Posted by Fenil Seta
James Erskine’s upcoming Sachin: A Billion Dreams might just offer a fresh perspective on both the man and the cricketer
Murali K Menon (MUMBAI MIRROR; May 14, 2017)
I always thought Brian Lara was the better batsman, but I might want to watch Sachin: A Billion Dreams. Prime among the reasons is that the docu-feature, which releases May 26, has been directed by James Erskine. Erskine’s previous films include Battle of the Sexes (on the match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs in 1973) and Shooting for Socrates, a heartwarming comedy about the Northern Ireland football team taking on Socrates’ Brazilians, the best side never to win the World Cup, bang in the middle of the tumultuous 1980s. If that’s not enough, there’s also never-before-seen footage from Tendulkar’s debut series against Pakistan, which has acquired near mythical status among cricket fans. “It’s also about certain things cricket lovers don’t know about. They know all about my cricket, but the movie’s about what it was like to be Sachin Tendulkar, both when the going was good and when we were in the doldrums,” says the man himself.
He is dressed in faded denims, a dark red shirt and stylish burgundy derbies, and sunlight glints off his expensive timepiece. As always, he is unfailingly polite and meticulously rehearsed. Thankfully, he still has that disarming laugh, and he employs it as he answers a query about what it is like to watch a movie about oneself. “When Ravi (Bhagchandka, producer and fanboy) first got in touch — this was about two years before I retired — my first response was ‘no way’. The other day when I watched the movie, I thought, ‘Wow! All of this seems so unreal’, and it was fitting that, in a way, it culminated with India winning the World Cup. That was something I had to wait 22 years for.”
Erskine has used different mediums in an effort to say and show something new about a man who has been — and still is — relentlessly covered by the media. There’s dramatisation, home videos, dinner with the Tendulkars, what Sachin’s like with his closest friends... “What do I do when I’m on holiday, some intimate moments with my family…” The documentary also has songs, and Tendulkar is quick to add that he has not sung them.
Erskine and co. spent months chasing the footage of his first Test series — there are bits of it floating on YouTube and the originals no longer exist — they found some of it in the US, Australia and elsewhere. The film will also have Tendulkar speaking about match-fixing, claims Erskine. “About what his mental state was like when news about the match-fixing scandal broke.”
That’s nice to know, and probably as important a reason as any to watch S:BD. In any case, irrespective of how the film turns out, one can safely expect it to be a huge improvement over Tendulkar’s autobiography, which was the literary equivalent of a tsetse fly.