Readers Write In #465: In ‘Toolsidas Junior’ Other than Snooker, Motivational Lessons to Learn

Posted on June 1, 2022

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By Carlos Luis

‘Toolsidas Junior’ by Mridul Mahendra might not be as celebrated as other sports dramas in India, but it happens to give one of the first representations to a game of snooker as a sport in India. It is inspired by a true story of the life of Mridul Mahendra, the writer-director of the movie.

The film stars Sanjay Dutt as Mohammed Salaam an ex-national champion, Rajiv Kapoor as Toolsidas excellent snooker player of Calcutta, Dalip Tahil as Jimmy Tandon who smartly cheats Toolsidas by offering alcohol during a fifteen-minute break in the final match, Varun Buddhadev as Toolsidas Junior, and Chinmai Chandranshuh as Goti Toolsidas. 

Rajiv Kapoor is seen in his posthumous but fantastic performance. Rajiv as a brilliant snooker player stuns us with his confidence and the loving relationship he shares with his youngest son Toolsidas Junior aka Midi. Midi considers his father to be the best and therefore reveres him come what may. Midi offers to carry his drunk father from the club to his home avoiding the embarrassment that Goti vehemently testifies to facing. Midi’s heart is broken when his father loses the final match and fails to keep up the promise of getting home the trophy of the championship. Midi notices Jimmy Tandon’s trick of alluring his father to drinking alcohol and getting rid of him as a competition. And this has been happening several times now from 1989-1994. 

The plot revolves around gaining fame and honour that is being exploited by Jimmy Tandon. Dalip Tahil carries the character of Jimmy Tandon with great pride and aura, and doesn’t let anyone notice his tricks. He manages to pull off even the loss of the match towards the end of the movie with great maturity. Jimmy Tandon already lost a few years ago when he cheated on Toolsidas, and therefore, the recent loss means nothing to him. It was like he had grown immune to success as well as failure. 

Mohammed Salaam is the character that caught my attention. The equanimity with which Sanjay Dutt acts this character is splendid. You are left with nothing but to root for him. Every word he utters is important. Forget the words his actions are of paramount importance. Especially to making ‘Toolsidas Junior’ the champion that he becomes.

I found in Mohammed Salaam or Salaam Bhai as Midi calls him, peculiar characteristics of a coach. Someone who leads by action, someone with a keen eye for observation, and someone slow to jump the gun. These are traits that a sports person ought to possess. Salaam Bhai is definitely worthy of the salaam because his technique of guiding Midi to being a perfect snooker player is outstanding, although that is not artistically presented in the movie. But at each moment of guiding Midi for a striking shot, Salaam Bhai delivers remarkable associative dialogues reminding Midi as well as the viewer about the superfluous fights and stunts of legendary actors Rajinikanth, Mithun Chakraborty, and Amitabh Bachchan.

‘Toolsidas Junior’ although introduces ‘snooker’ to us fails to represent it in its true spirit. Somewhere the plot only reserves to making Midi the champion after his father who would get the trophy and the name and the fame for Toolsidas. Did we retreat backward when a son is trying to fulfill the dreams of his father? I say no because the son here is not forced but inspired by his father and his technical and fantabulous game. 

It is a story that narrates the corruption that goes at the backdrop of every sport, either manipulation of the players or the talent. What still continues to stay with me is the father-son relationship. For the last time, you get to see Rajiv Kapoor as a sensitive and loving father to Midi a sensitive and loving son. His relationship with his father perhaps makes him relate well with Salaam Bhai and learn from him immensely. 

An anonymous quote goes like this “because I have a brother, I will always have a friend.” And it is true in the case of this movie. Midi and Goti are real friends. Although Goti wants to make business heart of heart he loves his brother. Goti thrives on being the manager of Midi. It is fun to watch how they make fun of each other and how they manipulate each other’s lives. 

From the cast to the story to the lives that are made and destroyed due to jealousy and hatred. The movie is a package of motivation for anyone who watches it.