On His Birthday, Here Are 5 Facts Azharuddin’s Biopic Got Wrong
The Quint takes a look at five facts that the movie ‘Azhar’ got wrong.
When the producers of the film ‘Azhar’ announced that they would be making a biopic on the controversial cricketer Mohammad Azharuddin, it set the entire country abuzz.
The announcement led to a lot of questions popping up in our minds. Are we finally going to get to know the truth? Did Azhar really fix matches? Were the likes of Ajay Jadeja and Kapil Dev involved?
But, as usual, Bollywood disappointed us yet again.
Azhar begins with a five-point disclaimer saying the film is based on a few true events from Azharuddin’s life but most of the story is fictional.
The movie strictly adheres to the disclaimer. But, the film mixes actual events from Azharuddin’s life with fictional stories in the quest to prove his innocence.
Here’s a look at the five facts the movie Azhar got wrong.
1. West Zone vs South Zone
In the film, Azhar, who is played by Emraan Hashmi, gets to know moments before the South Zone vs West Zone match that his maternal grandfather had passed away. Since, the Indian selectors were watching the match, Azhar didn’t go back home and went out to bat for South Zone and played a brilliant innings. A character in the movie, Ravi (supposedly Ravi Shastri) supports Azhar’s decision.
The same incidents actually took place but it didn’t happen before the South Zone vs West Zone match but it happened ahead of the tour game between India Under-25s v England XI match in 1984.
Ravi Shastri was the captain of the India Under-25s side and it was him who asked Azharuddin to play the match instead of going back home.
2. Bookie Confesses Before Hansie Cronje
Azhar gets to know he is accused of match-fixing in the film by the officials of the Indian cricket association. The officials tell him a bookie named MK Sharma confessed about him taking money to fix matches.
Actually, Azharuddin was first accused of match-fixing by the former South African captain Hansie Cronje and then was named by the bookie MK Gupta whose name has been changed to MK Sharma in the film.
3. Azhar Receives Rs One Crore From Bookie
Azhar receives an amount of Rs one crore from the bookie MK Sharma in the movie to fix a match against Sri Lanka.
However, the actual CBI report regarding the match-fixing scandal in 2000 says, the bookie MK Gupta said that he gave Rs 50 lakh to Azhar as advance when he met him for the first time.
Azharuddin’s statement in the report said that MK Gupta had offered Rs 1.25 crore to him but the deal did not take place.
4. Wrong Decision Against South Africa
According to reports, Azharuddin had confessed that he fixed three ODIs – the first against South Africa in the Titan Cup tournament in 1996, then against Sri Lanka in the Pepsi Asia Cup tournament in 1997 and Pakistan in the Pepsi Cup in 1999.
The movie accurately shows the media accusing Azhar of fixing matches against the same opponents.
The film conveniently forgets the Pakistan game. But, when it comes to the South Africa game, the movie tries to prove Azhar’s innocence.
Azhar is given wrongly out in the film on a low score by the umpire when a South African bowler appeals for LBW. And the fans cause a huge ruckus since he was wrongly given out.
But, actually, the same incident happened against Australia and not South Africa in the 1996 Titan Cup. Azharuddin was wrongly given out when Jason Gillespie appealed for LBW and then the crowd created a big ruckus.
The film tries to prove Azhar’s innocence with an incident that happened in some other match.
5. The 1998 Sri Lanka Match
The film shows that Azhar takes Rs one crore from the bookie MK Sharma and agrees to fix a match against Sri Lanka in 1998, which was played in London.
But then he turns his back on the bookie and plays a spectacular innings to take India to victory and returns the money.
This match between India and Sri Lanka took place actually, but not in London, it was played in Sharjah. Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly were dismissed early and India were tottering at 13/2 while chasing Sri Lanka’s score of 245/7. Then Nayan Mongia and Azharuddin strung a partnership of 104 runs which helped India win by three wickets. The then Indian captain, Azharuddin scored 94 runs.
However, the movie also uses this match to bat for Azharuddin’s cause. But he was accused of fixing a match against Sri Lanka in the Pepsi Asia Cup in 1997. In that tournament, India lost by six and eight wickets respectively in the two matches against Sri Lanka.
Again, the film went away from the match Azharuddin was accused of fixing and tries to prove his innocence with an incident that happened in another match.
(This article is being reposted from The Quint’s archives on the occasion of Mohammad Azharuddin’s 54th birthday. It was originally published on 16 May 2016 when his biopic starring Emraan Hashmi released.)
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