Sachin: A Billion Dreams ***
Dir: James Erskine. Documentary with: Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni, Virender Sehwag. 138 mins. Cert: 12A
Prolific sports documentarist James Erskine (Pantani, The Battle of the Sexes) here takes on his most ambitious project yet: a study of Sachin Tendulkar – the closest Indian cricket has to a living God – played out over Test session duration to soaring A. R. Rahman compositions. Much as last year’s biopic did for M.S. Dhoni, Erskine positions Tendulkar as a modernising influence, an upwardly mobile middle-class boy driving his country into the 21st century; his ascendancy coincides with the global TV rights boom, reflected in generally enthralling match footage that progresses from wobbly VHS images to super-HD IPL coverage. The world wanted to watch Sachin bat.
Certain sections land somewhere between admiring and naggingly authorised. Erskine soft-pedals around Anjali’s decision to abandon her medical studies to become a full-time wife, Sachin’s apparently fraught relations with India’s ever-byzantine Board of Cricket Control, and the pressures of delivering for fans who think nothing of torching a stadium upon an upper-order collapse. Less intemperate spectators should, however, be sated by the basic combo of heavy-hitting archive and carefully placed lifestyle detail: the revelation that Tendulkar is an unapologetic Dire Straits devotee cues a montage of his 1997/98 majesty set – in a deft edit-suite flourish – to “Sultans of Swing”.
Sachin: A Billion Dreams opens in selected cinemas from today.