DISCLAIMER: I don’t like, watch or play cricket. I don’t follow it. I am not one of the billion fans glued to the television during one of the key matches. And the word bat, immediately brings to my mind a creature that flies in the dark!

So WHY THE H#@$ did I go for the Sachin movie?

Real answer? To watch it. To know more. And, because while I don’t watch or like cricket, I do understand a bit, and I do like our national heroes.

Oh wait… one more reason, curiosity! It’s wonderful to peep into an achiever’s life and see what got him there (and figure out whether you can do that too – with or without the help of a willow!)

That’s a lot of formalities out of the way.

Most people think that a documentary/film on a world-renowned cricketer will be about cricket! How wrong they are! A film on heroes is about heroism It’s about struggle and victory. It’s about triumph over adversity. It’s about falling and getting up, every single time. It’s about knowing that into every life some rain must fall.

Biopic or documentary is probably the best way to describe this film. Made with Sachin Tendulkar himself in the lead, a celebrated cricket God in India and globally, the film traces his life back from his birth in a small unassuming family in Mumbai, to his achievement of superstardom and global acclaim in the game of cricket.

Written by James Erskine and Siva Ananth and directed by James Erskine, the narrative flows well, and without playing games, starts at the beginning and moves in a smooth manner chronologically. What stands out in a word is: Simplicity. From a non-cricket person’s standpoint, this is about a character and not the game. What I liked about the way the film has been made is its adherence to facts as they are, and it’s attempt to reveal the hero as he is. It does both jobs very well and weaves between narrative, dramatization (of young Sachin) and talking heads in a seamless manner. In fact, sometimes, bringing in a personal point of view of a related character adds so much value to what is happening that it elevates the whole documentary to almost the level of fiction! For instance, in one of his troubled times, the narrative comes from Anjali Tendulkar, his wife. What better viewpoint could you get?

The film effectively traces Sachin’s early days, his first brush with cricket – his first touch of a willow when his sister gifts him one – and moves on to how every member of his family has been singular in contributing to his success. Starting with his parents, his sister, his brother (who still is an integral part of his life) to his aunt and uncle with whom he lived so his dream could be nurtured. Truly, while we drool in adulation over a hero, we hardly ever think back on how it takes a village to bring success to the door. Sachin’s story brings that well, thankfully without the hype and hoopla associated with much of the mass-produced Hindi films.

While the film takes us through the ups and downs of his cricket career, it opens up effectively the fourth wall for us to get an inside view of a hero – through good times and bad. Sachin’s simplicity comes out in the end as he delivers his final speech before retiring. As an event that has happened in recent history, one knows that there was not a single dry eye in the nation as this God of Cricket spoke, not as a speaker, but as a humble player, and had a billion hearts held at ransom through the entire duration of the speech.

The film portrayed sensitively yet factually all of that this hero embodies – hard work, determination, humility, success and eventually gratitude. A lot of learning for young aspirants. If they do want an idol to worship, maybe they should get off their knees and really get into the crease like he did – with single-minded devotion. That essentially is the secret of his success.

While not being a cricket fan, I don’t exactly live under a rock. So, I was quite surprised to hear naysayers talking about how much Sachin Tendulkar charged and how the movie was another way of making money. Seriously?! Have you never discussed how much Shahrukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan charge for a film? And why not? Are they more justified because they are actors and Sachin is not? Let’s play fair here. What is really to be thought about (preferably by thinking beings) is this:  the film was a documentary (I hate the term docudrama, doesn’t fit in here) and, adding to the authenticity was that Sachin has shared some of his private home videos for the world to see. In my mind, he has put himself out there in front of the world for all to see. In fact, ironically, M S Dhoni commented after seeing this film, that he wished he had those kinds of memories to share. (The film made on him is another post in the future!)

Did the film hit a boundary?

Once again, I’m not playing the stroke that most cricket enthusiasts will – and not going into historical details of what was covered and what was not. Film is an engaging medium, a biography can be inspirational or not. When the two come together effectively to make it both – engaging and inspirational, you’ve hit the ball out of the stadium.

If you like cricket, go switch on the television. If you like heroes and films watch the film.

Sharing the real clip of Sachin’s farewell speech below

Even if you don’t see the entire clip, the chorus of the crowds cheering SACHIIIIIN! SACHINNNN! the constant applause and his simple heartfelt speech will demonstrate how this one hero fueled a billion dreams. Like I said before, I doubt there was a single dry eye that day in the country.