Cinema has been the one binding force that possesses the power to unite nations through the guise of entertainment. It holds the string to weave stories and urge emotions and stir in us the latent passion we all possess for sports. Over the past decade, Indian cinema has shrugged off its cape of focussing on cricket and donned that of other, lesser-known sports. The driving force in the cinema of the past decade when it came to sports-centric movies has largely been athlete-driven with biographies and historically relevant sporting achievements being the order of the last ten years.
Sports movies, inevitably find a way to inspire and motivate us and knits together people through the common thread of the love for sports. While there have been many spectacular movies, The Bridge takes a look at the ten movies that have made a mark for themselves and helped in their own little way to transform and give a more holistic view of the sporting ecosystem of our nation. The numbering, however, is not given according to the rankings.
#10 Egaro: The Immortal Eleven (Bengali, 2011, directed by Arun Roy)
Director Arun Roy embarks on an ambitious journey to revisit the historic 29th July, 1911 IFA Shield win by eleven barefooted Mohun Bagan players over the East Yorkshire Regiment. Roy, for a debut venture, deserves to be lauded for the gutsy choice of showcasing the spirit of the freedom struggle of India through the emotionally pregnant football match. The massive win, a first by any native team, caused a turnaround in the scheme of things and helped revamp and boost the struggle for Independence.
#9 Paan Singh Tomar (Hindi, 2012, directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia)
Made on a shoestring budget, Paan Singh Tomar saw Irrfan Khan playing the biographical role of the Army man who won the steeplechase event seven times in a row at the Indian National Games. Gifted in athletics but tormented by circumstances, Tomar resorts to being a dacoit and murdering people for the sake of revenge. Opening to critical acclaim, Dhulia’s movie was a sleeper hit which also had Nawauddin Siddiqui playing a key role as a police informer.
#8 Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (Hindi, 2013, directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra)
Power-packed performances, a dramatic plot and the perfect lightning pace – all of this stitch together the biographical film on Milkha Singh. Opening to an uproarious response, the Farhan Akhtar-spearheaded film showcases the journey of Milkha Singh from being just another ordinary army recruit to being the ‘Flying Sikh’ at the Olympics. While the initial part of the movie is set in the backdrop of the Indian Partition, it soon takes off to follow the tracks of Singh as he goes to become a legend of Indian athletics.