the movie makes every indian to feel proud
A Charged-up Documentary That Avoids Objectivism. ♦ Grade C-
It is not surprising that a British filmmaker who specializes in TV was chosen to make a documentary about someone who is regarded highly by at least 7 out of 10 people in India. We really don't know how James Erskine came on board, but we can be sure that he hasn't watched Azhar (2016) or M S Dhoni: The Untold Story (2016) for then this sports documentary wouldn't have made the same mistakes they did.
Narrating the story of legendary Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar from his childhood when he first picked up a bat to his retirement in 2013, the documentary tries to masquerade as a film and goes on to etch his story into India's history of the last 30 years. How Sachin as a young boy is supported by his family to follow his call, how he met his wife Anjali and got married to her, how he dealt with failure, what his single-biggest dream was, his highs and lows, his health, and his connection with the Indian people is all what the documentary explores. Much how the two biopics mentioned earlier were made, here the idea of the makers is to accentuate Sachin's appeal as a legendary cricketer by avoiding objectivism. It is clear from the first frame that the makers had no idea to go deeper into the specifics, and instead just provide a superficial chronological time-line of his life that is already present in the public domain. Executed with doses of sentiments of peripheral patriotism, this one is as straightforward as it can get.
The biggest problem with the documentary is that it takes "cricket is a religion in India" too seriously and tries to tie Sachin's endeavors as elements that carved India's fate and are reasons why and how India is as it is today - which is first-class drivel. So much that it goes on to exaggerate a couple of events just to prove its point. Statements like "change in the country's luck", "country's fate", and "the power of Indians" are employed to give emphasis to the point.
For people wondering why we cannot call it a film, it's because the film is basically a collection of cricket match footage since the 80s and interviews. Of course, there are emotions attached to certain matches which bring back nostalgia (to Indians), which is why I have to use the word "goosebumps" here, but play any nail-biting match in the history of Indian cricket which was a turning point for the national team, and those pimples are sure to crop up. Former batsmen and bowlers, journalists, celebrities, his family members, and Sachin himself share their thoughts about the subject as the documentary simultaneously moves ahead in the time-line. There are some interesting tidbits that it offers - for example, episodes of match-fixing, rivalry, age-gap between players, and other miscellaneous events that shaped cricket in India - which are the only novel thing an average Indian will find in this feature. For outsiders, it will be much more.
How Sachin changed the essence of cricket in India, and helped it rise from its ashes is what the makers and Sachin himself repeatedly convey in the documentary. The only problem is that it is not entirely convincing. Showing that his dream is synonymous with the country's dream as far as cricket is concerned is bit of an overstatement, and that is what plays with its appeal.
Director Erskine has surely made a recipe that evokes emotions and pulls a cricket fan back to the good old days. The screenplay is crisp and filled with substance, even though most of it is rehash. The problem is that this is not how biopics are made. The characters do a decent job at talking out, and if character performance is really to be mentioned - it should be about the two young actors who played young Sachin. They looked like they were enjoying. Other than that, it's mostly Tendulkar, his wife, and other known players doing the talking.
All in all, it's a well-executed documentary that plays very safe and does not get bowled out. It will not disappoint a fan, but might a cinema enthusiast.
BOTTOM LINE: James Erskine's "Sachin" may have got the tag-line "A Billion Dreams" wrong, but it surely is an enjoyable, one-time affair. Just don't expect Sachin to open his closet. Go for a weekday afternoon show!
Can be watched with a typical Indian family? YES
"A whirlwind of emotions, nostalgia & goosebumps!!!"
India begins its defense of the Champions Trophy in a week's time with the first clash against arch rivals Pakistan. Whether our team manages to defend the title remains to be seen but this excitement for the game began after we had lifted the WC in 1983. However, it was the greatest cricketer of all time Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar who skyrocketed our interest with his brilliance, humility & character. In the 90s, he was so dominant that the opposition feared him while the public adored him to the extent that people used to switch off the TV after he was dismissed. He has given us numerous memories over the years & carried the hopes of the nation for more than two decades. Hence when director James Erskine announced that he was planning a movie on the Bharat Ratna, the hype & excitement had gone through the roof. In recent times, there has been quite a few biographical movies about sports personalities like M S Dhoni, Milkha Singh, Phogat etc. However, this was a docu-drama rather than an biopic & it remains to be seen whether it would be as awesome as the legend himself.
Sachinnnn...Sachinnnn...the chant still reverberates in my ears every time I set eyes on a cricket match. Just like many others, he was the sole reason why I started to watch the game & is one of the two idols that I always looked upto (the other being my father). I still remember the day when I first saw him on TV giving an interview to Tom Alter. In those days, the only cricketer's name that I knew was Kapil Dev & I was pretty fascinated to see a puny kid who was just 8 years older to me rub shoulders with the big guys. So I coaxed my mom, who was an avid sports lover to teach me the rules of the game. Incidentally the first match that I saw was the exhibition match in which he smashed the legendary Abdul Qadar for 27 which included four consecutive sixes. This craze continued until he hung his boots at the Wankhede Stadium after 24 long years. Erskine has tried to capture the highs & lows of Sachin's career, something which is not so easy after all he must have been the most scrutinized sports icon in the world. So there is hardly anything that most of us don't know about the Master Blaster.
James Erskine might not be a popular name for many but those who are well versed with sports documentaries, he is a doyen at it. Some of his popular ventures being "Battle of the Sexes", "Pantani", "Shooting for Socrates" etc. In his latest venture "Sachin: A Billion Dreams", he has pretty much covered all the major events in Sachin's life with insights provided by his family being the highlight. Knowing the person that Sachin is, it wasn't a surprise that nothing much has been revealed about the match fixing scandal but ample screen time is devoted on his relation with his father, his injuries & mental state during the lows of his career. Even though the music wasnt vintage A R Rahman, it was in sync with the mood & elevates the viewing experience.
Verdict: It wont rate as a top notch documentary drama but it has got everything that would keep us hooked. Sachin is not just a name but an emotion & for all of those individuals who had followed his career, this will give us an opportunity to relive the memories. It will make us smile, hoot, whistle & even choke a bit when he gives his heartfelt retirement speech. Being a hard core Sachin fan, I might be biased but even if you are only a cricket fan; you just cant afford to miss this!!!