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Aanaparambile World Cup review: Antony Varghese’s film is an earnest and heartfelt tribute to Kerala’s love for football

With his directorial debut, Nikhil Premraj pens a heartfelt love letter to Malayalees’ love for the game, through the story of a group of ragtag young boys who live and breathe the game.

3/5rating
Aanaparambile World Cup review: Antony Varghese’s film is an earnest and heartfelt  tribute to Kerala’s love for football

  • Shilpa S

Last Updated: 09.58 AM, Nov 25, 2022

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Story:

Football is a sport most Malayalees hold very close to their heart, and a ragtag group of children in Aanaparamb are no different. Living and breathing football, the youngsters’ dream of having their own team and a ground to call their own. When Nisham, a local footballer with aspirations of going pro, comes into their lives, the young boys’ dreams slowly start to become a reality.

Review:

Football season is something Malayalees do not take lightly, and they make sure to announce their love for the sport for everyone to see. Streets adored with the colours of fan favourite international teams, Argentina, Brazil and Portugal among the favourites, and crowds gathering to witness games are common sights in Kerala to announce the start of football season. Aanaparambile World Cup comes to the silver screen at the perfect time, when football fans across the world are revelling in the glory of this year’s Fifa World Cup tournament. With his directorial debut, Nikhil Premraj pens a heartfelt love letter to Malayalees’ love for the game, through the story of a group of ragtag young boys who live and breathe the game.

The film follows the story of a group of boys, who call themselves seven stars, who are on a quest to find themselves a proper ground where they can polish their football skills. Met with ridicule and reproach from everyone they ask, their quest for a ground of their own leads them to cross paths with local footballer Nisham, who found himself in hot water when he was caught breaking into an aristocrat's mansion on the day of the latter's engagement. Nisham and the boys’ common love for the game lead them to develop a deep bond with each other. When the boys get a chance to play for a chance to be a part of the Kerala Blasters Football Academy, they realise that heart is not enough to win the tournament, and what they really need is a good coach.

Despite coming off as a bit cliched and slow paced at times, Nikhil’s directorial is nothing but heart. The film starts off slow enough and with some charming moments which seem to only serve the purpose of trying to make the young stars as likeable as possible. Although the same is definitely achieved, there are a few moments where it does seem a bit dragged out.

The young protagonists do a great job at making the audience fall in love with their well written characters, who exude charm and charisma. The self assuredness of the Seven Stars, coupled with their witticisms and childish antics leave room for not even a single dull moment featuring the group. From a nine-year-old’s intense love for Messi that leaves him shattered after Argentina’s World Cup loss, to the way the boys win the heart of none other than I M Vijayan, the film is riddled with heartwarming moments that you cannot help but smile at.

Although Antony Varghese is the protagonist, the actor takes a step back and lets the young stars have their moment, which certainly made all the difference. Rather than a sports story with a saviour complex, Aanaparambile World Cup is thus turned into a sincere story about football and the children who live and breathe the game. Although Antony does get his due, the route his story takes is largely forgettable when it does not include his dynamic with the children.

The film is a wonderful tribute to the game, featuring some well made and executed sequences where the game is played with panache. The film offers several small surprises for Kerala Blasters fans as well.

Verdict:

Aanaparambile World Cup is an endearing celebration of Kerala’s love for football, told through a story of young hopefuls who have an undying love for the game. The heartfelt storytelling, impeccable performances and characters make the film a treat for football fans and non football fans alike.

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