A neatly framed autograph of Sachin Tendulkar sits on the wall of my room. Although, a prized possession, I hadn’t managed to look at it in a long time. Today, I look at it with renewed fondness. Probably because watching ‘Sachin: A Billion Dreams’ took me back in time, reminding me of how, as a child, I’d join scores of Indians to cheer for the man, who held the pulse of the nation in his gloved fist. Sachin Tendulkar isn’t just a cricketer, he is an overwhelming emotion.
And, he couldn’t have received a more fitting tribute. As I hooted, clapped, cried and laughed along with others in the cinema hall, I saw my childhood before me.
Decoding the Master Blaster, and his journey of 25 years, requires skill. Director James Erskine does a fine job. In a lucid narration, Tendulkar’s voice dominates the story as Erskine captures the nation’s frenzy for cricket, and this cricketer. How a man, with passion and hard work, became every middle-class Indian’s aspiration is aptly depicted.
Commendably, the filmmaker also puts the spotlight on the controversial events associated with the cricketer’s life, including his tumultuous equation with Mohammad Azharuddin; his unceremonious elimination as captain of the Indian team in 1997, and his much-discussed discomfort under former Australian cricketer Greg Chappell’s mentorship.
You’ll watch this one with a smile on your face, sometimes shedding a tear. Every hallmark of the icon’s life is delicately unveiled on screen. His lesser-known love story, which eventually led to marriage with Anjali Mehta, is a welcome revelation. Mrs Tendulkar’s confession that she had to tell the cricketer’s parents about their desire to tie the knot, because Tendulkar was too shy to do so, had viewers crack up.
Erskine paints a palpable picture of Tendulkar, gently revealing his psyche through the lulls in his life, expressing his excitement when the time was good, and how the cricketer sought solace in music, vada pav and the almighty. His teammates play strong supporting roles as the film climaxes with the momentous 2011 World Cup win, and his stirring retirement speech. What you’ll watch in theatres is not just another movie. It’s India’s biggest success story, that of a curly mopped kid conquering the nation’s heart.