Box Office Goal Rush

18 August 2007 The Times Of India by Avijit Ghosh

No chiffon love songs shot in Switzerland, no blazing battles on the mean streets, not even a Rakhi Sawant item number — Chak De! India isn't regular Bollywood at all. 

What it offers is a bunch of feisty women hockey players who sulk, rebel and bitch. And who, when shaken and stirred by a coach in search of redemption, dodge and dribble their way to World Cup glory. It’s what they call a sports flick, Bollywood's latest flavour. 

In 2007, a clutch of such movies has already hit the silver screen. If Chak De! India is about hockey, Apne deals with boxing and Tara Rum Pum is about the life of a racing car driver. Interestingly, the movies that have collapsed — Hat-Trick, Chain Kuli Ki Main Kuli and Say Salaam India — are all strung around cricket, a national passion. 

There's more sporting action coming up later this year, from football ( Goal, Cycle Kick ) and athletics ( Marathon ) to kick-boxing ( Lahore ) and cricket ( Shoonya, Meerabai Not Out ). Bollywood is playing ball like never before. "Sports is an under-exploited genre. And as recent releases show it has plenty of potential," says film distributor Sanjay Mehta. 

It wasn't always like this. In traditional Bollywood, sports was either a silly joke or a sideshow. You could play badminton and croon at the same time — as Jeetendra and Leena Chandravarkar did with rhythmic fluency in Humjoli (1970). Or you could kick football and sing with your elephant friends as Rajesh Khanna did in Haathi Mere Saathi (1971). Examples abound. As a cricketer in Love Marriage (1959), Dev Anand's only contribution is getting bowled over by Mala Sinha. The movie's zany track, She ne khela he se aaj cricket match , is more loveplay than play. In 1981, Rishi Kapoor and Kim play Kabaddi in Naseeb , their waxed legs on full display. 

Then, there were movies like Feroz Khan's Apradh , which started off with a Formula One race, Mithun Chakraborty's Boxer (uninspired by Sylvester Stallone's Rocky ), Dharmendra's boxing flick, Main Intequam Loonga and Kumar Gaurav's All-Rounder (where our white-flannelled hero looks prettier than Rati Agnihotri). Many in the audience had a good laugh watching Dev Anand play BCCI president in Aamir Khan's Awwal Number . There were some watchable movies too (see box on left), but hardly enough to trouble a nursery student's counting skills. 

The plot has changed quite dramatically in recent times. Experts ascribe it to the economic boom that has given rise to a new breed of viewers: cash-rich, young, adventurous. 

There is a demand for different things and an eagerness to embrace the unusual, whether it's a blockbuster like Lagaan (2001), a small-budget sports movie like Iqbal (2005) or an offbeat comedy like Bheja Fry (2007). As Siddharth Roy Kapur of UTV says, "The audience is looking for stories with novelty, either in the idea or in its treatment. Subjects not touched earlier are being made into films today." Sport is just one topic in this search for the innovative. 

There is also a premium on a film's newsworthiness now. Hat-Trick , Say Salaam India , Meerabai Not Out were all produced to coincide with the 2007 one-day World Cup. Meerabai’s release was deferred following India's early exit. Now with the Test series win against England, cricket is back in favour. Says director Chandrakant Kulkarni, "Perhaps the film would be released to coincide with the Twenty20 World Cup in September." 

This article was first published in The Times Of India (18 August 2007).
Original story

All news stories

10 Reasons Why Chak De! India Is A Special Film Arjun Kapoor Slam Dunks Like A Pro-Basketball Player In Half Girlfriend Shraddha Kapoor Learns To Play Basketball For Her Next Shraddha Kapoor and Arjun Kapoor get ‘Chalk De India’ trainer for ‘Half Girlfriend’ ReelSports Roped In For 'Azhar' Training Days Taking Her Talents To India 10 Reasons To Watch Mary Kom : Priyanka Chopra’s Best Top 7 Reasons To Watch Priyanka Chopra’s Mary Kom Lights, Camera, Action… Uppercut FICCI-IIFA Global Business Forum 2014 Winning Ways Priyanka Chopra Starts Training For Biopic On Mary Kom Winning Notes I Learned A Lot On SOTY Star Talk Kajol Is KJo’s Lucky Mascot Creating A Splash In Bollywood! KJo Launches New Talent Bollywood Film Drafts Canadian Runners SPOTTED! Farhan Akhtar as Milkha Singh How were Chak De! India’s hockey scenes so real? Lahore's Hollywood remake Howzzat? Akshay Kumar becomes bowler for 'Patiala House' Preview: Lahore Inside Out: Faces & Places ReelSports, Staged Baseball ReelSports On The Vanguard Of India's Global Ascent The Phoren Hands 53rd Fair One Filmfare Awards AFLers Hit The Big Screen In 'The Game Plan' Going Bollywood? Box Office Goal Rush Helping Stars Make The Right Moves Planells Prepared For Life In Okinawa With Golden Kings AFL Players Are 'Invincible' AFL Athletes Hit The Silver Screen Movie "Stages" Baseball Players ATC's Work Behind The Scenes To Ensure Cast Is Well Trained And Conditioned Tinseltown Touchdown Turning Actors Into Players Fore! The Actor As Athlete Wants To Play Through Sporting News For Filmers: You Gotta Have Solutions Names In The News Making Sports Look 'Reel' Keeping It 'Reel' 'Tree Hill' team nearly ready for filming Court TV