The world is getting set for the Olympics and all eyes are on London this month. Bollywood too has gone beyond our cricket craze, and featured other sports in movies. We look at seven movies that involved an Olympic sport.
Cycling: Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar (1992)
Veer bahadur ladke kaun? Rajput! Rajput! Sanjay Lal Sharma — the perennial last-bencher — rose against this slogan of the elite Rajput College to participate in a cycling race that was won by his school when his father raced. His brother — who looked set to win — was put out of commission by the same Rajputs. In Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar, Aamir Khan played a cyclist who won the race of his life after just two weeks of practice. Did anybody say ‘spoiler alert’? Well, did anybody expect Aamir to lose the race?
Football: Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal (2007)
Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal, starring the super-fit John Abraham, was the story of an Asian team (Southall United) in the English league which made it to the top despite their paunches, John’s shaky nose and Arshad Warsi’s flowing hair. The film was loaded with solid desi jingoism and decent sporting action, supported by super-fit Bipasha Basu as the team physio in spandex.
Hockey: Chak De India (2007)
India’s pride was completely sidelined in Hindi cinema, except for that one shining mass of patriotism, inspiration and girls in sleeveless vests and mini-skirts — Chak De India.
Shah Rukh Khan in Chak De India
The film addresses important issues of women’s careers, politicking in sports bodies and marginalisation of Muslims, but when India defeats Australia in a World Cup final led by Shah Rukh Khan in jeans and aviators, everything else pales in comparison. Finely choreographed sports sequences blended effortlessly with the story and in one stroke, SRK launched the careers of sixteen heroines.
Boxing: Apne (2007)
The boxing plot cupboard in Bollywood seems to be pretty bare, roughly the same as Apne — the Deol family enterprise — in which two sons (Sunny and Bobby) enter the ring to prove their father’s coaching abilities.
Athletics: Paan Singh Tomar (2012)
Tigmanshu Dhulia took many risks with Paan Singh Tomar — a non-hero in the lead, a film shot in a local dialect and a movie that was 2.5 hours long — but they all paid off in the end. Irrfan played the steeplechase champion-turned-dacoit flawlessly and was supported ably by Mahie Gill, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Brijendra Kala. The film was a sleeper hit in a year that saw many big-budget movies sink without a trace.
Ice hockey: Speedy Singhs (2011)
Though it’s an event at the Winter Olympics and India doesn’t even have an official team, Akshay Kumar thought it was a good idea to make a movie about ice hockey.
Speedy Singhs in Breakaway
So last year, we were subjected to Speedy Singhs, a movie starring newcomer Vinay Virmani along with Anupam Kher, Camilla Belle and comedian Russell Peters. A Canadian take on the age-old underdog story, the film revolved around a team of ice hockey players who called themselves, surprise, Speedy Singhs, and ended up winning a tournament. Yawn! Wrestling: Kushti (2010)
The Great Khali, India’s export to the world of professional wrestling, starred in this movie about what else, but wrestling. Sharat Saxena and Om Puri played wrestlers in a small village in north India, who participated in an annual sporting competition. The film saw the village simpleton, Rajpal Yadav, get involved in a kushti contest with Khali to win his lady love’s hand in marriage. A laugh-riot followed.
Compiled with excerpts from ‘Kitnay Aadmi Thay?’ by Diptakirti Chaudhari, and inputs by Sumedha Deo.