Yesterday night my father and I had the treat of watching “Sachin – A Billion Dreams” (English) at INOX in R-City Mall, Ghatkopar. My dad had booked the 9 30 pm show (First Day Third Show) in the ‘Insignia’ screen – the business class for movies, since English was available in Insignia only; in the first few days. The service was at an entirely different level – with the staff showing us around the theatre screens while the cleaning was going on, and calling us (when we were seated in the lobby – which had comfy red sofas) when the cleaning was done and we could take our seats in the theatre. There were just 5 rows in the theatre and the seats were huge, sofa-like – with a neat little touchscreen device, with which we could make the seats recline, just like in a business class flight!
Anyway, coming to the movie; it was a really well-taken documentary. We get to have a look at the entire family – his mother fondly reminisces Sachin’s pranks in his schooldays – particularly one where he puts a frog in the tiffin box. He has great fun with his elder brothers and sister – his brother Nitin is the one who can control him when he gets too naughty(when even his father can’t). His vivacious sister Savita buys him a cricket bat for his birthday. The other brother Ajit proves to be the main role model for Sachin, of course apart from father Ramesh. When they go to the nets, Sachin struggles against the season ball; it stops on him, as he is used to playing the tennis ball which has more bounce. Ajit suggests to the to-be-coach Mr. Ramakant Achrekar that he goes away while his brother is batting; so that he doesn’t get nervous. It works and Sachin is able to play his shots freely – leading to Mr. Achrekar finally taking notice of him and bringing him under his wing for coaching.
Once the cricket coaching begins in earnest, we see a transformation in Sachin; from a kid notorious (as he himself puts it) for his mischief, to a serious, hardworking and dedicated cricketer. Due to his strenuous training sessions right after school, he barely has time for anyone at home. This leads to stress in school as well, with him getting a scolding after sleeping in class. So, his parents make a wise decision to have him stay at his aunt’s place instead- which happens to be very close to the cricket coaching centre. Sachin’s aunt bowls to him at home, and thus he develops his back-foot stroke-play and defence. Mr. Achrekar is a strict but excellent coach; even when Sachin scores a century in a match he doesn’t praise him, as he fears success would go to his head otherwise.
As described in Gulu Ezekiel’s biography of Sachin, his debut in Pakistan in 1989 is truly a ‘baptism by fire’. During the 3rd Test, when a bouncer smashes into his nose (those days he used a helmet with no grill); making it a bloody mess, the Pakistan players suggest that he should go to the hospital. However, Sachin bravely plays on, realizing that cricket would be full of such injuries and he must learn to cope up with them; while at the same time playing the way he wanted to. His first meeting with his eventual wife Anjali a year later is very sweet – she sees him at an airport and goes gaga, dancing with joy – which Sachin obviously notices and remembers vividly; telling her on the phone when she calls him (after getting his number from her friend) – so they meet up and begin dating soon. It is also very heartening to note that Anjali sacrifices her dreams of a medical career (being a brilliant medical student) just for Sachin’s sake. A man couldn’t have asked for a better example of an ideal woman to spend the rest of his life with!
Sachin at first seems happy to accept the captaincy in 1996, but things soon go badly wrong. After disastrous tours of South Africa and West Indies, Sachin’s mood reflects in his home as well – he shuts himself in his room and doesn’t sleep at night. His wife Anjali has already accepted that cricket comes first to her husband and family second – so she is able to understand that his behaviour is a result of taking team India’s (and his captaincy) failures personally. However, as Anjali observes; though Sachin doesn’t spend much time with family; whenever he does – that time is wonderful, especially with his first child Sara. Sachin is at first really upset to be sacked from the captaincy in 1998 without prior notice; however, free from the burden, he takes his game to new heights – winning the famous battle against Shane Warne by preparing for the wicket rather than the bowler – getting local leg spinners to bowl on the rough patches(in the pitch) to him at the nets.
Then, during the 1999 World Cup in England – comes the shocking news of his beloved father passing away. After the funeral in Mumbai, everyone at home tells Sachin that he must go back and play for his country; as that is what his father would have wanted. It was heart-rending to see Sachin muster all his courage and strength, and return to score a century in the very next game against Kenya; while fighting back his tears. Then come the match-fixing scandals as Indian cricket undergoes its darkest phase and stones are hurled at the players’ houses. Fortunately for Sachin, during these times; his wife Anjali doesn’t discuss with him about problems at home, and he has a group of friends to share his troubles with. It is amazing to see the meticulous plans he has for bowlers (like Andrew Caddick and Shoaib Akhtar) who target him during the 2003 World Cup in South Africa, where he has a stellar run; getting the Player of the Tournament trophy.
When Australia amass a mammoth total of 359 in the final, Sachin tells the team that this herculean target is achievable if they split it into parts – score a boundary every over, and it comes down to 160 in 250 balls! However, Sachin gets out in the very first over to Glenn McGrath; and the hopes die with him. A year later, Sachin is plagued by various injuries – toe, hamstring and the infamous (and most excruciating) tennis elbow. Harsha Bhogle jokes that Indians get to know the full human anatomy thanks to Tendulkar! Sachin is very frustrated – it looks like his career might be over – but he summons all his determination and returns to play (a little too soon) after treatment. We get a somewhat humorous view of how Indian cricket plummets under the coaching of Greg Chappell – during a training session he says “If anyone misses training I am going to scream!” . After India’s humiliating first-round exit at the 2007 World Cup in West Indies; the media quizzes him and he keeps saying “We didn’t play well enough” repeatedly.
After the World Cup, Sachin is upset on reading articles about ‘Endulkar’; but fortunately he gets an unexpected call from his idol the great Sir Vivian Richards, telling him to continue playing; and that there is a lot of cricket left in him. Before the 2011 World Cup in the Indian subcontinent, the fans beg the team to bring the World Cup back home; and it becomes a rallying point for the team – Win the Cup for Tendulkar, for it is his last chance. After India beat arch-rivals Pakistan in the semifinal, we get to see Gary Kirsten’s very different approach as coach; for he tells the players calmly “Lets not celebrate all night, because we have only two days left before the final.” Sachin is completely charged up at the prospect of winning a World Cup final at his home Mumbai, so it is understandable that he goes blank after losing his wicket; during the chase of 275 against Sri Lanka in the final.
Fortunately (as we know! :D) MS Dhoni (along with Gautam Gambhir) with a superb captain’s innings ensures that the 2003 World Cup final would not be repeated, and Sachin finally gets the one Trophy he has been desperately seeking throughout his career – one that he would have gladly traded his 2003 Player of the Tournament Trophy for. After this, I felt the movie should have cut to the ending more quickly than it did; though Sachin’s retirement scene was touching. Harsha Bhogle did a good job in voicing over quite a few scenes, and it was good to see various international cricketers speaking; like Sir Vivian Richards, Sir Ian Botham, Wasim Akram and even the late Sir Donald Bradman ! The background by A.R.Rahman (the Tendulkar of music ;)) was superb, and some songs were good – ‘Hind Meri Jind’ and ‘Sachin Sachin’. I felt it was perfect timing to have ‘Maa Tujhe Salaam’ play the moment Dhoni hits that six to win the final.
On a whole, absolutely must watch for cricket enthusiasts, IMHO. My Rating: 8 out of 10.