Selection Day (2019-)
Release Date: 28 December 2018
Number of Seasons: 1
Number of Episodes: 12
Ratna Pathak Shah
Written By: Marston Bloom
Genre: Sports Fiction
About the Series
Selection Day is an Indian Netflix Original Sports web television series, based on Aravind Adiga’s 2016 novel of the same name. Produced by Anil Kapoor and Anand Tucker, it stars Mohammad Samad, Yash Dholye, Karanvir Malhotra, Rajesh Tailang, Mahesh Manjrekar, Ratna Pathak Shah, Shiv Pandit, Parul Gulati and Akshay Oberoi. The series follows the life of two brothers Radha and Manju who are raised by their cricket-obsessed father and meet their rival Javed. The first six episodes of Selection Day premiered on 28 December 2018. Part 2, consisting of another set of six episodes, premiered on 19 April 2019.
Radha and Manju are two brothers who train under their father to become the next great pair of cricket batsmen. After toying with the bowling attacks of their local village teams, their father decides it is time for them to move to Mumbai. They hope to be selected to play in domestic leagues in the upcoming selection season.
What Doesn’t Work
Selection Day appears to be about cricket on its surface. But it is about so much more. Selection Day talks about child-parent relation, parental pressure, personal freedom, societal divides and lot more. It explores various subplots. And it is this complexity that attracts the viewer. The cricket craze relates to the viewer first-hand and this adds to its advantages.
Radha excels in cricket because he likes it. Manju, on the other hand, excels at it because he has been forced into it by his father. He likes science more. His arc features him discovering more about himself as he prepares for the selection day for the under-19 cricket team. His arc also sees him exploring his feelings towards his number one competitor, Javed.
Selection Day talks about multiple divides ─rich-poor, urban-rural, English-Hindi, personal freedom-paternal oppression. Radha and Manju’s struggle to break free from the suffocating paternal control gathers pace as the two young lives begin to move in divergent directions. Manju’s love-hate relationship with Javed not only drives a wedge between him and Radha but also aggravates his father’s aggression towards his sons.
Their struggle to fit in the city’s big school and their rivalry with Javed sets the tone for Part 1. The first half a dozen episodes examined how the brothers negotiated the immense pressure that they faced from their father and a baffling school environment. We saw the inseparable twosome being constantly pushed to the tipping point. It is precisely one such meltdown that saw Radha’s rivalry with an affluent student and school team captain, Javed Ansari, taking an ugly turn and leaving the elder Kumar boy with severe bruises and a fracture.
The actors carry the show with their brilliant acting. They all seem genuine, and the characters feel relatable. The characters are written amazingly, as none of them feels flat. They all have their motivations, ambitions, and they are grey.
Rajesh Tailang does a phenomenal job portraying a bully father who is also an entrepreneur. He starts a Health drink business with a local juice seller. He underplays the unseemly aspects of the character. In doing so, he allows room for ambiguity. That he is prone to bouts of violence is evident, but he never lets his body language suggest that he is anything but a man who has the best interests of his two sons at heart.
Mohammad Samad as Manju brings out the complexities and range of his varied emotional encounters with commendable ease. Ratna Pathak Shah perfectly embodies the role of the nerdy headmistress of an average school.
Selection Day is a gritty dark drama. The story is bleak and the narrative is pessimistic. The viewer isn’t left with much hope at the end of both parts. It would have worked if the pace wasn’t this quick. It feels rushed and fails to invoke audience investment. Had the story-tellers taken more time to build it up, we would have been more hooked in the fate of its characters.
The good acting fails to shine through due to the poor narrative.
The various subplots and arcs detract from the main storyline. There’s just too much happening, there’s a school to be saved, expensive cancer treatment to be arranged, and lost honour to be restored. The plot feels all over the place. Characters are introduced and then vanish out of nowhere. It is filled with loopholes and the audience is left wondering what they just saw.
Selection Day is available for streaming on Netflix.