Sports biopic seems to be the new trend in Bollywood, not that new though. We have witnessed films like Chak De India, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, MS Dhoni-The untold story, Sultan, Mary Kom, etc in the past. Some movies did well and some did great. People seemed to enjoy the film regardless of which sport it is based on, but somehow, in the back of my mind there exists one question, “Do we really care about any other sport than Cricket, in India?”
We as a nation have always been obsessed with Cricket and as a professional sportswriter, I still can’t agree to, that India is a multi-sport country. With a population of 1.3 billion people, India has no shortage of sporting talent. What Sports in India need are good facilities, investment, trainers/coaches and scouting, but, we know in which sport most of the money is invested and even a toddler would tell you what that sport is.
Dangal, which is a recent Bollywood release, is a biopic of Mahavir Singh Phogat, who taught wrestling to his daughters Geeta Phogat and Babita Kumari and the journey of Geeta and her other two sisters, who came from a small village and made it big in the world of Women wrestling. Aamir Khan has played the role of Mahavir Singh Phogat and the movie is already declared houseful and it goes without saying that people love this flick. Also Read- Dangal has been described as a path-breaking sports film in India, hope it has its facts in place
But my question is, how many of them actually follow wrestling or even know the basic rules of the game? Why wasn’t Mahavir Singh Phogat trending before this movie was released or announced even when he was awarded the Dronacharya Award by the Government of India? Why now? The answer is not shocking at all, and we know that the real reason is that we are more aware about Cricket or let’s say we are mostly aware about Cricket, than any other sports.
If you think I am being biased then, pick MS Dhoni(movie) for example. We all knew who MS Dhoni was even before the movie was announced and why shouldn’t we know, after all, he is the captain of Indian Cricket team and took team India to new heights under his captaincy. But did we knew about Mahavir Singh Phogat before Dangal(Movie) was announced or about Geeta Phogat who gave India its first gold medal in women’s wrestling in the 55 kg freestyle category at the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
Even a famous Rifle shooter, Gagan Narang said that a one-sport country couldn’t be called a sporting nation. He said, ”Cricket is a really entertaining sport, but we definitely need awareness for other sports in our country. Whether it is a team or individual sport, it takes years of hard work and sacrifice to achieve laurels at the international level. It’s never been an easy journey for any sportsperson in this country. They deserve as much respect and accolades as a cricketer.”
No to go too far, we can take the recent example of Olympics, 2016. India had a relatively poor outing in the Games not just against developed Western countries, but against other developing nations as well. India is a developing country but honestly, has the capability to provide its sportspersons with the necessary facilities and develop a way to bring more and more victories in other sports as well.
People were furious over India’s performance at Olympics, every media channel and people on social media were talking about the problems and discussing why we failed badly in Olympics. It became a hot topic for few days and then faded. I guess, not many will be able to name even 2-3 athletes who took part in Olympics 2016.
It’s high time that we should consider giving importance to other sports events, but then, it will take years for the Nation who treat Cricket as a religion. Sports development authorities, all sports committees present in the country need to realise that, and I am afraid that till that time we might lack behind the number of nations who are clinching gold in Olympics, Commonwealth games, Asian games, etc.
Sports biopics should not only entertain cinema lovers but make them believe that sportspersons in this part of the world need their support beyond cinema halls