Sachin: A Billion Dreams....For Staunch Sachin fans.

Films on sports did not work with the Indian audience for a long time. If at all some producers dared make a film, it would be mainly on cricket. Of the dozens of films made on sports, less than half a dozen have worked while a couple of others, like Iqbal and Budhia Singh: Born To Run, earned critical appreciation but no moolah.

The reason was very simple. India had not learnt to win games, be it cricket or the game at which we once excelled, hockey. Things changed as the tide turned and Indian sportspersons started coming back with cups and medals in the new century.

Yet, the trend has been on making biopics on sports for the obvious reason that with success a sportsman is elevated to a cult status. The recent hits in this genre are Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Paan Singh Tomar, Mary Kom, MS Dhoni: The Untold Story and Dangal.

Sachin: A Billion Dreams is not dramatized as it is done with other films. It is a linear biographical documentary on the rise, temporary fall and rise again of Sachin Tendulkar, culminating in the very dream that drew him to cricket: The 1983 World Cup victory of India and KapilDev, the then Captain, holding the World Cup ODI trophy aloft. To hold a world cup in his hands was Sachin’s dream and the Indian team realized it for him in 2011.

Sachin announced his retirement soon thereafter in stages.

As for the film, most of it is retrieved footage from television. While the film tells about Sachin, it is also the journey of the Indian cricket over about the last quarter century. From the days when BCCI (Board Of Control for Cricket in India) had to pay 5.5 lakh to the national TV channel, Doordarshan, to telecast cricket matches to how the post-1991 economic reforms led to the first time that a TV channel, ESPN, paid $5.5 million to BCCI for the telecast rights Indian cricket matches.

It is about how Ajit Tendulkar sees the potential in his kid brother, Sachin, and takes him to the best cricket coach in town, RamakantAchrekar, to hone his talent. How Sachin then went on to set an interschool league match record with his schoolmate, VinodKambli, with anunbroken partnership of 664 in 1988.
The rest is about Sachin’s selection to Mumbai Ranji Trophy team and, soon after, to the Indian team as the youngest player ever to make the cut; he was 16 years and 205 days.

The early parts of the film deal with Sachin’s middle-class Bandra East family, his love for his family, especially his father, Ramesh, which bordered on devotion, and their support for his cricket, including how brother Ajit took him to Mumbai’s legendary cricket ground, ShivajiPark for practise sessions every day.

So far the film is very engrossing with the proceedings having a human interest angle. Also interesting are the parts about his romance and marriage to Anjali Mehta, a qualified doctor a few years older to him.

As the film moves in to the second half, it seems to be in a hurry to wrap it up. A montage of various matches and tournaments follow without timelines or who is playing whom. Even the World Cup that India won which fulfilled Sachin’s life ambition is shoddily projected. Who is India playing with, what is the target? No such details on screen! This despite all the records available all over the net as well as the archives. AR Rahman’s background score adds some zing to the proceedings.

Sachin, used to facing the cameras thanks to his numerous endorsements, is comfortable telling his story.
Sachin: A Billion Dreams is a documentary, pure and simple, sans drama. The film will find favour with his fans with its best prospects in Western India.

Producers: Ravi Bhagchandka, Carnival Motion Pictures.

Director: James Erskine.

Cast: Sachin Tendulkar, Anjali Tendulkar, Sara Tendulkar, Arjun Tendulkar along with many brief appearances by celebrities.

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