What is sport, but a different kind of theater – 2 opposite, yet, movies, a look at the game’s similar worlds

A biopic on India’s only double badminton Olympic medalist PV Sindhu is in the works. Aggressive on the court, smiling for a lifetime, the tall and slender shuttler is a champion of the highest order. The actor who steps in in Sindhu’s place will realize that emulating a sports artist is much more difficult than imagined.

Deepika Padukone, daughter of world number one and veteran Prakash Padukone, is being roped in to play the lead role. Players and actors are friends of badminton, the times ahead are so exciting.

Sports is a different kind of theatre, in sports, drama keeps people engaged. The two worlds are opposite in some ways, yet the similarities in the games and in the movies are striking. The cast and performance keep the interest alive, the audience drawn to the visual effects. There is a script in place, yet the artist is allowed a license to explore. The film industry has long been fascinated by unparalleled achievers in the sport.

Cameras have followed artists with special qualities, trying to understand the reasons for the fan following bordering on frenzy.

From Ranveer Singh’s ’83, Shahid Kapoor’s Jersey to Taapsee Pannu’s Rashmi Rocket: Upcoming Bollywood Sports Films

Athletes at the peak of physical, mental abilities became the story. The performances ranged from incredible and imaginative, at times unbelievable, to mostly inspiring. News makers from different sports generations opened a window into his life.

Sindhu is the second active artist in the news for a biopic. MS Dhoni, currently leading CSK in IPL 2021, is an enigmatic character with a film on his life when he is still competing at the international level.

Sushant Singh Rajput got the role of India’s captain in MS Dhoni: The Untold Story. Five years after the release of the biopic, the player took wickets in the 2019 World Cup. The script for the sequel is taking shape, he is India’s mentor for the 2021 T20 World Cup.

The film industry in India drew inspiration from theatrical events, crafting films like Gold, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Mary Kom, Soorma and Saina to name a few. Real-life events told the story, various themes were used and presented as a package of action, emotion, entertainment and history-making. Large production houses stepped into the ring, investing in researching the player and recreating the scenes.

Grandparents grew up reading about the adventures of Balbir Singh Sr in Hockey, Milkha Singh in Track and Field, the younger generation came to know about these legends through moving pictures when Gold, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag was released . His real-life events in black and white, mainly on the Olympic stage, turned into multi-colors on the big screen. Both the lions gained fame when the biopics were shown.

The biopic on world champion boxer Mary Kom, hockey drag-flicker Sandeep Singh (Soorma), shuttler Sania Nehwal (Sania), wrestler Geeta Phogat, Babita Kumari (Dangal) made the new audience aware of the joy and sacrifice in the sport. Legends of the past with unique stories, current sensations with well-documented careers could be potential film scripts in the future. Viewers can get the thirst for perfection of sharpshooter Abhinav Bindra.

PT Usha’s foray into Asian athletic history in Jakarta, the 1984 LA Olympics 400m hurdles, and the ongoing Academy’s work has its ups and downs to pique audience interest. A film is being planned on hockey maestro Dhyan Chand. Curious Adolf Hitler watching his wand work from his VIP box at the 1936 Berlin Olympics would be a visual treat. Indian hockey achievers have so many unique stories to tell, a hockey film festival is possible.

Films written around sporting events gained acceptance. Chak De India, for example, focuses on a women’s hockey coach trying to redeem herself in her own eyes and in society. The parallel in real life is former India goalkeeper Mir Ranjan Negi from the 1982 Asian Games squad, who later rejoined the sport as one of the national team’s coaches.

Toofan attempts to express the struggles in the life of a boxer, with Iqbal meditating on the cricketing aspirations of a child.

Sultan, Saand Ki Aakh films, weaved wrestling and shooting respectively into the story. Famous faces ready to face the camera got a chance. Character actors came into limelight.

Sunny Kaushal (selected for the character based on hockey centre-forward Balbir Singh from the 1948 London Olympic squad), Farhan Akhtar (the muscle and subtlety he gained for playing Milkha Singh) slipped into their roles, also starred in Toofan .

Priyanka Chopra worked to develop Mary Kom’s chiseled physique.

Two other biopics based on life events of Sania Nehwal (played by Parineeti Chopra) and Sandeep Singh (Diljit Dosanjh) provided unique insights. Irrfan Khan’s role as an athlete-cum-soldier-turned-outlaw in Paan Singh Tomar won him the National Film Awards for Best Actor and Best Feature Film.

The box-office hit Dangal was based on the hurdles faced by Haryana wrestling coach Mahavir Singh Phogat in training daughters in wrestling. India’s first wrestling medalist in women’s freestyle, Geeta Phogat (2010 Commonwealth Games), is the central character of fellow international Babita Kumari, who is also a Commonwealth medalist in 2014. Producer-actor Aamir Khan played the role of Coach Phogat, the songs of the film were as popular as Chak De Tunes.

Famous sportspersons finding their feet in films is another trend, as directors have tapped into their celebrity status. Sunil Gavaskar, Sandeep Patil, Syed Kirmani (1983 World Cup teammates) appeared on the big screen. Gavaskar, Patil played the protagonists in Savali Premachi (Marathi film), Kabhi Ajnabee The (Hindi) respectively.

Kirmani was once part of the cast for Ajnabee The, also played roles in the films Deadly-2 (Kannada), Majhavillinattam Vere (Malayalam).

Tennis ace Vijay Amritraj was roped in for the James Bond film, Octopussy, with Roger Moore in the star role and playing the MI6 collaborator from India, named Vijay. Olympic tennis medalist and doubles specialist Leander Paes played a man running away from a gun-wielding godfather in the Rajdhani Express. India’s captain and the ace of football, IM Vijayan further enhanced the surprising element by exploring acting after retirement.

The goal-scoring machine accepted dark roles, beginning his entry with Shantam (Silence in Malayalam). A film about political violence, Shantam won the Best Feature Film award at the 48th National Film Awards in 2001. Vijayan appeared in unusual roles in Malayalam and Tamil films, his latest appearance being about the Kurumba tribe engaged in beekeeping. Named Mammam (The Voice of Pain), the 2021 film saw the striker, nicknamed Kalohrin (the black buck) as an on-screen presence, on game days by football-crazy football fans in Kolkata.

A film worth the wait is 83, based on India’s first ICC World Cup win under the leadership of Kapi Dev, played by Ranveer Singh. Players of the 1983 team became household names – from tramp opener Krishnamachari Srikkanth, sluggish all-rounder Mohinder Amarnath to Balwinder Singh Sandhu, who has been called the lord of swing by betraying West Indies opener Gordon Greenidge in the final.

The pandemic delayed the release of the cricket film, slated to release by the end of this year. As the sporting world emerges from the shadow of Corona, overcoming travel restrictions, performing in huge empty stadiums, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, new Indian faces emerge. Reality shows were the first to close, with medalists telling their own unique tales. Films can run on the basis of discussion across the country.

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