Cricket, the most popular sport in the country seems to have taken a backseat in films. There are other games that are making their presence felt on the big screen lately.
Mithun Chakraborty's Boxer was a huge hit and the game comes back into focus in Anil Sharma's Apne, which has Deol brothers Sunny and Bobby and their father Dharmendra.
That Abhishek Kapoor's Aryan, which toplined Sohail Khan as a boxer, did not quite work, has not been a deterrent. Sharma says his film is all about courage and "that's why I thought of boxing".
<b1>Another individual sport that has come into focus is car racing. Perhaps the success of Narain Karthikeyan has something to do with it. Raaste, with Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai has car racing in the backdrop. Similarly, Siddharth Anand's Ta Ra Rum Pum had Saif Ali Khan playing a car racer.
Says Anand, "I needed a sport that had aggression and created fear in the minds of people and what better than motor racing?" Having the hero as a sportsperson rather than a team player also makes it easier for the filmmaker to focus on him. Team sports work at times, not necessarily cricket.
Filmmakers have a simple explanation for the focus on other sports.. nothing to do with the Indian side's dismal performance at the World Cup. Most filmmakers use sport to convey the message of sportsmanship, winning, losing and the rise of the underdog.
Cricket has worked in the past. Ashutosh Gowarikar's Lagaan for instance demonstrated team spirit. And Nagesh Kukunoor's Iqbal showed how disability could be overcome.
However, not all cricket movies have been successful on screen. The list of flops includes Awaal Number, All Rounder and more recently Say Salaam India and Hattrick.
Abhishek Kapoor puts it succinctly, "Cricket is a long-drawn process. It's not a sport but a game. The dynamics are different."
Other team games include football and hockey both of which are in focus. Shimit Amin's Chak De India has Shah Rukh Khan playing a hockey coach. Vivek Agnihotri's Goal, toplining John Abraham and Arshad Warsi is on soccer.
Directors looking to market their films outside the country certainly have reason to choose other sports. The craze for cricket is still confined to a few countries only .
Which is probably why Karan Johar had Shah Rukh Khan playing soccer in New York in Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna and Siddharth Anand had Saif Ali Khan whizzing around the tracks in the same city in Ta Ra Rum Pum.
In the age of simultaneous worldwide releases, it goes without saying that universal subjects and sports will be given more importance. It shouldn't surprise anyone that life and films exist beyond cricket.
Khel Khel mein
Boxer(1984): With Danny, Tanuja and Rati Agnihotri in the cast, it captured revenge of a son whose father lost out due to boxing.
Hip Hip Hurray(1984): This movie dealt with college discipline with soccer in the backdrop.
Saheb(1985): This film was about a talented footballer who sacrifices his game for his family.
Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander(1992): A college film, the movie starring Aamir Khan in the lead, had cycle racing in the backdrop.
My Brother Nikhil(2005): Though AIDS was the main subject, the protagonist, Sanjay Suri, was a swimmer.