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Why you should watch 'Sachin A Billion Dreams' with your mother

by Gaurav Sethi

When Sachin, the movie, had played out and the credits started to roll, befittingly, ten of us remained in the hall. As the final credits rolled on, a gentle applause from two amongst us, and with that, we left the field of play.
Perhaps the most potent part of the movie was the expression of our love for Sachin, the deafening chants of Sachin-Sachin. At least for me, it tends to have that same impact every time, be it at the Wankhede during his last Test, or during the film, many times over. What then, must it have done to Sachin when he went out to bat?
Sachin has repeatedly acknowledged the power of the chant, and how it will always stay with him - during that last Test which is also shown in the film.
As with the chants, so too with the rest of the film, there's a familiarity, at least for someone who has watched his cricket with an almost voyeuristic eye. The voices are known ones, of those that form part of Sachin's inner circle. There's the added familiarity of that Sachin batting package, be it taking Warne apart, Desert storm or that upper-cut six off Shoaib Akhtar. That's the cricket and a part of Sachin's story, as much as the chants now. Sachin, whether you like it or not, is very familiar to all of us by now.
To expect to see something new then, is turning up for the wrong film. You go for Sachin, because you want the old embrace of the familiar, that it may not move you, is because you may already have moved on, or were never connected.
If however you were connected, and still are, then this movie is for you. Like it was for my mother. Who, after much debate, I asked again, after dissuading her the first time round. She was moved and very thankful for having watched the film.
As we sipped on our smoothies, she continued to talk about the film. I didn't want to be critical and sound like a jaded cricket fan who has moved on, so I feigned writing the opening lines of this piece. She continued to talk about the film on our way back, of Sachin's hard work, how he had done so much, of how Sachin was always her favourite, and the special bond he shared with his father, and the World Cup he had to return from after his death.
When she said there was no other player like him, or never would be one like him, I only found it in me to tap into those chants again - how, more than the runs and records, it was our love for Sachin that made Sachin what he was and is, why no other player evoked the same love.
That Sachin knows this and acknowledges this repeatedly in the film, is his way of saying thanks. The film, in its own disjointed way, is Sachin's shy attempt at thanking us all - be it his father, first and foremost, possibly the most pivotal person in the film, his family, friends, and us fans.
What was refreshing, was the many appearances of the exiled Vinod Kambli at pivotal points in the film - the world record partnership clipping, at Sachin's wedding, the carnage in Calcutta's 1996 World Cup semis, amongst others. There's almost a shy acknowledgment of thanks there, one that was missing during Sachin's farewell speech.
At various parts of the film, it's as if a bearded, long-haired, skinnier version of Sachin is speaking - it's his elder brother, friend, confidante and mentor, Ajit Tendulkar. There's a similar shyness as Sachin's. In the film, Sachin speaks of their close bond, and how brother, Ajit, is one of the key factors behind what makes Sachin the cricketer tick.
Extensive thanks to wife, Anjali, at various parts of the film. Very early in the film though, Sachin acknowledges his mother's workaholic ways. There in an almost by the way stray comment, Sachin acknowledges the seeds for Sachin the machine, Sachin the batting workhorse, Sachin the world record breaker.
So while Sachin continues to acknowledge his father, a poet and author, for instilling humility, and qualities that make him a better human being, his mother is almost an onlooker, but very much the doer in Sachin's early life, working long hours.
Throughout the film there are old home videos thrown in, a peek into the Tendulkars, light family moments, horsing around with the kids, births and birthdays, nets and training with son, Arjun, elaborate prayer ceremonies during an injury, hanging with buddies in Goa, and his obsessive connect with certain songs, be it Dire Straits' or Bappi Lahiri's. Another acknowledgment of how he thrives on repetition, hitting 140 balls in the nets when the physio prescribed 40.
Making and sharing this film, is a definitive way to bookend his cricket career. And in his own way, saying thank you to all of us. If anything, the film is true to Sachin's personality as we've come to know him - shy, measured, and almost correct to a fault.
Yes, you can watch it with your mother too. And if you want to get into the mood, keep an empty bottle handy, it'll go well with the chants, SACHIN! SACHIN! Which according to Sachin was a chant his mother started. 

First published here

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