Sports films: Indian entertainment industries' evergreen success formula

Films on sports have always been winners, even during the stages where the script is being discussed.

Published: 15th April 2019 11:07 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th April 2019 11:42 AM   |  A+A-

A still from Chennai 28.

A still from Chennai 28.

Express News Service

Cinema and cricket are the two Cs that rule Indian entertainment. Ranveer Singh’s film under production, ‘83, has him playing Kapil Dev, and I was pleasantly surprised to see a Tamil actor tweet about it. A closer look at the photograph in that tweet showed me why.

The actor was Jeeva: One of the more affable people I’ve interacted with in the film industry and a competent actor whose talent merits more notable roles. He’s playing Krish Srikkanth in the biopic that’s about India winning its first World Cup in 1983.

Films on sports have always been winners, even during the stages where the script is being discussed. It’s because everyone loves the story of a triumph against all odds. 

It’s the stuff we aspire for in our lives: To understand what goes beyond one’s control, and to reclaim it to win glory. That’s what makes anyone a hero. And we Indians love heroes.

We love to celebrate that one individual who stands out from us. And hence, we have a film industry and the field of sports lined up with icons. But sports, unlike cinema, is a real-time event wherein the skills of an individual are tested against stiff competition.

So, all the more merit in wanting to see a victory against opponents. We get inspired when we see the girls in Dangal win their wrestling medals. We cheer for the girl in Secret Superstar who wins the singing competition. We clap the loudest when Gully Boy makes his mark. We see a surge in human emotion as a fellow Indian holds the flag high with their sporting talent.

Cinema, then, becomes that medium which brings to life such moments. The Hindi film industry already has a great line up of films for each sport and sports icons.  

In Telugu, a film starring Nani called Jersey is up for release. It is a cricketer’s story, though I’m not quite sure if it’s a biopic. Talents like dancing and music also have their own appeal but nothing comes close to a cricket-crazy nation where being able to bowl leg-spin is seen as coveted and rare.

Kanaa in Tamil is a film which must be applauded for highlighting both cricket and women. The positive feedback for that film has to be that it was a starting point for more such films to follow.

Talking of cinema and cricket, Chennai 600028 is perhaps the landmark film that changed the game for how a sport is depicted on the Tamil screen. And then, there is also Vennila Kabbadi Kuzhu. To be honest, we can come up with a lot more. Irudhi Suttru is another film that comes to my mind. 

Interestingly, we do have athletes, weight-lifting champions and rowers in Tamil Nadu, who win medals across competitions, but little is seen and heard about them. That probably explains why we have less than a handful of films on sporting icons from our State.

The more media highlights such success stories and triumphant tales of our talented sports people, the more films we will get to see and derive inspiration from. I am an attentive audience member for such narratives. My lips curve into a slow smile and eyes well up in tears as I see the last high-speed winning shot of the protagonist in action. What about you?

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