Movies have been absolutely essential to the upbringing of every subcontinental child. Cricket on the other hand has been instrumental in binding families and communities with its uniting powers. What’s better than merging the two? Here’s looking at some of the best Hindi movies on cricket.
This one’s a crown jewel so it had to be the one kick-starting the list. An underdog story like no other, Lagaan follows the story of a fictional drought-stricken Indian village under the British who wager their entire lives in an all-or-nothing game of cricket against the very inventors of the sport. The cast, the music and the cricket itself are all etched in every young and older fan’s memory even two decades later. Some younger spinners in today’s Indian team are even referred to as Kachra affectionately by teammates. The international accolades and Academy Award nominations all prove just how on point the film was in every aspect. It’s one of the rare perfect amalgamations of 22 yards on 70mm.
Sports films are always incredibly impactful due to their eventual hurrah, but this one was something else. Iqbal, a young cricket-playing boy is faced with unthinkable obstacles, not the least of which are speech and auditory impediments and a demotivating father, jumps over them all to live his dream of playing for his country with the help of a relentlessly supportive sister and a coach trying to put his own life back together. Most of us watched Iqbal when we were very young and there’s no reason to believe that Aashayein doesn’t play in all our heads even today when we’re facing a challenge. The film got the essence of cricket perfectly – which is persistence and determination to fulfill one’s dream. It is also one of the most accurate in terms of the bowling actions and cricketing styles of players in general.
Hindi cinema clearly understands how impactful the stories of cricket can be to make a compelling narrative which is why they seem to keep making them. The most recent entry to this list has been Jersey. This is the story of a man slowly falling out of love with his wife and out of luck with his chances at playing cricket for his country. His only aim is to stand tall in the eyes of his young son who idolizes his father and is an aspiring cricketer himself. The second half really dives into the sporting aspect of his life and brings out the joy, desperation and satisfaction of representing one’s country in the most beloved sport there is. Jersey comfortably makes its place on this list of the best Hindi movies on cricket.
Also read: Best Dialogues From Jersey Movie
Biopics are usually tricky. They can either go very right or very very wrong. This one is in the former category undoubtedly. The film based on the life and love for cricket of former Indian skipper MS Dhoni is a masterclass on how sports films should be made. It gives viewers enough time to get to know and connect with the man behind the myth we know and love, only to then show us why we love him so much. It encapsulates perfectly the hope that Dhoni embodied for the Indian fans for a decade. The chants of “mahi maar raha hai” still echo when he steps out and weaves his magic in IPL games. The film is a respectful tribute to the chronicle we saw unfold before us in real-time and there simply could not have been a better hat tip to one of the most successful captains we have ever had.
A pure love letter to Indian cricket, 83 is almost a documentary telling us the stories we’ve grown up listening to from parents and grandparents who were cricket fans. The stories of the 1983 world cup are almost sacred to the pantheon of the country’s beloved sport and this was such a remarkable and respectful way of retelling the simple yet magnificent tale of a month and a-half-long World Cup campaign that changed the course of the game of cricket. At first viewing itself it’s so evident that a great deal of love and effort has gone into recreating the actions of each bowler and the shots of each batsman on screen. It’s a true love letter from fans to their gods of cricket and it surely is a must-watch.
An ambitious project, this one is. Chain Kulii Ki Main Kulii is the story of a young orphan boy who stumbles upon a supposedly magical bat that takes him through a journey of a lifetime – from playing for India internationally to finding a family in his role model and captain. It’s a whimsical mix of fantasy, cricket and reality. The dreams of an orphaned, bullied child coming true with the help of just a little magic was exactly what was needed at the time to encourage children to hope and dream to achieve what they aspired to, with little miracles on the way. All of this makes the film one of the best Hindi movies on cricket.
A documentary-style film, Sachin: A Billion Dreams is the unapologetic celebration of the God of Cricket himself. It traces the highs and lows of his career, from playing for his country at all of 16 and building a legacy that remains unparalleled. The film is a trip down memory lane and an absolute delight to watch for fans if they’d like to look back on the highlights of Tendulkar’s career and that of the Indian team, as they both mostly went hand in hand. It’s essentially a thank you letter to the Little Master and everything he’s done for the team and the fans. The calls of “Sachin! Sachin!” at Wankhede still bring goosebumps to viewers, even if it’s an old clip from an iconic match. The experience is worth it because of just that if not anything else, making it a must-watch.
8. Kai Po Che
An adaptation of the Chetan Bhagat novel Three Mistakes of my Life, Kai Po Che is the story of three friends running a cricket academy and facing real-life concerns of communal riots, political unrest and a natural calamity. The stories of these young men are reflective of the millions of people with a deep love for the sport but little chance to take that love further. Their stories, their challenges and their adoration for the game are interwoven expertly into the narrative, which in itself is a rare occurrence in the film. That in itself makes Kai Po Che one of the best Hindi movies on cricket.
It almost feels like the Icarus storytelling pattern was made for this film. Azhar is a close look at the story of a man who flew too close to the Sun and then fell from grace. Mohammad Azharuddin was one of the most illustrious captains of the Indian team who got caught up in a match-fixing scandal that became fatal for his career. Azhar is a mediocre film in terms of storytelling, but an interesting look into the life and scandals of a once beloved captain and just how fame in sport can be so very corrosive.
Telling of hearing lesser-known stories is a joy in and of itself. When those stories are rooted so deeply in human emotion, determination and perseverance, it makes the experience all the more gratifying. Kaun Pravin Tambe is one such film. It takes viewers through the story of a lesser known but equally ambitious and skilled cricketer and his struggles against time, red-tape bureaucracy and a dearth of opportunities. It isn’t a film about towering achievements or huge records, but one of a man and his true devotion to a sport and how hard he would try to make his dreams come true. It does justice to both the character and the sport and that’s probably its most telling feature. This one’s a new, lesser-known film, but it absolutely must be watched.
Films about any sport can seem formulaic and repetitive, but there are always some that break the mould. The best Hindi movies on cricket are those that tell honest stories and also do justice to the complex and beloved sport. Every film on this list is essential viewing for true fans of the game.