Azhar is a 2016 Indian Hindi biographical sports drama film directed by Tony D’Souza. The story and is inspired from the life of Indian cricketer and former national team captain Mohammad Azharuddin. The film is produced by Shobha Kapoor and Ekta Kapoor for Sony Pictures Networks and features Emraan Hashmi in the titular role. The film was released worldwide on 13 May 2016. The film was a moderate success at the box office as it collected only 56.8 crores gross against the budget of 35 crores. The film also drew criticism for its fictionalised interpretation of events.
The film begins with Indian cricketer Azhar (Emraan Hashmi) scoring a century in his 99th test match, but he soon faces allegations of match-fixing as his name has been linked with a London based bookie M.K. Sharma aka Shaun (Rajesh Sharma). The Indian cricket board slaps a life-ban on him. Azhar decides to challenge the ban in court with the help of his lawyer friend Reddy (Kunaal Roy Kapoor).
The story shifts back to 1963, when Azhar was born to a comfortable middle-class family in Hyderabad. His grandfather (Kulbhushan Kharbanda) dreamt of Azhar playing 100 tests for Team India and motivates a soft-spoken young Azhar to answer his rivals with his batting skills. Young Azhar goes for an Indian team selection match to Mumbai, where on the match day he receives the bad news of his grandfather’s death. Nonetheless, he participates in the match, in accordance with his grandfather’s last wish.
Azhar impresses the selectors, sealing his place in Team India and he soon becomes a national hero by scoring 3 consecutive centuries in his first 3 Test innings. Azhar soon marries Naureen (Prachi Desai) and they both begin a happy married life. After a loss against Pakistan in 1991, the President of Cricket Board calls Azhar for a one-to-one meeting. Azhar initially fears getting dropped from the team, but is surprised when he is offered the position of team Captain. Some senior players like Manoj, Ravi and Navjot, resent Azhar’s appointment as Captain, not wishing to take orders from a younger and less experienced player. But Kapil (Varun Badola) supports and encourages him to focus on his duty.
While playing in an India–Pakistan match, Javed taunts Azhar, telling Azhar his Muslim heritage would be a better fit for the Pakistan team. Azhar leads his team to victory and soon becomes a successful Captain. At the peak of his career, Azhar’s personal life takes a twist when he meets a former Miss India and famous Bollywood actress Sangeeta (Nargis Fakhri) during an advertising film shoot and instantaneously falls in love with her. Sangeeta likes him too but, aware that he is already married, she warns him to stay away from her. Nevertheless, Azhar is infatuated by her beauty and does not listen to her advice. They begin dating but keep their relationship hidden, until it is suddenly exposed by a gossip magazine.
Azhar has no alternative but to publicly announce his affair with Sangeeta. Heartbroken, Naureen asks him for a divorce and soon Azhar leaves her to marry Sangeeta. During a cricket match against the West Indies, Azhar gets in a spat with team-mate Manoj for a slow run rate in order to complete his century, letting the team lose. Manoj is dropped from the next match and Azhar leads the team to victory. Manoj is humiliated and vows to take revenge. In later years of his career, Azhar, famous for his expensive lifestyle, comes into the eyes of match-fixers. He is soon approached by a London-based bookie M.K Sharma, disguised as a diamond merchant, who later offers him 1 crore rupees to under play in a match against Sri Lanka, which Azhar hesitantly accepts.
In a parallel story, after the match-fixing scandal, Azhar is now facing nationwide criticism and a prosecutor, Meera (Lara Dutta), is building up a strong case against him on the basis of sting operations done by Manoj on Ravi, Navjot and several other cricketers. She also uses the report of the inquiry commission set up by the Cricket Board and secretly meets the bookie M. K. Sharma to gather more evidence. Meera also approaches Naureen, asking her to serve as a witness, but she refuses. Meanwhile, Azhar and his lawyer Reddy are struggling to find any proof of innocence as none of his fellow cricketers are ready to help him out.
Azhar attends a gym-opening ceremony to gain back his old fame in public, but is left insulted by the owner himself. After a long, eight-year legal fight, Reddy finally makes a breakthrough by proving in court that the inquiry commission report is biased, as they were paid by Cricket Board itself. Reddy even challenges the authenticity of sting operation tapes as none of the witness was under oath and hence can not be treated as truth. Later, Azhar also reveals that he took 1 crore rupees from the bookie to keep him away from other team members but later scored a match winning innings and returned all the money to the bookie.
On the final day of judgement, both Naureen and Sangeeta attend the court hearing, showing their support for Azhar. Kapil also states in a television interview that he believes Azhar is innocent. In its final verdict, the court lifts the India cricket board ban imposed on Azhar.
The movie is based on the real life of Mohammad Azharuddin.
Emraan Hashmi as Azhar Mohammad (Based on Mohammad Azharuddin)
Lara Dutta as Meera Verma, a lawyer
Nargis Fakhri as Sangeeta, the second wife of Azharuddin (Based on Sangeeta Bijlani)
Prachi Desai as Naureen, the first wife of Azharuddin
Kunaal Roy Kapur as Advocate Ramakanth Reddy
Gautam Gulati as Ravi Goyal (Based on Ravi Shastri)
Manjot Singh as Navjot Singh Bachar (Based on Navjot Singh Siddhu)
Karanvir Sharma as Manoj Shinde (Based on Manoj Prabhakar)
Rajesh Sharma as M. K. Sharma aka Shaun (Based on M. K. Gupta)
Varun Badola as Kapil Jain (Based on Kapil Dev)
Kulbhushan Kharbanda as Wajihuddin, Azhar’s Grandfather
Hemant Choudhary as Samar (Ad Film Director)
Veerendra Saxena as Mohammad Azizuddin
Jameel Khan as Jay Patil (Based on Ajay Sharma)
Ashok Mandanna as Judge
Shernaz Patel as Yousuf Sultana
Ashish Pathode as Ajay Kapur (Based on Ajay Jadeja)
Shweta Kawatra as Film Magazine journalist (Cameo)
Rajit Kapur as Raj Singh Puri (Cameo)
Navdeep as Meera’s boyfriend