(Since the film is so readily available for most of the readership of this blog, this review will contain spoilers.)
I don't have a lot of thoughts on Striker and whatever I have is pretty disjointed and weird. I feel the need to mention the great revolution behind the YouTube release and how I hope smaller Indian films will continue to do this for the benefit of us foreign watchers. I'm not sure how much money the Indian film related blogosphere generates in terms of buzz that makes people go see films, but I'm sure it increases awareness of the film in general (possibly for the festival circuit?) and hey, at least us bloggers get to watch it around the same time and therefore chat about it without the usual DVD release delay.
I also wouldn't object to companies putting past hits on YouTube, like Rajshri have done, for example. The way I see, it'll probably decrease piracy. I mean, if your choices are buying HAHK, downloading it or watching the film on YouTube, surely the last one is the best option, as it's free, legal and not any hassle? If you really like it, you can and probably will buy the DVD.
So yes, it's a good way to catch new fans who otherwise wouldn't have run into your movie, and I'm hoping Rajshri's and Studio18's testing of this method has proven beneficial. I guess only time will in the case of Striker.
But onto discussing the film as a film; it's adequate. What a dreadful word to use about such an enormous effort, but there you have it. It's technically a well-made movie. The cinematography, the music, the lightning, the art design ... everything seems considered and skillfully done. The acting is solid all around. Late 80's and early 90's Mumbai/Bombay looks and feels just that.
The plot doesn't really drag, or anything, it's nicely engaging, though not necessarily on an emotional level. It's not too complex, but there are moments where it rushes ahead and I'm sitting there going, "Wait, what?". The way the carrom game ties into the plot is somewhat peculiar. The thing is, Striker's never a sports movie, or even a gambling movie, as much as it's a story of a kid dealing with underground hasslings (and the game is a part of that) and getting severely burnt by it. I understand it's based on a true story, but as a whole it seems to lack a clear narrative.
What makes the slight wobbliness of the story as a whole really come through is the last 15 minutes or so, which shows us Siddharth's character Surya suffer a couple of utter breakdowns, one of them which results in his raping who is to become his wife five minutes later, and later a breakdown results in him violently murdering the villain, which seems like an extreme and slightly out of character thing to do. Minai's review talked about the rape scene, and there's plenty of chatter about it elsewhere. Suffice to say I agree with a lot of others; it's a terrible scene that ruins a character, and it's pretty unnecessary considering the whole of the plot, too.
I guess the worst thing about Striker is that I'm really sort neither here nor there about it. I don't feel very angry or incredibly disappointed; neither am I full of love and anticipating a rewatch of it. As a Siddharth fan I am glad he did something different for once, and broke the daisy-chain of romantic hero characters he's been doing for a small eternity. I just hope his next serious role pick is a little better.
(Unrelated, realized I can't use 00s tag for new movies anymore. So break out the weird-looking "10s" tag!)