Masala Bay

Updated on Mar 11, 2007 05:24 PM IST
Cricket is a national obsession in Barbados, so it made sense to Alison Saunders-Franklyn, who was highly inspired by Lagaan, to make a movie about it.
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Cricket,a love triangle, a son out to prove himself, an angry father and a sprinkling of songs - sounds like the plot of a Bollywood movie, right? Wrong!

This is the masala that Hit For Six, the first cricket movie to be made in the Caribbean, promises to have.

As in India, cricket is a national obsession in Barbados. Just like Indian kids play cricket in the alleyways and roads of towns and cities, youngsters in Barbados can be spotted playing cricket on the island's perfect beaches and green cricket grounds with great enthusiasm.

So what inspired Alison Saunders-Franklyn, writer-director of Hit For Six, to come up with the idea of such a movie? "I realised that the Caribbean has such a rich cricket culture, but never had a Caribbean cricket movie," she said at the reopening of the renovated Kensington Oval in Barbados one sunny afternoon. "I wanted to do something for cricket. The idea was mine."

It helped that she had worked as a PR consultant with the West Indies Cricket Board for six years during which time she regularly interacted with players. That was when when she got acquainted with the psychology of cricket and its attendant pressures. Her stint with the WICB also helped her develop "a good understanding of many of the issues, the game, its history and culture".

Inspiration came from Bollywood too. "I was thrilled and inspired by Lagaan which is a classic film that I enjoyed immensely Since Lagaan is about much more than cricket, it gave me the confidence to pursue a 'bigger' story," she says.

She has also seen Iqbal, which she caught while on a plane to India last year "I had already written the script by then, but my heart was warmed by this touching yet simple personal story I was encouraged by the fact that it has been very popular."

Hit For Six is an emotional drama that draws on the cricket history of the West Indies. It tells the fictional story of a West Indian cricketel: Alex Nelson, the son of a West Indies cricket icon, who has been sidelined for scuffling with his Indian coach and is seeking a comeback to the West Indies team for a major tournament.

The son is also bitter about his relationship with his father and the tension between father and son serves to illustrate the underlying theme of a clash between West Indian cricket culture from its "glory days" to what presently exists.

"The movie is a passionate drama filled with nostalgia, excitement, love, disappointment and real cricketing action," says Saunders-Franklyn, who spent two years writing the script for this movie.

Barbadian actor Andrew Pilgrim plays Nelson while British-based Trinidadian actor Rudolph Walker, who is a popular star of the British soap Eastenders, plays his father Nirmal Thani, an actor from Barbados whose parents are from India, plays the Indian coach. "He is a former radio DJ and very handsome. I am sure he will acquire some fans in India!" says Saunders-Franklyn.

Incidentally, the colourful and noisy crowds who converged for the reopening of the Kensington Oval the location of the Cricket World Cup Super Eight matches and the April 28 final will be featured in the final scene of Hit For Six.

If cricket is an obsession in both Barbados and India, it's probably because of the fact of the two countries' colonial past. "Cricket means more to us both, I believe, than just a game. Lagaan suggested to me that you probably share a similar history of countering colonial domination with prowess on the cricket field."

The film was shot in Trinidad and Barbados. West Indian cricket legends like Desmond Haynes, Gordon Greenidge, Joel Garner and Rev Wes Hall will appear in the film as will cricket commentators Tony Cozier, Fazeer Mohammad and Andrew Mason. "They all make cameo appearances," says Saunders-Franklyn.

But the movie is not just about cricket. Just as movies without music are hard to come by in India, it is difficult to think of cricket without music in the Caribbean. In that respect, Hit For Six will not disappoint.

"We Caribbean people bring our music into just about anything we do, especially cricket. However, the dance you will see is not choreographed, as they would be in a Bollywood movie," she says.

The film is aimed at all cricket playing nations. The director is very keen that the movie be released in India, but there is nothing finalised as yet.

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