Captain (2018)

‘Captain’ (2018) is not worth your time



Jayasurya plays V.P. Sathyan, Captain of the Indian National Team in the 1980s, who committed suicide in 2006 at age 41. First-time Writer-Director Prajesh Sen tells the story of Sathyan’s career, which should have been more recognized and rewarded.

The burden of being a forgotten footballer with a lifelong leg injury leads the player to alcoholism, watching a lot of soccer on TV, and untreatable depression. In one scene at the peak of his career, Sathyan’s wife Anitha chides him that no one ever asks for his autograph, and then she fawns over one she receives from a famous cricket player in the airport lounge with them. Later in the film, instead of landing a prestigious government career with the Kerala Police, Sathyan ends up with a banking job in Chennai.

A depiction difficult to reconcile

The movie is rife with a hodgepodge of scenes that build a confusing image of a player and a story. Jayasurya’s performance doesn’t help, as he shows only one emotion throughout the film: brooding. And clearly, he is not able to kick a soccer ball, so I kept thinking, this is not a footballer.

In most of the film, Sathyan is portrayed as a strong captain who leads his teams to victory despite physical pain and belittling insults from his superiors. For example, one policer officer puts him on the station janitorial crew and makes him clean the toilets. Later in life, a team manager takes the captain’s armband from him and cuts him from the roster minutes before kickoff.

Sathyan in turn also has his own capacity to harm. On his wedding night, he tells his young wife that she is not his first love, and that he still loves another, which reduces Anitha to tears. He then solemnly explains his first love is soccer, and if she doesn’t accept that, he will divorce her. Then he bounces the ball off her head! Later in the film, he hits her for not waking him to watch the France vs Italy game, and then he destroys the TV. The next day he buys a new flat screen TV, even though Anitha says they have no money.

Another weird scene is when Sathyan tries to inflate a soccer ball for his daughter by blowing into it. Metaphorically, he is trying to leave his daughter a ball that contains his own breath. But it is like watching a man trying to give himself a hernia. And technically, there is no way you can do this anyway, because a needle is required to penetrate the ball’s gasket. So it made no sense.

In Conclusion

Captain may be a disservice to the memory of VP Sathyan, who loved the game and couldn’t find a life without it.

Also note that the film implies Sathyan may have thrown himself in front of a train rather than face amputation of his leg. I could find no documentation of such a theory.

Plainly speaking, this is a rather terrible soccer movie. I would have simply added Captain to my list of Amazon films not worth your time, but I spent too much time researching it and decided to give it a full review.

3 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 3


Update on Aug-6-2023

I hadn’t had any feedback from readers since before the pandemic. But recently, I received this nasty email from someone under I assume a pseudonym of an Indian singer, Kalyani Menon.

About your review on captain

Hello Ms Lee   ..

This is with regards to your review on this film.. just like how u felt the movie was a pack of sh*t .. your review is a big bull shot..  specifically  cause u know nothing about the protagonist .  U have no clue about our country our state and our emotions and what happened in the actual life of Mr.VP satyan.. so if you don’t like a movie that is a biopic I suggest u keep ur opinions to yourself  .. 

And if u really are such a fanatic.  Come to this country and talk to his wife and learn the Incidents urself…

With least regards to ur review..

Kalyani ..

Email from an angry reader

I had trouble understanding this criticism of my review, because the whole point of a biopic is to reveal the protagonist’s life story. If I don’t know what happened in the guy’s life, then certainly that is a failure of the film. Anyhow, I learned long ago that debating on the internet or in email is fruitless. I have been to India and hope to return someday. I do not, however, plan to watch this film again. 🙂