It is the spring of 2011 and the World Cup of Cricket is being held in India. On every street corner and in every village, children play cricket. The country’s obsession with the sport is unparalleled and it is the only thing that transcends India’s deep divisions of language, religion, region, class, and caste. For almost ...more
It is the spring of 2011 and the World Cup of Cricket is being held in India. On every street corner and in every village, children play cricket. The country’s obsession with the sport is unparalleled and it is the only thing that transcends India’s deep divisions of language, religion, region, class, and caste. For almost half a year, we followed three Indians, for each of whom the sport of cricket is a lifeline. In the struggle and triumph that make up their journeys, we get glimpses of the hope and despair that characterize life in modern India. less
Review Beyond All Boundaries & earn 20 DM Points. Exchange DM points for cashbacks*
* Powered by FAVCY
A sincere, engaging documentary on cricket-mania in India.
If you have ever seen a cricket match on TV involving India, you are most likely familiar with the sight of the thin man with his body painted in the pattern of the tricolor, “Tendulkar 10” written in white on his chest, waving the Indian flag or blowing the horn. His name is Sudhir Kumar Gautam, a thirty-something bachelor from Muzaffarpur in Bihar. When India co-hosted the 2011 Cricket World Cup, Sudhir shuttled on his bicycle from one city to another to watch matches in which India played. The film is bookended by shots of him relentlessly riding on his bicycle, waving to people who instantly recognize him as “That guy on TV!” The film begins with an admittedly clichéd declaration that cricket is a religion in India, with shots of hordes of people nervously glued to their televisions as India faces its opponents in the world championship tournament. But cricket only forms the backdrop for the film, and Beyond All Boundaries is an engaging fare once it settles down on the three individuals whose stories it covers. Sudhir washes his face after a match to remove all the paint and we see the face behind the now famous guy whom his friends refer to as the biggest Sachin fan in the world. He says that he doesn’t want to marry, much to the disappointment of his family, since cricket is his life partner. But the absolute cheesiness of that line notwithstanding, in Sudhir we get a sense of a guy hopelessly passionate about cricket, a guy who genuinely can’t think of doing anything in his life other than watch cricket. Sachin Tendulkar himself sponsors match passes for him, but Sudhir refuses to accept any other financial help from the star. He resolutely hands over 51 rupees to every painter who paints him before the match, even though the painters offer to do it for free. Another individual the film focuses on are Akshaya Surve, an 18 year old girl from Mumbai, who wishes to make it to the Indian Women’s Cricket Team. Akshaya did not appear for her high school exams to practice for her matches. But she hails from a poor family – her father passed away 2 years back and her uncle ill-treats her and her mother. Her coach says that she does have it in her to make the cut, but the same coach, when asked about how much do women cricketers get paid, confesses that she can’t even quote the amount because it would be shameful for the audience to even know. Prithvi Shaw is a 12 year old boy from Virar, a boy deemed to be the next big thing in Indian cricket. He is compared to Sachin Tendulkar and Vinod Kambli when the legendary Mumbai pair used to play school level cricket at Prithvi’s age, and his records are enough evidence. We see him competently facing fast bowlers who are well over 20. His father gave up his job to fully focus on Prithvi’s quest. A senior local player says that if the current scenario is anything to go by, Prithvi is very likely to play for India in another 4-5 years, only the second Indian to do so after Tendulkar. As a film, although all of the above sounds very corny and clichéd considering that many other similar-themed sports films have been made before, perhaps the main reason why Beyond All Boundaries works so well is because it’s a documentary and not a biopic “based on true events”. The characters we watch here very much come across as real people and, say, unlike how a biopic would have vilified Akshaya’s uncle or milked the characters’ modest financial conditions to exalt their story to the “inspiring” status, director Sushrut Jain quietly observes the main characters and the people around them speak. The sense of contrivance and an overwrought attempt to inspire the viewer that plagues many sports films is pleasantly absent in Beyond All Boundaries. When the characters speak of their dreams and their fears and their stories in general, all of it refreshingly rings true, giving the film a vital sense of authenticity. But above all, the film is a document of the near-maniacal craze for the sport in the country. The film only superficially touches upon the scarier aspects of the country’s obsession. There’s a scene shot just before the India-vs-England world cup match outside the stadium, where we sense the eerie jingoism in the crowd when they shout slogans like “Angrezon Bharat chhodo!” without a sense of levity. We see footage from a Sachin Tendulkar interview conducted the day after the world cup victory, where he says that the team hasn’t stepped out to see the public’s reaction since the win and are very excited to do so. But there’s also a Yuvraj Singh interview where he says that the crowds are mad when the team wins and the crowds are mad when they lose. After India’s miserable stint at the 2007 World Cup, the cricketers’ houses were pelted with stones by the angry mobs and their effigies were burnt in public. But that part, perhaps, is for another movie. Beyond All Boundaries is happy to not divulge too deep into these concerns, but what it does remarkably well is cover the good parts of the madness, and the stories of the three individuals. Sudhir cannot afford to buy train tickets to travel across the country to watch matches. But most of the times, when he shows the ticket checker the album of photos of him alongside the star players; they let him travel for free.