Sachin: A Billion Dreams Hindi Movie Review
It's like watching two and a half hours of YouTube videos of the sport of your choice but with the sports star giving you insights into his life. You love it, because you are a fan. But if you make it for the general public who have little or no interest in that particular sport and tell them this is a movie, then it had better be universal. Hollywood has made us believe there was a football star coming out of Liverpool in Goal, that there are many underdog sports hero films too with coach as hero but this film is not fiction. This is no Dhoni or Mary Kom, and neither is it Dangal.
It has Sachin talking about his life. How he was a naughty little boy, who grew up to be a serious, focussed cricketer, represented the country, played fabulously, and then retired gracefully. Everything is fantastic and coated with honey and dusted with sugar and fairy dust. Even the darkest period in cricket - the scandal of match fixing - is glossed over, because Sachin says, 'What could I say? It was unbelievable and stunning.' Considering how the 'movie' has gone so far, this does not surprise you.
What does intrigue you is the connection between his older brother Ajit Tendulkar and Sachin. It is a very zen like relationship which has the makings of a wonderful story all on its own. Sachin and his brother do face the camera and talk about it, but the filmmaker does not see the possibility of a fabulous story, rockstar younger brother who is supported by an older sibling who discovered the talent. No jealous moment, no envy of fame, no resentment of the money the rockstar makes, no wife that tells off the older brother to let go of the star, no family squabbles, no rebel son or daughter who resents an absent father, nothing bad ever happens to Sachin.
But even a non-fanboy will acknowledge that watching the early videos of the debut international matches was amazing. He was sixteen and facing the world's fastest bowlers like Shoaib Akhtar and Imran Khan, and when he ducked bouncers, the audience ducked too, and you understand the privilege of watching this early footage.
There are flashes of candid brilliance when people who know him talk about him. Shane Warne being invited to Sachin's home for dinner and wondering if dinner after midnight was a ploy to ruin his cricket practice for the next day or just how people ate in India, brings out a guffaw. Also, Kumble's comment on Sachin's celebratory cake cutting on his 35th century makes you want to go out and hug Kumble.
But the rest of it is just cricket footage and more cricket footage. The fans sitting around me were cheering and one realises that the fanboys don't care if his sports achievements gently forced his wife to give up her career as a paediatrician. They only want to see Sachin's centuries, relive matches as if this were a YouTube binge, and clap and whoop until the world cup win. It's like watching someone else's frenzied pilgrimage and someone else's religious ecstasy. Then multiply the pilgrims by a billion. No matter how your logic explains that this is a documentary and not a film, the billion fans chanting his name will drown your logic out.