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Bollywood & Cricket...Individually, Rocks! Together, Sucks!


Monojit Lahiri wonders why movies on cricket or Cricket Stars in movies continue to be clean bowled, first ball !
MONOJIT LAHIRI | Issue Dated: September 15, 2013, New Delhi
Tags : Bollywood | Cricket | IPL | Shahrukh Khan | Tiger Pataudi | Awwal Number | Dil Bole Hadippa | Hattrick | Victory | Stumped | Chain Kulli ki Main Kulli | Meera Bai Not Out |

Okay, don’t scream, but I just gotta unleash a (yawn) cliché for the zillionth time in context to this piece:  In India there are only two religions, Cricket & Bollywood! Okay, now that we’ve got that out of the way, isn’t it curious that there are some rather interesting facts that stands this great statement on its head?

True, SRK, Preity Zinta & Shilpa Shetty own IPL teams and their antics on the field and off – it demonstrates their passion for this brand of (tamasha?) cricket.  Agreed, the classy Tiger Pataudi married gorgeous actress Sharmila Tagore.  So did stylish Azhar & Sangeeta Bijlani.  The flamboyant Windies super-star Viv Richards went one step ahead and crossed all boundaries to produce a daughter – Masaba – out of wedlock with actress Nina Gupta! Sure, there was once solid buzz about Deepika & M.S.Dhoni, Yuvi & Kim Sharma, Bhajji & actress Geeta  Basra, even Minnisha Lamba with Oz mountain man, Andrew Symonds.  However when it comes to movies on or about this great game – its zilch!  For the record, beyond the amazingly inspirational lagaan and superbly sensitive Iqbal its been a scary score card!  Whether its Dev Anand‘s 80’s Awwal Number and later Dil Bole Hadippa, Hattrick, Victory, Stumped, Chain Kulli ki Main Kulli, Meera Bai Not Out or Patiala House its been no-no all the way.  Comparitively other sports have fared better, be it Lagaan, Chak De, Pan Singh Tomar and now Bhaag Milkha Bhaag.  Priyanka Chopra’s portrayal of Olympic boxer Mary Kom in a future project promises to be an interesting affair too.  Question is: why despite such humongous, collective craze in both these areas, do these disasters happen?  Isn’t the combo of glam-stars, with cricket as a thematic backdrop, a readymade recipe for super success?

“Not at all” declares Arvind Pathak, a 19 year old Mumbai-based college student and ardent fan of both Bollywood & cricket.  He says that “people forget that these two professions have their very own exclusive charm & flourish in their specific zones.  To blindly club them together and hope that magic will blindly club them together and hope that magic will happen is super-dumb!”  32 year old IT executive Mira Seth agrees.  The Toronto-based young lady is convinced that “most of the filmy bozos have got their wires crossed!  Everything in life doesn’t have readymade shortcuts and the row of duds prove that. Lagaan was a breathtakingly audacious film that showcased a number of inspirational aspects – bonding, team spirit, leadership, leadership, focus, self-belief, passion – beyond cricket.  Iqbal was a super sensitive & moving tale riding on the triumph of the human spirit, moulded but not mastered by circumstances, winning against all odds.  Comparatively the others were laughable attempts at cashing in on the mass appeal of both through flimsy, sketchy story lines.  They deserved what they got!”

Critics believe that it’s a very tricky area and both the screen & the pitch can be dangerously unpredictable spaces!  Taking this case further, they point towards the pathetic showing of sporting stars, on screen.  Remember the attractive & chirpy Ajay Jadeja?  Both his attempts – Khel and Pal Pal Dil ke Saath – were clean bowled in the very first (over?) week.  The colourful Vinod Kambli gave it a shot too and went the Jadeja route to the pavilion in record time with Anarth.  Years ago, the dashing, popular all rounder Salim Durrani took a chance with Charitra in a 1973 movie with the glam Parveen Babi as co-star.  No prizes for guessing its fate!  Ditto with Sandeep Patil romancing beautiful Bangla belle Debashree Roy in Kabhi Ajnabi The.

At the end of the day, both Bollywood & cricket – despite enjoying mass craze – have different DNA’s & defining points and are consumed differently by their fans.  M.S. Dhoni may be Captain Cool but his skillset & genius lies on the playing field.  Ranbir Kapoor may be the new, young superstar, sexy dude & charmer par excellence, but his talents lie in his performances, on screen.  Mindlessly mixing them up, through plot or characters and hoping you’ve got a winner, speaks of mental deficiency!  Be it Lagaan or Iqbal, Chak De or BMB, remember immense blood, sweat & tears were dispensed before the rousing cheers happened …

Trade Analyst Taran Adarsh sums it up aptly when he says “Cricket – or sports – can only be a part of the story or backdrop.  The critical component is the narrative that adds to the thrill.  A fitting, rousing climax that gets the audiences to jump with joy – Lagaan, Chak De – is the clincher, not filmy glamour or star appeal.  Frequently film-makers confuse the two and are … run out!”


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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017