Like his book, Tendulkar’s biopic is a nostalgic cruise through his career
As I walked out of the cinema hall after watching Sachin: A Billion Dreams, I wondered: Would I have thought differently of this biopic had I not known anything about the person it is based on? James Erskine’s documentary on one of the most celebrated cricketers in the world – one who has achieved a near-deific status in India – went along expected lines.
But was that because I, like many Indians and cricket followers around the world, already knew so much about Sachin Tendulkar? How would someone living under a rock for the last quarter of a century, and did not know who Tendulkar was, have liked it?
Sachin: A Billion Dreams starts off rather nicely, showing us a naughty curly-haired boy of seven or eight years living in Mumbai’s Bandra suburb, getting up to the usual seven-or-eight-year-old boy things like annoying his neighbours with pranks. The boy then receives a cricket bat as a gift from his elder sister, and this is where the story that most Indians and cricket followers already know begins.
The same old path
Sachin: A Billion Dreams goes down the same path as the two other biopics on Indian cricketers that were released in the last year – MS Dhoni: An Untold Story, and Azhar. The only difference is that Sachin is a documentary which features the cricketer himself – he is not played by actors. Obviously backed by Tendulkar, just like the two other biopics were supported by the cricketers they were based on, Sachin: A Billion Dreams is a glorified account of an already over-glorified celebrity.
All in all, this biopic is a celluloid version of Tendulkar’s autobiography, Playing It My Way. What was one of the most awaited sports autobiographies of all time, the book turned out to be a damp squib. It just about managed to tell you a few stories you did not already know about India’s most popular cricketer, it briefly touched upon his personal relationships with his family and friends, but otherwise read like a recital of scorecards of the matches he played, and refrained from going too deep into controversial subjects.
Tendulkar has been so overtly politically correct throughout his public life that is was quite surprising to see him criticise the Indian cricket board in the movie for the way it handled his captaincy. “You can take my captaincy away, but you can’t take cricket away from me,” he says, adding to the many fluffy quotes dished out throughout the movie, not just by him but also some others who have been interviewed. Among the sappiest was commentator Harsha Bhogle saying something along the lines of: Sunil Gavaskar came from a fixed-deposit generation, but Sachin’s generation believed in investing in equity.
The two individuals who have been singled out for some criticism in the movie are former India captain Mohammad Azharuddin, and Greg Chappell, who had a rather forgettable tenure as India coach. But then, Tendulkar had always made his views on Chappell clear much before the movie was released. Azharuddin, on the other hand, was criticised not for his embroilment in the match-fixing scandal, but because Tendulkar felt the Hyderabadi did not take his being appointed captain too well. |READMORE…