The inspiring sports biopic is a genre of its own – these movies usually begin with an underdog character, who goes through tremendous hardships but all the while maintains a winning attitude and eventually achieves the dreams they had set out with. Of course, these stories are inspired by the real lives of the many sports celebrities in our country, who deserve to have their stories told to the masses.
However, for the longest time, and even now, this genre was dominated by men. Stories of male sports celebrities were told time and time again. And perhaps Bollywood is not to be blamed for this bias – after all, this is reflected in the attitude of most of the country when it comes to women in sports. Unless they win any medals or awards, they are barely noticed by the masses.
While the male cricket team is revered throughout the country, the female Indian cricket team is largely ignored. However, in recent times, perhaps after the success of movies such as Mary Kom, more Indian filmmakers have attempted to tell the stories of a few female sports personalities. From ‘Saina’ and ‘Shabaash Mithu’ to the upcoming ‘Chakda Xpress’, there has been a trend of creating more women-focused films.
However, both ‘Saina’ and ‘Shabaash Mithu’ were met with stale reactions as well as mixed reviews. Was this because of the poor execution of female-led stories, or is the sports biopic genre losing its touch as a whole?
When we take movies such as ‘Shabaash Mithu’ into account and compare them to the rising popularity of female cricket in India, we see how much of a wasted opportunity these films are proving to be. Instead of focusing on the real-life challenges and achievements of Mithali Raj, the longest-serving captain of the Indian female cricket team, the film gets lost in movie cliches of female bullying and “men’s team vs women’s team”.
On the other hand, female cricket in India has begun to earn its fame – with more and more cricket fans now paying attention to the achievements of female cricketers such as Mithali Raj or Jhulan Goswami (yet another biopic in the making). With also the possibility of a female IPL in the near future, the interest that Indian people have in female cricket is at an all-time high. Further proving the increasing popularity and interest in female cricket is the presence of their matches on various cricket betting sites and apps, where fans look to wager and bet on cricket online.
But even with this increased interest in the lives of female sports personalities, these movies have not managed to interest audiences. Instead of telling unique stories about these female achievers, filmmakers are more obsessed with recreating the cliches that were used by previously made sports movies. A few bold scenes and a couple of inspiring dialogues are, unfortunately, no longer enough to hold the attention of audiences, who crave more truth and depth instead.
Hopefully, Anushka Sharma’s Jhulan Goswami in ‘Chakda Xpress’ will be able to tell a more grounded story than Taapsee Pannu’s Mithali Raj was able to tell in ‘Shabaash Mithu’.