Sports and movies are perhaps two of the biggest entertainers across the world. Perhaps this is why movies with sports as the central plotline tend to do well amongst the masses, despite differences in geography and the evident lack of understanding of concepts of sporting elements portrayed on reel.
The latter being a by-product of the former, is also a major distinctive factor that separates Hollywood from its Indian cinematic counter-part. As sportaholic Indians are, sports has rarely been utilised to showcase variance of cinemascope, though movies depicting actor-characters as brilliant sportsmen has been utilised many-a-times – almost to the point of excess. And invariably, most of these depictions seem to come during song sequences, as if to proclaim the already-exalted status of the actor or actress in question. It’s in these times that Indian cinema starts to lose its brilliant sheen and becomes repetitive and emulative of what has been emphasised more of than not.
And it’s in these portrayals that Indian cinema gets type-casted unnecessarily. Doing a random comparison between sport-based movies made abroad and here in India, elicits a huge and glaring divergence. Caught between action and romance, where both are juxtaposed against each other in most films, Indian cinema’s mainstream presentation seems to have stagnated a bit. And in the recent theme of makeovers and sequels, the astuteness of film-makers seems to have deteriorated further. Every movie released has to have a sequel, at times without any rhyme or reason so much so that movie-goers just feel the need to change numbers following a film’s title, corresponding with the sequel number of the film.
Even as we talk about the increasing number of sequels and makeover films – leading to almost redundancy, providing a required diversion of attention to sports hitherto being neglected becomes a major upside of making sports-themed movies. The successful elaborating on fictional villagers playing cricket in colonial India and the quasi-factional tale of a hockey player coming from the shadows of lingering humiliation to lead a women’s team to victory, resulted in a revolutionary wave of attention being directed towards both these sports. Taking into context the recent success of Indian participants at the London Olympics, many a movie worthy tale can be scripted into reality.
Given the potentiality of the subject, parallel cinema creators can very well aim to dominate this thus-far unexplored niche thoroughly, considering their aptitude of deviating beyond the expected nuances and delivering finesse throughput. For, while non-conventional moviemakers have been an integral part of the Indian film industry since its nascent stages, even their contribution towards such sports-based films has been found to be lacking.
Hollywood movie directors and producers thus differ hugely from our Indian breed of filmmakers. Their manner of choosing a theme and then descriptively creating a two-hour marvel, is at times hard to believe and yet, simple to understand. Maybe in terms of originality they do lack, but their ability to put together real-life sporting events on the cinemascope becomes their pioneering factor as well. Sporting achievements – be it at any level – becoming their main plotline for a script thus helps to bring to life, sportspersons otherwise destined to remain in obscurity beyond their own country. Major or minor level athletes, their struggles and surmounts, are brought out thus helping fans and moviegoers to connect with names, otherwise perceived to be superhuman and surreal to standards of normalcy.
Contextualising India, movies about the much spoken and written about shuttlers and shooters and wrestlers and boxers, will help a whole nation understand what it means coming back home with six medals, after having been left disappointed for years together in the same quarterly event in the past.
Certain movies inspire like no other. Reconciling fact and fiction, perhaps even veering towards one more than both, movies bring recognition by association. Assigning names to faces and characters, movies are at times larger than life, giving solace along with some heady distraction. In a nation like India, where movies have come a long way in perhaps the shortest time-span possible, it’s high time we channelized our focus to other core movie-making issues. After all, it’s very well possible that an on-screen adaptation of Mary-Kom would be just as interesting, as a famous actor conjuring up dust-storms with his shoe.