The dream that united India. This is the story that Gold promises to deliver and it does so in a spirited fashion. Filled with unabashed patriotism, pride, and joy, Reema Kagti’s recent directorial venture, Gold, is a fictional account about the true story of the Indian National Hockey team’s first win as an independent nation over Great Britain in the 1948 Olympics.

Kagti doesn’t present us with a typical sports film, where a band of misfits are brought together and become a functioning team. Instead through three key characters she presents us with an account of almost a decade of India’s tough and embattled struggle of independence through the lens of a hockey team. Being her third film as director it is clear that Kagti knows how to bring out tremendous performances from her actors. Akshay Kumar once again brings his usual charm to play Tapan Das, the manipulative and often drunk junior manager of the team. An interesting choice of protagonists for a sports film as he is not the most likable character in the film, but his unfiltered patriotism and gung-ho stubbornness begins to outweigh his vices. It was refreshing to see a character that is not wholly pure as a leader and driving force of a story as it made him more relatable and made his choices more digestible.

Amit Sadh also gives a stellar performance as Raghubir Pratap Singh, a rich entitled royal prince who is a star player. Sadh, who became known after Kai Po Che, has shown us his ability to make the character his own, right down to his body language. Always stiff, rigid, standing with his chest held high, Raghubir declares his superiority over the others without even saying a word.

Though the person who truly deserves Gold here is Sunny Kaushal, who many people are probably seeing for the first time. Though only his second feature, and first mainstream film, Kaushal takes command of the screen like no other actor I have seen. His domineering portrayal of Himmat Singh is a treat in itself. Endearing us with his down-to-earth upbringings, but filled with glorious vigor and talent, Kaushal’s Himmat is the contrast to Raghubir that balances the film. If for no other reason, one should watch Gold to enjoy Kaushal’s breathtaking performance.

The supporting cast does its job well, including the debutant Mouni Roy, playing Tapan’s endearing but firebrand of a wife. Being a staple on television, Roy’s first Bollywood adventure does not feel amateurish. Vineet Kumar Singh, Nikita Dutta, Atul Kale, and the whole slew of newcomers all do a great job to raise the bar of the film. The one character that felt underutilized was Kunal Kapoor’s Samrat. Presented as a main character in the first moments of the film, he becomes a secondary character as the film progresses and that is unfortunate. Kapoor is a phenomenal actor who plays his role well but feels almost like an afterthought by the makers.

Unfortunately, with Gold, Kagti falls into some traps with this production that give it a slight stench of commercialization. Most likely due to Akshay Kumar joining the project. For instance, the film could have done without the multiple songs and dance numbers, but like any other commercial film, there is a dance number with Monobina and romantic ballad with Naino Ne Baandhi. Both are great songs but feel out of sync with the tone of the film.

As for the rest of the music, other than the tracks mentioned above, the other songs composed by Sachin-Jigar are one-time listens. Ghar Layenge Gold feels like a rehashing of the composer duo’s own song Thaare Vaste from Parmanu. The only original songs are from the guest composers Arko, and Tanishk Bagchi. Furthermore, lets us not forget Chad Gayi Hai, a fun song about getting drunk, which serves as an important plot point in the film, but is a let-down because in typical commercial fashion it has a Punjabi flair to it. This wouldn’t be an issue if it weren’t for the fact that the character singing is of Bengali origin! I can only imagine how much better the song might have been if a little bit of originality was added.

In the realms of story, the film does a great job of showing us the trials and tribulations of a nation through the microcosm of the national hockey team. Where across the nation there was a split during Partition, it was also true within the team, where some of its best players left because they felt they didn’t belong. Where across the nation there was infighting between classes, such was also true within the team, where the upper-class players felt superior to the lower-class players. Kagti does a tremendous job in using the team to reflect our country’s faults during those early days. This makes the golden victory at the end much more impactful as it proclaims that even with our differences we can come together for a larger much deeper call, for a strong united nation.

In conclusion, Gold was a worthwhile treat for moviegoers to celebrate Independence Day. Go watch Gold to experience a blockbuster level quality production that takes you on an emotional journey of struggle, pain, heartbreak, loss, but eventual triumph.