I was on a rampage with my perfect mango margarita(s) while S and I were discussing cricket yesterday. He was playfully describing his love for Dhoni along with his brilliance as a Cricket Captain of India.
I say to him that I am not an expert, in the matters of cricket, merely because of the lack of interest. However, I do remember, that in 2003, when I got my first period, India was playing with Australia for the World Cup finals. I remember how nervous I was, while the whole household of Ajmer was equally buzzed with the electric current of it. How we used to bet with our household help Pappu, on how many runs Sehwag will score. I remember, I used to glue myself on the lucky spot, not moving for hours, fearing that someone might get out, if India was batting. We had bribed all sorts of Gods and Goddesses with a variety of monetary and personal sacrifices, and yet, with all the moh-maya, India lost that year. Australia won the world cup.
India vs Pakistan cricket match was a different story all together. I was emotionally indifferent towards the political rivalry because I had little idea regarding the politics. All I knew, that when India played against Pakistan, it was like a crawl of emotions beneath your skin, threatening to rip you apart. My grandfather who had fought Indo-Pak war(s) in his time, would shout at the top of his lungs when it was a sixer by our boys. Everything stopped for a while. If you go to a shop, the match would be playing on the TV muted in the background. If the vegetable vendor came, the radio would be blaring on top of the eggplant pile. Emotions were always raw. Like someone has awakened something within you, a dormant beast, even within a 14 year old or younger. Goose bumps were common and your whole family including your grandmother-who had more idea of batting averages btw than you did- were all gathered in front of that meagre TV set, that you tied your hopes with. Everything was nail-biting. Your heart thumped and fingers crossed, you would watch that cricket match where all your patriotism poured out as hot lava. If India lost, India burnt in despair. Fans would walk on the streets and burn posters of the cricketers. If India won, crackers could be heard all around, and India burnt in happiness.
Years later, I walked into the theater to watch Sachin: The Billion Dreams expecting a pure commercial potluck that M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story and Azhar had delivered in the past. Though I was purely entertained by both of them, I was reluctant to get inside the theater where clarifications were done and misunderstandings were sorted out or a love story twist.
So when I entered the theater this time, with no research done on my end, I was slurping away my Fanta to glory. I had no intention whatsoever to take back home melancholy or nostalgia that the game usually brewed inside me. But, by watching Sachin and the rest of the Tendulkars, I was mystified. Imagine my surprise, that I was not watching any shaped up Bollywood star enacting Sachin, but Sachin himself. Spanning a career from 1989-2012, I just did not understand what drove this man. He talks about his love for his family, the love for cricket, the love for his father and all the great loves of his life. In the end it became apparent that the mere desire of achieving a World Cup, bullied this man to insanity and back. Well, he did achieve his World Cup in 2011. I think I was falling in Love, with him.
The first half was routine, childhood stories and mischief of the bundle of joy. Little enactments, but mostly a well blended collection of home videos and interviews with his closest. The Little Master was just 16 when he made his International debut vs Pakistan. Sachin looked like a neighborhood kid supporting a brazen moustache of puberty, displaying humility. The film touches his meeting with Anjali, and how the 5 years older spouse played enormous role in his career. Sachin was just 22 when he married Anjali, a MD in Pediatrics who was 27 at the time. There was no drama. Still going strong after 22 years of marriage, Sachin restores my belief in the institution ( by a small margin).
Fanta untouched, the second half enters post the death of Sachin’s father- Ramesh Tendulkar. It shows, merely a journey of chasing a wild dream. The dream, of holding the world cup despite physical misgivings. You can see Shane Warne, Sourav Ganguly, Harsha Bhogle and many others describing him as a man with immense talent. Undeniably, there is a larger consensus, that Sachin is the man he is today because of his talent and HARDWORK! Apparently, that is why his career spanned for over two decades while people came and went…
With the hope that Arjun Tendulkar, Sachin’s son, may play for India one day, the movie concludes with Sachin’s last match. One cannot hope to imagine, what Arjun will be up against- a lifetime of battle with his father’s legacy OR creating his own along the way.
In the end, I walked out of the theater, yearning to watch a cricket match with Sachin playing live at the Wankhede Stadium. Alas, I cannot go back in the time machine and strike an item off my bucket list. Sachin’s dream was rightfully dreamt by us billion, and he and I and you, all could dream it to live it!