S.S.B. Films' CHAMPION, directed by Padam Kumar, is a tale about a man who has a quest, a dream to be the best. The film centres around four main characters, namely Rajveer Singh (Sunny Deol), a simpleton from a village in Punjab, whose sole dream in life is to become a super-cop and wipe off all crime.
After training, he gets his first posting at Mumbai for a special assignment. Bubbling with enthusiasm, on arrival, he is shocked to find that his job is to protect a nine-year-old boy, Abbas (Abhishek Sharma). A bodyguard, after all the rigorous training to eliminate hardcore criminals!
Abbas is the sole heir to millions of riches left to him by his parents (Deepak Parashar-Padmini Kapila), who have expired in a plane crash. The only threat to Abbas's life is Nazir (Rahul Dev), who has a personal vendetta because of which he venomously stalks the innocent child.
Abbas's only guardian is Sapna (Manisha Koirala), a vivacious lady and a successful model who is close to Abbas and his family. Rajveer and Abbas hate each other from the word go. Rajveer dislikes this naughty spoilt rich brat for being the cause of his shattered dream of becoming a super-cop, whereas Abbas hates Rajveer for curtailing his freedom to do things as he pleases.
From here starts a very interesting love-hate relationship filled with fun and laughter, only to culminate into Rajveer and Sapna falling in love and Abbas and Rajveer developing a relationship of understanding by the end of the day where Rajveer is ready to risk everything to protect Abbas from Nazir, the only danger in Abbas's life.
By this time Nazir has made several chilling attempts to assassinate Abbas. The only way to get Abbas out of danger is by eliminating Nazir.
CHAMPION is, to an extent, inspired by the Kevin Costner starrer THE BODYGUARD. The only difference being, the English film revolved around a bodyguard and a singer, while CHAMPION tells the story of a cop out to protect a kid from a stalker.
The initial reels of CHAMPION are devoted to establishing the key characters in the film. The focus is on light moments and songs and the outcome is mediocre. But it is the second half that catches the viewer unaware.
The stalker's evil designs of assassinating the kid are very well executed and it is these chilling moments that are the mainstay of this enterprise. Director Padam Kumar has treated these sequences with utmost care and the result is an edge-of-the-seat thriller which keeps you hooked to the goings-on till the last frame.
There are several sequences which remain etched in your memory even after the show has ended, notable among them being:
* Sunny confronting Rahul Dev in the mental asylum and the fight that follows,
* Rahul Dev entering the kid's home in the middle of the night and wrecking havoc and
* The climax of the film, the fight to finish.
However, CHAMPION has its share of weaknesses too:
* One, the characterisation of Rahul Dev seems half-baked. His leading a dual life in a mental asylum seems far-fetched.
* Two, the film tends to drag slightly towards the middle of the second half [portions in the hospital]. Trimming them is essential.
* Three, the film lacks a hit musical score to compliment the tense moments. Barring two songs that have been promoted well ? 'Ek Ladki Jiski Aankhen Ye Kehti Hai' and 'Hai Aisa Champion Kahan' ? the remaining songs, though lavish in picturisation, do not arouse curiosity.
Director Padam Kumar surprises you with his command over the script and techinique. Despite being his first film, Padam has handled the complex of scenes with sensitivity. As a writer, he has not given too many lines to Rahul Dev, but worked hard on his look and expressions.
The film scores in the technical department. Cinematography (S. Thiru) is brilliant. The lighting in the night scenes, mainly those involving Rahul Dev, deserves special mention. The background score (Adesh Shrivastav) is outstanding. In fact, the score plays a major role in elevating every sequence of the film. Action (Tinu Verma) is first-rate. Dialogues (Sanjay Masoom) are well worded.
Sunny breathes fire in a role that fits him like a glove. He looks dashing and performs his scenes with maturity. He has been cast in a role that the masses love to see him in.
Rahul Dev's performance can be best described in one word ? excellent. This newcomer has screen presence, delivers the right expressions and has a flawless dialogue delivery.
Master Abhishek Sharma manages to hold on despite two powerful performers. Manisha Koirala looks very glamorous and acts ably.
On the whole, CHAMPION is a well-made action flick that has all it takes to be appreciated by those starved for good entertainment. However, a film of this stature deserved to be publicised better to reap a rich harvest at the box-office window.