Despite cricket’s mass appeal in the country, many cricket-based films have failed to work.
Cricket and movies are the two mega forms of entertainment in India. But rarely do the two add up to a perfect partnership. Most films centred around cricket have failed to make cash registers ring, but cricket as a theme spells much promise, and is repeatedly taken up and explored. The latest entry to the bandwagon of cricketainment is India’s first Amazon Original series titled Inside Edge, created by Karan Anshuman. The drama series is set in the world of Indian professional cricket and features ups and downs of a cricket team through a season of the Powerplay League, a fictional version of Indian Premier League.
Recently released James Erskine’s Sachin: A Billion Dreams is a docu-fiction. Other cricket-inspired films included biopics of M.S. Dhoni and Azharuddin. Fictional films like Victory and Dil Bole Hadippa too failed to impress the audience. Despite cricket’s mass appeal in the country, what led to the failure of many cricket-based entertainment?
“I wish I, or anybody in the world, knew what the formula is for cricketainment to be successful. If there was, everybody would have used it and every film and every web series would have succeeded,” says trade analyst Komal Nahta.
In case of biopics, the cricketer does play a huge influence, says Komal, but that is not enough for the film’s success.
“According to me, Azhar was a below standard film, whereas M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story was a fantastic film. But one cannot put Sachin… and M.S. Dhoni in the same bracket because the former was a docu-feature. Indian audience is not very used to watching films of the said genre. But Sachin being such an big iconic figure, the audience did give it a shot,” explains Komal.
For cricketer-turned-actor Salil Ankola, a cricket-themed film needs to adhere to fact for it to score a hit. “In India, not just actors, but cricketers too are ‘heroes’ for many. Cricket and cinema are the two things that bind the nation together,” he says, adding, “In terms of what works and what doesn’t, whichever film is true to facts does well.”
Actress Chitrashi Rawat, who is popular for her role as Komal Chautala in the film Chak De India, feels that filmmakers need to have knowledge about the sport to produce a great film based on it. “Cricket being a sport which is played in every gully of the country, one might think that making a film based on the sport or making cricketers’ biopics is easy. But a lot of homework needs to be done. In Chak de… for instance, we all played as if we had to win for the country. Having a sense of the sport and the struggle behind it is extremely important,” says Chitrashi.