CLEAN BOWLED – The Untold Story of Sports and Cinema
Sports and cinema share an indefinable bond. No, I am not referring to cricketers hooking up with female actors! Well, jokes apart both these industries are crowd pullers in almost the same ratio. A number of movies have been made over the years; some fiction while some biographies of legendary sports personas.
It may have been a few days since the curtain fell for the ravishing quadrennial World Cup but our soul still hovers in Emirates Old Trafford. Cricket is not just a game it is an emotion to people of all age groups. The photos of an elderly woman cheering for the Indian team at Trafford had gone viral recently.
If asked who their favorite player is, more than half of the Indians will confidently say just one name-M S Dhoni. Dhoni, the fantastic captain who brought back home the world cup trophy in 2011, the most effective finisher and has more than 10,000 runs to his credit.
Nothing happened overnight. For a small-town boy cricket was too big a dream but for the talented player he was, not impossible though. The film MS Dhoni-An Untold Story (2016) starring Sushant Singh Rajput is truly an untold story of the finest captain Team India ever witnessed. (Though I did feel that a biopic at such an early stage was a bit unnecessary)
The childhood, the struggle, the love track, everything was new to us. The movie affirms the fact that your reality is not a barrier to your dream. If not so, then an ordinary Indian railway TT would have never seen the pitch.
Cricket is a sport that is tagged as India’s most favorite game. Amidst all the glamour that sport offers, we have forgotten to acknowledge other sports, primarily our national sport, hockey.
Chak De India (2007) is a movie that reminds us that hockey is still and will always be India’s national sport. Coach Kabir Khan (Shahrukh Khan) along with his 18 women players, who happen to be the country’s finest hockey players, set out to win the world cup. The story may be as simple as that to say but apart from fighting male dominance in sports, other ignored social prejudices that the movie focuses on is very interesting and creative.
India is a diverse nation, with different cultures, different languages. Lost in this diversity we often forget to prioritize our nation before prioritizing our state. You will understand this reference if you have seen the film.
We all know that Assam has been affected by floods and is under huge crisis. With little media attention, the state is finding it hard to cope with the losses.
Not just Assam, the entire northeast of India has always been alienated and neglected. It has become a common tendency to see Northeastern citizens as people from outside the country. This is also humorously portrayed in Chak De India when a northeastern player asks ” Who needs a welcome in their own country! ” Chak De India is a terrific movie that makes our hearts skip a beat as the film approaches the climax.
The Flying Sikh, Milkha Singh is a gem to our nation. We have celebrated his success but seldom did we know about his struggle until Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013), his biography (whose rights he sold to Rakesh Omprakash Mehra for one rupee) released.
Before earning the title of The Flying Sikh, Milkha Singh was a petty thief who had lost his family during the catastrophic partition of India and Pakistan. The troubled childhood of young Milkha gives us a clear picture of the brutalities that followed the partition.
Though the young, passionate, and determined Milkha Singh makes it to the track, the scenes where he is relentlessly lashed by other athletes indirectly speak of the class domination existing in the industry.
Tamil film Kana (2018) too highlighted this predicament. Though the movie was not my favorite since I think it could have been given a stronger climax, it was partially successful in portraying the struggles of a lower-class girl’s struggle to make it big in the glamorous sport, cricket.
Sultan (2016) on the other hand may be a film made for a commercial venture. But I liked the way the film focuses on the wrestler’s downfall due to his arrogance and then the man coming back as a much better athlete. The hard reality is that this is true if you peek into the lives of many sportspeople.
It would be a sin if I do not mention Dangal (2016) while speaking of wrestling movies. This film too produces shades of arrogance that pull down the best wrestler in the country. However, the main emphasis goes to the struggle of a father who dreams big for his girls.
Set in the backdrop of Haryana, the state with the least female sex ratio, Dangal lashes out the conventions and age-old belief that wrestling is only for men. The hard work of the lead actors has been well reflected throughout the movie. The climax fills you with patriotism and makes you want to try a hand in wrestling (I know I did!). So far, Dangal earns the reputation of one of the best Indian films on wrestling.
Mary Kom is one of my favorite athletes. Her story is something that the world needs to know. She never let the social norms and stereotypes pull her down. Though forgotten by the authorities and public, the mother of three was not ready to call it off. There could not have been a better choice than Priyanka Chopra to essay the role of one of the strongest women the country has ever seen. The director of Mary Kom, Omung Kumar ensured that the film remains realistic and convincing in its narrative.
With many more sports movies on the way, the bond between movies and sports is only getting stronger.
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