The first teaser of the yet-to-be-released biopic of Sachin Tendulkar – named Sachin Tendulkar: A billion dreams – was brought out in the public domain on 15 April. As would be expected for an iconic cricketer like Sachin Tendulkar, this teaser has garnered significant praise from his peers as well as people such as Shah Rukh Khan and Abhishek Bachchan, who have expressed that they are waiting with baited breath for the work to come out. As of now, the film does not have an official release date as such. However, considering the crores of fans he has, one can expect that as and when the film releases in theatres it will be a highly-successful commercial venture.
Other biopics being made right now
Tendulkar, however, is not the only cricketer on whom a film is in the works right now. The trailer of Azhar, a film on Mohammed Azharuddin with Emraan Hashmi in the lead, has been already released. Similarly, the first teaser of MS Dhoni – The Untold Story – with Sushant Singh Rajput in the lead has also been released on YouTube. These are expected to be releasing soon.
Trend of sports biopics in India
These films are basically a continuation of sports biopics being made of late in Bollywood with some regularity. Paan Singh Tomar, with Irfan Khan in the titular role, basically kicked off the trend. Soon, there were films being made such as Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, starring Farhaan Akhtar, and Mary Kom, with Priyanka Chopra in the lead.
Sports biopics in Hollywood
As would be expected, compared to Hollywood, Bollywood is a relative novice, especially in the art of making sports biopics. Till date, many sports biopics have been made in the US and they have spanned various disciplines. One of the first names that come to mind is Chariots of Fire. It was released in 1981 and told the story of Eric Liddell and Harold Abraham, a couple of British athletes, and their attempt to take part in the 1924 Olympics.
Ali, made in 2001, was on the legendary pugilist Muhammad Ali, and starred Will Smith in the titular role. Another prominent name in this list is Rush. Made in 2013, it dwelled on the rivalry between Niki Lauda and James Hunt. Brad Pitt starred in Moneyball, a 2011 film that centred on the life of Billy Beane. Invictus, starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon in major roles, was made in 2009 and told the story of the South African team in winning the Rugby World Cup of 1995, the first major sporting achievement of the country after it came out of the dreaded period, Apartheid.
Million Dollar Arm
This film was made in 2014 and was about Dinesh Patel and Rinku Singh, two Indians who made it big in Major League Baseball. It shows their meteoric rise from the cricket pitches in India to the sporting glory that they achieved in the US. In a sense this film is unique as it tells the story of two Indians who made their name in a sport traditionally not played, or even followed, in the country and that too in the best league of the world.
It has normally been seen that a lot of directors like to make biopics for the simple reason that they offer a chance at new content, something that is refreshing for the audience and also much different from the hackneyed stuff they are used to seeing. In most cases, these films are made either on iconic sporting figures, about whose struggle and success people are willing to know and draw inspiration from, or about ordinary athletes whose stories are captivating. In any case, it is a win-win situation for all.