Sometimes in life, you get lucky.
Like the many times Cricket Australia have denied my media accreditation, meaning that I don’t have to watch games in the soulless morgue that is the press box. Or when Chris Cairns and Wasim Akram threatened to sue me, but then didn’t bother after realising my total net worth is about $14.57.
Anyhow, this week, the production company behind the new Sachin movie flew me to Mumbai for a sneak preview of what has to be the most hyped piece of cinematography since Sharknado II.
I’m usually not one to watch poorly made documentaries about a cricketer’s life. The Dhoni biopic was about as accurate as Ben Stokes bowling in a World T20 Final. The Azhuraddin life story told more lies than Donald Trump at a media conference.
Therefore, I held little hope for Sachin’s version and it didn’t disappoint.
Before we start, let me teach you a little about the movie business.
Sometimes, the makers of a movie will set it up to be owned by a shelf company. These shelf companies are make-believe entities and are only used when the creators reckon the movie could flop. The make-believe company in this case, “200 Not Out”, is a typical two dollar shelf company that takes the hit rather than the people behind it when it fails, leaving the mum and dad creditors and investors broke rather than the people that made it.
Ethically, I find this kind of behaviour in the movie industry unsaviourary, but it does give insight into Sachin and his moral code. The fact that the company was named “200 Not Out” means that Jason Gillespie can probably use it in the future when his movie is released.
Ricky Ponting, Sehwag, Chris Gayle and others will probably band together to form “300 Not Out”.
I think Sachin knew that he could be sitting on a lemon when the movie’s slogan arrived:
55 Days of Training
One Pair of Trousers
A Billion Dreams
I didn’t make that up. But someone did. And they chose to print it and distribute millions of posters with it written boldly across them.
Perhaps this was meant to be a comedy or am I missing something? Do Indians routinely dream about sweaty unwashed trousers? A billion dreams about this though? Surely not.
I arrived in Mumbai and was ushered to the Eros Cinema complex. In my hometown of Melbourne, Eros cinemas usually only show porn, so my hopes of witnessing a depiction of Sachin working the Delhi groupie scene grew enormously.
Unfortunately, this was not to be the case. Instead, I was introduced to director James Erskine. A man whose claim to fame was to run a division of IMG, which is a sports management house. The perfect pedigree to writing and making a Bollywood movie. Well, at least according to someone.
The actual movie itself got its name after a random dude suggested the title on Twitter. No expense spared here, and this theme carries on throughout the hours of meandering story telling.
Cliche scenes, bad lighting, over acting and some really cheesy scripting make this the exact sort of entertainment that Indians love and I jump off bridges for.
There are however some notable moments and quotes.
For example, there’s the modest self comparisons to greats of the game:
Brian Lara says I’m the best of all time. I don’t think he goes nearly far enough
Sir Donald Bradman said I was the batsman most like him. I didn’t realise he was ever caught ball tampering.
There’s the part where Sachin discusses his parliamentary acheivements:
I’m a Member of Parliament now. I’ve never been. What’s it like? Do you get free cake?
There’s his discussions about legal matters:
Why should I have to pay tax on importing a car?
The best bit about Monkey Gate is that I lied to a NZ High Court judge and got away with it.
The best way to defend your honour when caught doing something wrong is to play the racism card.
The scene where Sachin reflects on his final Test will make even the most hardened man cry:
Wrecking South Africa’s summer by cutting the Test Series short so I could play my 200th Test in Mumbai was everything I dreamed it would be.
Towards the end of the movie, Sachin reflects on his achievements and playing career:
I didn’t score a Test hundred in my last three calendar years of cricket. Neither did Zaheer Khan. Who says I went on selfishly too long?
I got out 27 times in the 90’s not because I felt the pressure, but because I felt the pressure.
I was Man of the Match in only 7% of the Tests that I played in. Clearly that makes me a world class match winner.
The most exciting part of the whole experience was not standing or singing during the national anthem before the screening, just to see if I could get myself arrested. That would have saved me from having to watch this absurdity.
In summary, the Sachin movie is much like his last book, but without the story of him stealing lettuce from a buffet. This in itself is a crying shame, as the lettuce story was the most interesting part of the novel.
Close your eyes and think of any cricket scene from any Bollywood movie you have seen previously. Now put Sachin into that scene. Then add a little bit of Tony Greig commentary and a retrospective period of self reflection by the main character.
There you go. You have just watched the Sachin movie.
This is the kind of movie you send your enemies to see when you have run out of ideas on how to torture them. It’s also a great lesson as to why sports management professionals and Bollywood shouldn’t make anything creative. It’s like a high school media project that goes on for too long, moves too slowly and lacks any element of surprise, suspense or originality.
If you really want to see a bloke using a cricket bat on the big screen, more entertaining options include any movie ever made where a bloke uses a cricket bat.
Wasn’t there one in Lagaan?