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When Rani Mukerji did a Kevin Pietersen to help India win against Pakistan

Rani Mukherji's character did raise an important question on the acceptance of women in sports, but the film overlooked that discourse.
Rani Mukerji’s character did raise an important question on the acceptance of women in sports, but the film overlooked that discourse.

Two years after MS Dhoni-inspired young Indian team defeated Pakistan to win the ICC World Twenty20 2007 title, Rani Mukerji, inspired an Indian team to win a friendly Aman Cup encounter against Pakistan after nine years. Sudatta Mukherjee remembers the famous Indian flick in which Shahid Kapoor did a Misbah with a safer result, and Rani did a Kevin Pietersen, when the team needed her him her the most.

When Vikram Singh aka Vicky (Anupam Kher) couldn’t bear losing the Aman Cup for consecutive nine years against Pakistan, he fakes a heart-attack to make his son Rohan fly to India and help him win the title back for India Tigers. In the same city of Amritsar, stays a young woman Veera, who dreams of playing for India one day and winning the World Cup for the country. When she hears that Rohan has organised a selection camp for India Tigers, she instantly appears at the ground next morning.

However, she returns dejected when the security doesn’t allow her to enter and participate as she is a girl. After a dance show for her drama company, she comes up with an idea of getting into the opposite gender’s attire, she dresses up with a beard and next morning she reaches for the selection. After few initial drama at the ground, Veera, who now is Veer, is selected for the India Tigers team.

After training, hardwork and some romance between Rohan and Veera and some comedy between Rohan, Veer and Sonia (Rohan’s friend), the team is finally ready to play the Aman Cup. This time the Aman Cup will be held at Lahore and is a Day-Night T20 match, marking the Independence Day of both Pakistan and India.

Match Day

India Tigers, led by captain Rohan, was the team to field first. Captain Rohan opened the bowling for India. Rohan, a right-arm fast bowler starts his run up. With a mirror-image-of-Zaheer-Khan-like run up and a cocked wrist action, the first delivery of his is missed by the Pakistan batsman and the ball goes and connects the middle stump. The Indian team breaks into celebration.

Captain Ali Ansari is the next batsman for Pakistan Champs. A strong man, with air of pride around him, Ansari walks to the middle. Ansari plays the first ball he faces on back-foot towards deep point and the ball runs away to the boundary. After four overs, Pakistan Champs had scored 17 runs for the loss of one wicket.

At the start of the fifth over, a right-hand Indian bowler, whose actions are similar to Rajat Bhatia, bowls a full-length delivery to the Pakistan Champs batsman, and he angles the shot towards midwicket but the fielder at short midwicket, leans forward and takes the catch like Ravichandran Ashwin, which just manages not to touch the ground. Pakistan lose their second wicket. Few overs later, one of the Pakistan batsmen are ran out, at the wicketkeepers end.

In between this, Rohan’s father and mother, who came just to watch her son’s play, after years of staying separated comes together to celebrate and diminish the gap between them. At the end of seven overs, Pakistan’s score stood 34 runs at the loss of three wickets.

Rohan returns to start his second spell.  The Pakistan batsman tries to back foot defend Rohan’s delivery but is trapped leg before wicket. The umpire raises his finger and the fourth wicket falls for the Pakistan outfit.

At this point, Rohan gathers his troop together, and instructs them that they need to bowl the Pakistan team inside 100. Pakistan at this point had lost five wickets and the score was 46, at the end of 10 overs.

Rohan continues his second spell and bowls a good length delivery on the off side. The right-hand Pakistan batsman tries edge it past first and second slip towards third man but, our hero Veer jumps to his right side and takes an amazing game-changing catch. The whole team break into celebration and all of them run across to Veer, jumping over him (her).

But the catch really changes the course of the match for the India Tigers. During the celebrations, one of Veer aka Veera’s fake eye lenses gets stuck in Rohan’s finger and finally the captain realises that Veer is none other than Veera. A heartbroken Rohan returns to his bowling line, with the idea that Veera used him and his love to get into the Indian team.

Rohan oversteps and bowls a no-ball. The next ball is bowled wide of the off stump and Ansari goes on back and smashes it in towards deep cover-point boundary. Pakistan captain Ansari goes on smashing the ball all over the park. Pakistan easily reached 100 for the loss of six wickets in 13 overs.

Ansari looks invincible and there is nothing the Indians are able to do. At the end of 17 overs, Pakistan were 152 for the loss of six wickets. The last ball of the innings is smashed by Ansari towards long on. Veer Pratap Singh tried to take a catch but the ball goes over the five feet five inch player for six.

At the end of 20 overs, Pakistan’s score stood at 213 for the loss of six wickets. The commentators said, “It seemed the Indian team handed over the match as a gift to the Pakistani counterpart in the last ten overs.” The same team which was finding it impossible to reach 100 runs had set a challenging target of 214 for Indian Tigers.

The Indian innings

 

An emotional Rohan tells his father Vicky, whose dream of winning the Aman Cup he is pursuing, that only ten players will play the game now. He goes on to the dressing room and asks his first-down batsman to open the batting with him. Veera has been sidelined and she has been removed as the opening batsman.

Rohan faces the first ball of the innings and plays Ansari’s delivery smoothly as he drives the ball towards wide long off.

