India worships cricket and everyone that is associated with it with great fervor; except movies. For some strange reason films on cricket have come and gone and not a single sound was made. Other sports, however, like hockey and athletics have recently done well for themselves in Bollywood.

As Bhaag Milkha Bhaag rocked the theaters successfully despite its prolonged running time, a particular thought kept hovering in my mind. I found it absolutely strange that a nation that swears by cricket, which goes to the extent of considering it as religion and a certain Mr. Tendulkar as God, has actually given a no-go to almost all movies based on it.  Fortunately, the beneficiaries have been cricket’s poorer siblings.

Stars have helped a great deal to shift focus from the game that India eats, sleeps and drinks. Years after playing the cricket coach in Chamatkar,  Shah Rukh Khan (portraying coach Mir Ranjan Negi) walked in with a hockey stick on-screen giving his team the very famous and inspiring speech about having ‘70 minutes’ to change their lives. Hockey, the national game of the country, enjoyed for a few fleeting moments the 150-odd minutes of rare fame. But, soon after  came the Indian Premier League once again that took our craziness for cricket several notches higher. While one notices that once in a while a film like Chak De India comes and shifts the focus from the gentleman’s game to other sports, once in a while also comes a cricket-themed movie that sinks without a trace.

Flop movies are the reason movies about cricket flop

In Awwal Number (1990), Aamir Khan played the part of a cricket prodigy who takes almost a decade to find his real touch. He defeats the Aussies in their own game on his home turf. He finishes it in more of a present day Dhoni style:  getting the ball out of the park. It is probably the only film that pays a befitting tribute to the game and not an individual. It fictionalizes the genesis of the game in our country and has the audacity to compare it with ‘gilli danda’. Iqbal too caught the imagination of the nation. It told us that a mute and deaf person can let his deliveries do all the talking.

But the picture is not always so rosy. Maybe, we follow cricket so aggressively that even a match between Zimbabwe and Bangladesh holds importance. We actually are repelled by the thought of watching it on-screen when we can watch real cliffhangers. Also, the filmmakers more often have failed to tap the emotions of a cricket fan and above that have failed to create stories that are more enticing than cricket itself. The fault lies with films like Chain Khuli Ki Main Khuli and Patiala House that fail to create a Lagaan-esque underdog story. Then there were films like Dil Bole Haddippa, Hattrick, Stumped and Mirabai Not Out that were sent back to the pavilion, the moment they took guard on Friday morning.

Untitled Black Friday Cricket

In Lagaan and Awwal Number, Aamir Khan ends the match by a winning six; a classic Dhoni move like in this picture: CSK captain MS Dhoni plays a shot against Hyderabad Sunrisers at Champions League Twenty-20 match at Jharkhand State Cricket Association (JSCA) International Cricket Stadium in Ranchi on Sept. 26, 2013

Ray of Hope

Now, we should not make our complaining generic, as complaining tends to get. Cycling looked like a dream sport in Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar. Paan Singh Tomar and Milkha Singh kept running on tracks as we watched with awe. Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal failed to ‘Bend it like Bechkam’ but was perhaps the most honest attempt of Bollywood to make a movie on football. The same fate was of Tara Rum Pum. Now, the biopic on Mary Kom might be India’s Million Dollar Baby. Then there is Badminton, Tennis, Swimming, Golf, Kabaddi et al. We have a long way to go before India makes it’s mark in sports; cinematically or in reality.

By Niharika

Also See:
Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’s Hidden Agenda
Dhoom 3 Sneak Peek – Preview & Teaser Trailer

Image Source: IANS Photo

Video Source: Sattar Minute – Shahrukh Khan – Chak De India- YRF

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