looking glass through which we could peer into the daily lives of the Africans. And lies there is also the sense that all it takes to empathise with one’s joys and sorrows is not a feeling of ‘having been related to’ but just of ‘having one identified oneself with’. And and and… a movie need not have glossy graphics, sassy budgets, classy actors, raised expectations and huge fan following. It just have to make an appeal to your human side. And even when the movie fails to do so, all the list we have come across could not fill the abyss of the lack of the sentiment humain.
It’s the story of a girl -Phiona Mutesi- who was born in a slum -Katwe- in Uganda. She gets to know about Chess almost by the something that is akin to luck. She proves her a champion among the local group of street kids and then goes on to play the school tournament in the near by town to win. She takes her liking to chess only because of her teachers inspires to think about Chess like “it is about winning a fight with planning” and it is allowed to become a queen (like the queen-ing procedure in Chess), though one hails from the humble beginnings. While her mother is apprehensive about loosing a working hand, it’s the benevolent coach who promises her a life of education for her own daughters. So she goes to play in a Chess Olympiad in Sudan and wins the gold medal for Uganda.
She develops a complex case of superiority complex and quits the game after loosing in Russian Olympiad only to come back after a family incident. Then she goes on to win Rwabushenyi National Chess Championship. And then they happily live together ever.
The movie is lacking in the super-spicy and dramatic twists (like Dangal etc…) for good. End of the movie made me feel like the director did wanted to rush to the climax because maintaining the tempo and the tension was beyond her capacity (but then.. if she were to spice up the story, the movie would have looked like out-of-Bollywood). I applaud Mira Nair for not contaminating the humanness of the story.
A few dialogues I happened to like: Coach's wife to the coach: Why do you do this? Why do you apologize when you knew what you have don is right? The little who teaches the basics to Phiona : In Chess... the small one can become the the one. That is why I like it. Coach Katende : Fiona! Never tip your king so quick. The little girl : He took my Queen!!!!
And now… I am looking for the kindle version of the book in the hope that the book would give me more details : The Queen Katwe.