The spot-fixing controversy at the ongoing T20 tournament has sent shock waves through the country’s cricket circles. On Tuesday, the Mumbai police unravelled the first Bollywood connection to the issue. But betting on sports goes way back, so much so that many movies have explored and exposed this underbelly on the big screen.
Director Milan Luthria’s Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai (2010) as well as its upcoming sequel (to release this year) have dealt with the subject of betting in sports. Luthria says, “Betting is not new, and it happens all around the world. It is coincidental that around the same time when my film’s teaser is supposed to release — which shows the betting scene — such a big incident has happened. My film has just one sequence, so there is no question of changing the trailer.” He adds that even though his previous film had some scenes on betting, it did not form a major portion of the storyline. Producer Ramesh Taurani’s Race 2 also showed betting, but this was on horse races. He says, “Betting does happen, so Bollywood isn’t showing something new. Because it happens in real life, we show it in our movies, and several films have been made on it.”
Race 2 (2013): A scene shows Saif Ali Khan and John Abraham betting on horses. Saif says, "Main paisa ghode par nahi, jockey par lagata hoon (I don't bet on the horse, I bet on the jockey)." In fact, Saif goes on to bribe every other jockey to lose the race to prove a point to John and Deepika Padukone’s characters.
Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai (2010): The movie’s plot deals with the underworld, and a sequence shows some serious betting during a horse race. The mafia kingpin and a young man, who is being pulled into this dark world, are seen discussing the tricks of the trade.
99 (2009): The movie is set in 1999 when fans were shocked by a matching-fixing scandal that saw South African cricket star Hansie Cronje being banned from playing cricket for life. The plot of 99 too revolves around the involvement of small-time bookies, while the main theme remains the match-fixing scandal.
Striker (2010): Defeated by luck, a man loses all his saving and eventually takes to illicit ways of making money. The film set in the ’80s eventually sees actor Siddharth getting pulled into the carom hustling scene.
Lagaan (2001): The movie mainly revolved around a wager between Indian farmers and their British rulers and is set in pre-independent India. However, even as the peasants went about learning to play the game of cricket for a match that could rid them of their taxes for three years, a team member offered to fix the match for the opposition.