From ‘Lagaan’ to ‘Kai Po Che’, Bollywood Films for Cricket Fans

Which one is at the top of your watch-list?

4 min read
From ‘Lagaan’ to ‘Kai Po Che’, Bollywood Films for Cricket Fans

Bollywood and cricket form a large part of our popular culture in India, and we’re quite obsessed with both. Movies over the years have reflected our love for cricket, but it’s been a case of hit and miss. When stories have revolved around cricketers they've not really given us an insight into their lives (remember Emraan Hashmi’s Azhar, Sushant Singh Rajput’s MS Dhoni? ), by that I mean the good, bad and ugly-everything. Which is why when films or even a web series like Netflix’s Selection Day use cricket as an interesting backdrop to a larger narrative, it’s a more engaging story.

Here are some films that have cleverly integrated cricket into stories of personal triumph, familial problems, communal tensions and identity issues:


1. Iqbal

Naseeruddin Shah and Shreyas Talpade in a scene from Iqbal.
(Photo courtesy: (Mukta Films)

Iqbal is the story of a deaf and mute boy played by Shreyas Talpade who has a burning passion to become a cricketer. He is discouraged by his father who wants him to become a farmer like him. He is then trained by a once great cricketer (Naseeruddin Shah) who has now turned into an alcoholic. The film was Shreyas’s debut and was sensitively directed by Nagesh Kukunoor. Naseeruddin Shah went onto win the National Award for Best Supporting Actor, while Nagesh won the National Award for Best Film on social issues.

2. Lagaan

The cast of Lagaan.
(Photo courtesy: Aamir Khan Films)

Now possibly one of Bollywood’s most iconic films, Ashutosh Gowariker’s directorial debut had been rejected by several actors because, well who would be interested in a story about cricket and tax? Set in pre-Independence India, the film follows a group of villagers who decided to teach themselves to play cricket in order to win a match against the British and escape the taxes levied by them on their province.

Even though it’s been 18 years since Lagaan released, the nail-biting match between the Britishers and the Indians is still just as thrilling and that moment when Aamir and team win still makes one jump with joy.


3. Ferrari Ki Sawaari

Sharman Joshi and Boman Irani in Ferrari Ki Sawaari.
(Photo courtesy: Vinod Chopra Films)

The Sharman Joshi-Boman Irani starrer is a story of a simple family who try to fulfil the dreams of their youngest member with limited means. Rusy (Joshi), conspires to steal Sachin Tendulkar’s Ferrari in order to pay for his son to attended an expensive cricket camp. The film is a classic underdog story, but also reveals the bitter side of the sport –the lobbying and what happens to those who don’t make it.

4. Kai Po Che

Sushant Singh Rajput, Rajkummar Rao and Amit Sadh in Kai Po Che.
(Photo courtesy: UTV Motion Pictures)

Abhishek Kapoor’s film is about three friends – Ishaan, Govind and Omkar – who open a sports academy to train budding cricketers. Sushant Singh Rajput plays Ishaan, a district-level cricketer who finds it difficult to break into the cricketing circuit because of the politics of the selection committee. Cricket is only one of the tracks in the film, with a major focus being on the socio-political scenario of Gujarat because of the 2001 earthquake and the Godhra riots of 2002. It’s also a story of brotherhood and friendship, and that’s what elevates it from being just another movie about cricket.


5. Patiala House

Akshay Kumar in a still from Patiala House.
(Photo courtesy: T-Series)

In this Nikhil Advani directorial, Rishi Kapoor is a massive cricket fan and stern patriarch who is opposed to the idea of his son, essayed by Akshay Kumar, playing for the England cricket team. It’s sappy for a large part of its run time, with some massive emotional breakdowns like this one scene where Rishi Kapoor’s character says, “If you you play for England I will commit suicide.”

But for a change you see Akshay Kumar as this sombre, introverted guy who quietly and steadily rebels against his father. It has the standard Nikhil Advani tropes of the large family gathering and the peppy songs, but also taps into a man’s extreme passion for cricket. It doesn't matter who you play for, you do it for the love of the game.

6. Chamatkar

Naseeruddin Shah plays a ghost in the film, which also stars Shah Rukh Khan.
(Photo courtesy: Netflix)

The Shah Rukh Khan-Naseeruddin Shah starrer is a comedy, where SRK plays Sunder a young graduate who happens to meet a friendly ghost Marco played by Shah. Sunder is cheated by his friend, and his helped by Marco. Marco on the other hand wants to take revenge against the man who killed him. The film is remembered for its humour, funny, especially a hilarious scene involving a cricket match where Marco takes advantage of being invisible and sabotages the game of Sunder’s opponent.

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Topics:  Aamir Khan   Shah Rukh Khan   Lagaan 

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