Beyond All Boundaries: Documentary that first predicted Prithvi Shaw's success!
Prithvi Shaw is a household name now. After his fantastic performance at the U19 World Cup, he and other players of the team have become the toast of the nation. Now you can find hours of video online, analyzing his charismatic stroke play. But the credit of first recording his story on film and telling it to the world goes to the documentary Beyond All Boundaries.
Shot in 2011, parallel to India’s famous World Cup victory, the Prithvi Shaw portions of the film carry an undeniable charm. The film has some experts touting him as the next big thing in Indian cricket. It is thrilling to realize that Shaw is living up to those expectations. He is still not quite the ‘next big thing’, but he is steadily getting there.
Often, he is compared with the one and only Sachin Tendulkar. The victorious U-19 World Cup skipper is not only a prodigiously talented right-handed batsman from Mumbai, but also his strokes have a striking resemblance to that of the Little Master. Now, much like his idol, the 18 year-old has also found bat sponsorship with MRF. The teenager also seems to share the spunk that Tendulkar famously carried with him at a similar age. During his debut tour to Pakistan in 1989, when 16 year-old Tendulkar was hit on the nose by a bouncer, he refused to go back to the pavilion, despite a bleeding nose, eventually scoring a feisty half century that made everyone sit up and take notice of him.
A segment from Beyond All Boundaries seems almost like a replay of that famous Tendulkar incident: We have a 12 year-old Shaw, who is just about as tall as the stumps, taking his mark to face bowlers at least 10 years older and a couple of feet taller than him. Shaw doesn’t judge the ball from one big bowler and it hits him right on his helmet. For a few moments the bowler, fielders, as well as us as viewers, have our hearts in our mouths. But the little boy looks unfazed. He takes a few steps away from the stumps to absorb the shock of the impact, but never once does he even touch his helmet, let alone remove it. He recovers from shock and then also manages to score a few runs for his team. Such grittiness at a tender age of 12 years must have made people watching him believe that he is destined for greatness.
By his own lofty standards, Prithvi Shaw must not be fully satisfied with his batting in the U19 World Cup. But nobody would deny that he lead the team admirably. His fielding placements were spot on, especially during the high-tension India-Pakistan semi-final, which saw him placing himself in the gully and taking two spectacular catches there. The bowling changes, more often than not, got him wickets at crucial stages. Captaincy seemed to sit lightly on the 18 year-old’s shoulder. The tough task of leading his side seems to come naturally to him. We come to know from Beyond All Boundaries that he has been captaining his school sides even when he was the youngest in the team. His school Rizvi Springfield, once boasted of a team consisting of him, Armaan Jaffer and Sarfaraz Khan. Despite Jaffer and Khan being senior as well as popular batsmen, by then, it was Shaw who used to captain the side. The youngster not only seems to be gifted with strokeplay, but a lot of cricketing sense as well.
It is fascinating to notice in the film that the style with which he plays his strokes now was already fully formed when he was just 12 years-old. We are shown Shaw shadow practicing his shots and realise that he played a few of them in exactly the same manner in the recent World Cup. One thing that has changed for Prithvi over the years is the trigger movement which makes him move his back foot towards the leg side. That trigger movement, which came under sharp criticism of the commentators, is apparently a recent development, as in the movie he doesn’t seem to have it.
Beyond All Boundaries, however, is not limited to Prithvi Shaw. It is about two other cricket stories – the famous Sudhir Gautam and Mumbai U19 girls’ team player Akshaya Surve. These three stories woven together under the backdrop of India’s run towards the finals, make for a rather engaging watch. But the way Prithvi Shaw has lived up to the promise shown in the film has made his portions of the documentary most interesting. It would be even better if the filmmaker keeps up following Prithvi’s growth as a cricketer at various points in his career.