The Common Man Speaks

28May/171

Review: Sachin – A Billion Dreams

Documentaries are considered boring by the masses, at least in India. But Brahmanand S Siingh’s Pancham Unmixed, a documentary on the legendary music composer R D Burman, proved that even documentaries can be entertaining. Sachin – A Billion Dreams is the latest film in the genre to make us think this way.

Directed by James Erskine, the film tells the journey of India’s legendary cricketer, Sachin Tendulkar. Not many would know that he was a mischievous kid. But there was this purity and passion in him that stood out. Sachin was 10 years old when India won the 1983 World Cup. This was the incident that made him realize his dream of winning the World Cup for India.

Sachin took cricket seriously at the age of 11 when he started learning under coach Ramakant Acharekar. It was his elder brother Ajit who saw the potential in him and took him to Acharekar. His international career starts off as a 16-year-old youngster in November 1989 and ends 24 years later in November 2013. He retires with the satisfaction of having won the World Cup for India in 2011.

It is refreshing to see a documentary giving high importance to storytelling. The writers (Erskine and Sivakumar Ananth) have followed a feature film-like technique when it comes to adding drama and emotions. Some important events from Sachin’s life have stood out well. The incidents like his debut match, father’s demise, 2011 World Cup victory and the retirement speech deserve special mention. These moments don’t make us feel as if we are watching a documentary.

However, having witnessed Sachin’s career from close quarters, it is puzzling why these important milestones were kept away:

- The first test century holds a high place for any batsman. But Sachin’s first test hundred against England at Manchester in 1990 (also the first of his life) is not celebrated in the film like his other achievements. It was a heroic effort by the then 17-year-old to save the match for his team and remain unbeaten at 119.

- His first one-day international century (110 against Australia at Colombo, Sri Lanka in 1994) also finds no place. Sachin is known the most for his centuries in ODIs. So, what was the reason for not including his first hundred in this format?

- One of the most celebrated moments in Sachin’s career was when he won the match against South Africa in the Hero Cup as a bowler. The opposition team needed just six runs from the last over. Sachin surprised everyone by volunteering to bowl and saw India home in one of the most incredible victories at the Eden Gardens.

But the biggest downfall of Sachin – A Billion Dreams is that it hardly shows things that are not known to his fans. Those who have been following him since his early days would already know almost everything that the film features. And in today’s digital age, you can find hundreds of his interviews on the internet where he has spoken about his life.

I also wonder why Sachin and it makers have refrained from mentioning that the film is a documentary in the various promotional events. They have always maintained that it's either a film or movie.

Overall: Sachin – A Billion Dreams is an entertaining celebration of the Master Blaster. However, it is meant only for his die-hard fans.

Rating: 3/5

Review by: Keyur Seta

Director: James Erskine

Producers: 200 Not Out Productions and Carnival Motion Pictures

Writers: James Erskine and Sivakumar Ananth

20May/170

Hindi Medium Review

As part of my profession, before the release of Hindi Medium, I had spoken to Irrfan Khan in a group interview (read it here). While answering a question, he had said that the film can be adapted in any language. Today, after watching it, I can vouch that he hadn’t said it just to promote the film.

Hindi Medium basically takes a satirical dig at the idea of looking down upon your own language (be it any) while succumbing to the pressure of English. And this is very much relevant today when the knowledge of English is equated with intelligence.

The story takes place in Chandni Chowk, Delhi. Raj Batra (Irrfan Khan) is a successful garment businessman living a comfortable lifestyle with his wife (Saba Qamar) and little daughter (Dishita Sehgal). Raj doesn’t know English and he has no problems with it. His wife, however, is his opposite.

Hindi Medium posterShe doesn’t like his desi manners and is eager to see her family move to the elite class. She feels it is necessary for their daughter to get admitted in a school where children from the wealthy class study. The conflict between Raj and his wife increase when Raj’s lack of education and English knowledge becomes a hindrance for their daughter’s admission in a high quality school.

Hindi Medium is a thoroughly entertaining fare with sensible and realistic humour. Due to a fast screenplay and witty dialogues, you don’t realize when the 133 minutes pass off. The film, however, isn’t limited to this. It has quite a few layers.

Hindi Medium basically stands out for the following messages it smartly weaves in an entertaining manner (without being preachy):

- The use of English is important in today’s times to succeed but not at the cost of your own language. Moreover, you shouldn’t be ashamed speaking in your language just to prove your ‘high status.’

- Although the film doesn’t say it directly, it shows the mirror to these so-called international schools that charge a bomb in order to develop your kid in a special way. In other words, education has been transformed into a shoddy business.

- We tend to look at the poor class of people as potential criminals. The film tries to bridge the class gap without any melodrama.

- The movie isn’t flawless though. There are flaws in the form of quite a few cinematic liberties, more so in the climax (describing them would lead to spoilers).

The high quality content wouldn’t have become so appealing without the presence of Irrfan Khan. He gives us another proof as to why he is not only one of the finest artists but also someone who can easily make you laugh. Hindi Medium is another feather in his cap.

Saba Qamar matches up to him and this only means that she knows the art of acting. Let’s hope we get to see more of her. Deepak Dobriyal is present only in one half but he puts behind a resounding impact. He is indeed a brilliant actor. As the school Principal, Amrita Singh is powerful too. Dishita Sehgal is cute and talented but doesn’t get to speak much.

Overall: Hindi Medium puts forward an important message in a hilarious way. The film hasn’t opened very well at the box office. But it surely stands a chance due to positive word-of-mouth.

Rating: 3.5/5

Review by: Keyur Seta

Director: Saket Chaudhary

Writers: Zeenat Lakhani and Saket Chaudhary

Producers: T-Series and Maddock Films

Cast: Irrfan Khan, Saba Qamar, Dishita Sehgal, Deepak Dobriyal, Amrita Singh

Music: Sachin-Jigar

Runtime: 133 minutes

8May/170

RUMOUR ALERT! ISIS members spreading AIDS through injections

ISIS members are spreading AIDS through injection syringes by posing as someone willing to check your blood sugar levels for free. This is the latest What’s App forward message that has gone viral.

Picture: Iconexperience.com

This is what the message reads: Urgent Urgent Please reach to catch them quickly if you have people on your door and they say they are from the Faculty of Medicine so that we measure your sugars for free. as soon as you see such lady or man please immidiately inform the police because these are the people fromISIS (????) who go to the houses and r spreading AIDS virus by injections which look like insulin. please catch such people as soon as they reach you Inform and share this message with all your loved one. (forwarded as received )

Is the news true?

It just can’t be true. This is simply because there is not a single news report about any such incident anywhere on the internet. It is common sense that even if one such incident would have happened, it would have been Breaking News everywhere. It is impossible that a news reaches What’s App but doesn’t reach a single publication (print and online) or a news channel.

It is wise to check Google before forwarding any such messages.

By: Keyur Seta