Netflix Offers India’s Love of Cricket, Drama, and Young Queerness in “Selection Day”

selection day netflix review
Radha and Manju in ‘Selection Day’ (Image: Screengrab)

Based on the novel of the same name by Aravind Adiga, Selection Day offers a compelling story featuring two young brothers trying to make a life for themselves in the world of cricket while dealing with an overbearing father. Part 2 of the series just got released on Netflix and it took the story toward a darker path. I want more!

The novel by Adiga is about how numerous children, with a lot of potential, end up settling in a life of mediocrity as grownups because of what their parents forced upon them from a young age. Radha (Yash Dohlye) and Manju (Mohammad Samad) are brothers who have been trained by their father to become the next great pair of cricket batsmen. While Radha is passionate about cricket he isn’t as skilled as his younger brother Manju who is more interested in studying science.

The first six episodes, which premiered on December 28, 2018, introduced us to the cast and the premise. On April 19, Part 2, consisting of six episodes (around 25-minutes each), picked up the pace and presented a darker tone. Many storylines from Part 1 developed in a manner which makes me want to know more.

Manju and Radha are the leads. For those who might not know, both boys have feminine names. It is similar to a boy being named Ashley or Joan. I do think there is a reason both are named in such a manner. They always seem to be forced by Mohan (their father) to reach a certain level of what it means to be masculine and successful in the cricket world.

Part 2 allowed the brothers to grow and realize their toxic relationship with their father. Mohan cares about nothing else other than making sure his sons reach cricket stardom even if it means harming his sons in the process.

It was wonderful to see Mohan getting what he deserved. I hope the brothers find some sense of happiness when they figure out what Mohan did to their mother before they all left the village to come to Mumbai.

As for the queer representation, we have an ongoing story involving Manju and Javed Ansari. I can understand how Javed can come across as a cliche about a rich brat with a heart of gold who just wants someone to be with him. However, Karanvir Malhotra plays Javed in a likable manner.

Of course, Javed has serious psychological issues because of a traumatic experience in his family. He needs help – a lot of help. But the good thing is his queerness isn’t caused by the trauma in his life.

That is what I liked about Selection Day. It doesn’t follow the unfortunate storytelling path of how kids turn queer because of parental attachment issues or some other nonsense. Both Javed and Manju are queer, but their sexuality has nothing to do with what they have gone through in life.

People who know (or suspect) there might be something going on between the two don’t make fun of the young boys. Their sexuality is just another part of them, even though (due to being young) they are still trying to make sense of it all.

I have seen some viewers complain about how the show doesn’t go all in when it comes to Manju and Javed’s relationship. However, in my opinion, considering the overall environment of South Asia when it comes to the LGBTQ+ community and due to Manju and Javed being played by young actors, I can see why the writing team is taking it slow with them. I’m not even sure if they will end up together.

At least their queerness isn’t being denied. So, that’s a good thing. Not every Indian queer narrative can be adult-themed as in Made in Heaven when you have kids in the cast.

The darker tones in the story come from the abusive family Radha and Manju belong to due to how Mohan acts. There is also the Indian Mafia involved, which seems ready to make things worse for the brothers. I’m so excited to see what happens next!

I can’t conclude this article without shouting out actress Amruta Subhash, who has the power to steal every scene she is in as Meera.

I also hope to see more of Monica (Parul Gulati) and Nellie (Ratna Pathak Shah) together. Having them team up against the Mafia is going to be very interesting.

Even if you aren’t a fan of cricket, Selection Day will keep your attention by offering a fast-paced storyline and interesting characters.

Feel free to share your thoughts with us.

Author: Farid-ul-Haq

Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.

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