India, 2011 on the eve of the cricket World Cup, won only once by India in 1983. In this immense nation which has a population of one billion, cricket... more isn’t just a game, cricket is a religion. Here the people: “Eat cricket, drink cricket and sleep with cricket”.
This documentary follows the lives of three individuals whose lives have been touched by cricket in different ways. Sudhir Kumar Gautam is a 30-year-old super-fan who describes his job as supporting the national team. Considered ‘insane’ by his family, he travels around the country (which is over 13 times the size of the UK) by bike to see every India home match, complete with the shape of India shaved on top of his head and painted the colours of the flag. Akshaya Surve, 18, is hopeful to become a professional cricketer and is preparing for the Mumbai Under-19s girls try-outs to get on the first step to fulfilling her dream. Prithvi Shaw, only 12 years old, is the youngest player on his local team and everyone around him –his father, local politician and coaches, pin their hopes on him being the next Sachin Tendulkar, India’s cricketing hero.
As we journey through the country, we bear witness to the undeniable uniting factor of this sport in a country which otherwise suffers great divides. Cricket fever is sweeping the nation and we get moved along in the hype. The lengths that people will go to for cricket is astounding. They will play cricket with anything and anywhere; crowds gather around tiny old TV sets in the street; people pray to the holy cows; Akshaya fasts, Sudhir is disinterested in starting a family and would rather devote his life to this game than find himself a wife.
Filming in the streets opens us up to a world of colour and spice where we see
a people’s passion for the sport that was introduced to them when they were a British colony but which they have truly adopted as their own. Now is time for India, a rising power on the global scene, to affirm its place in the world. Indian team member, Yurraj Singh, struggles to find the words to express this: “This country needed the World Cup so badly. I can’t even explain…”
The joy of their win is infectious. We have been introduced to people whose lives are unimaginably difficult, whose daily challenges would be hard for us to understand, and who take refuge in cricket. Cricket brings them joy, could bring them money, could bring them fame (it already has done for diehard fan Sudhir, bringing him a fan-base of his own) and could open a door to a better life.
DIRECTOR: Sushrut Jain
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