In the meantime, Veer changes back to Veera.

Ansari continues and bowls the Indian batsmen. The Pakistan captain points his finger towards the Indian captain, who is standing at the other end, and celebrates. Rohan looks away. Ansari, with an action reminiscent of Umar Gul’s, bowls a short pitched delivery which the Indian batsman tries to loft towards mid-on but is smoothly caught by a Pakistan fielder called Tamim. At the end of three overs, the Indians were reeling at eight for two.

At the other end, Rohan continues to play his game, as he hits a ball towards deep point for boundary. In the same over, while taking a quick single, Rohan’s misjudgement proves costly, as the other Indian batsman is run out.

Pakistan continue to torment India, as one of their spinners, bowls a leg-break with a Harbhajan Singh-like action to clean bowl Rohan’s partner. The ball pitches in front of the batsman and turns inward from the left, as the batsmen goes forward to play the shot and is deceived and bowled.

At the end of the seventh over, India are left stranded at 38 for six.

The Pakistan captain’s all-round performance continues, well supported by the fielders. One of the Pakistan fielder jumps acrobatically and takes a wonderful catch at cover. At the end of nine overs, India’s score stood 47 for the loss of eight wickets. At the same point umpires indicate for drinks break. Vicky, Rohan’s Dad decides to give his son a visit at the middle.

Rani Mukherji in a still from the movie.
Rani Mukerji in a still from the movie.

Vicky makes Rohan realise that winning the match is not so important for him, as he is now happy with the fact that his son at least tried to win it for them. However, a strong-headed Rohan replies that the match isn’t over yet and requests Vicky to go and instruct Veera to get ready to play. Vicky goes and asks Veera to get ready, as Rohan wishes to see her, the best ‘batsman’ of the team, win it for India.

At the other end, Ansari bowls a short-pitched delivery, which the left-hand batsman lofts it and the Pakistan player dives and takes a catch at long-on. Pakistan are one wicket away from victory. At the end of 10 overs, India were 49 for the loss of nine wickets. They required 165 runs from 60 balls.

Perhaps, the only time when an opener came to bat at No 11

At this point, Veera comes to bat along with Rohan. Ansari bowls a good length ball on the off stump, Veera moves, plays a pull shot toward deep forward midwicket, as the ball goes for a six! She, Veera, makes room the next ball and smashes the ball towards point as the ball races for four. Veera even sweeps the ball towards deep square leg.

Veera continues to smash the ball all over the park. Rohan also continues at the other end. Rohan completes his century with India requiring 42 from 18 balls. Some more frantic hitting brought the target down to 28 runs from 13 balls. Rohan and Veera had almost sealed it for India against Pakistan and the Aman Cup seemed to return to India after nine long years.

Veera plays a shot towards point and tries to take a quick single. Her eyes are on the ball, as she takes the run, and Ansari moves backward to collect and ball in a chance for run out but Ansari extends his foot and trips Veera. Veera falls and breaks her right hand. However, she manages to get it bandaged and gets up to play.

India needed 27 runs from the last two overs. The bowler bowls a beamer across Veera’s face.  She manages to move back on time. Rohan signals from the other hand to calm down. The bowler bowls a good length delivery outside off, which Veera misses. The pain in her right hand is excruciating. Rohan continues to motivate her from the other end.

But Veera continues to miss. Veera somehow manages to hit the ball and they take a single. The next delivery Rohan hit the ball for six towards long off. On the last ball of the over, they try to take a single so that Rohan retains the strike, however, that doesn’t happen and Veera manages to save herself from getting run out. Veera has to play the last over.

India need 20 runs from the last over. Ansari comes to bowl the last. He bowls far outside off stump and by this time, Rohan and Veera manages to take a single.

Rohan prepares for the second ball, his eyes on the ball. Ansari runs up  and bowls a short pitched ball towards mid stump. Rohan does a Misbah and scoops it over the leg slip towards fine leg. It runs to the boundary. Rohan hit the next ball straight for six. India need nine off three balls, and takes a single off the next ball.

Rohan comes to the middle and asks Veera to prove that she is a world-class batsman. India need eight off two balls. As Ansari comes to bowl, just before he delivers the ball, Veera changes her stance, switches her position to a left hand batsman and smashes the ball to midwicket. Veera’s Kevin-Pietersen-style switch-hit frustrated Ansari.

Veera decides to play left-hand. She tightens her grip, her eyes on the bowler. Ansari runs and bowls a short-pitched delivery on off-stump. Veera makes room and smashes it in between third and fourth slip. There are no fielders to stop it, as the wicketkeeper jumps in a total filmy manner and tries to stop it. It runs towards the boundary line, towards third man. It is being chased by two fielders.

They don’t wait for the ball to reach the boundary. They start running between wickets. Near the boundary line, the fielder manages to stop the ball from reaching the boundary. However, there is bit of misfielding between the two fielders and Veera runs for the last run and jumps and makes ground. At same time, the Pakistan wicketkeeper had managed to remove the bails. The Pakistan players appeal for run out. There is a silence on the ground for few second, before the umpire signals it as not out.

The Indian crowd, players, family, commentators break into celebrations. Vicky runs to the ground and hugs Rohan. The players at the other side runs toward Veera. The supporters break into the ground with the Indian flag. Lahore ground is suddenly filled with Indian supporters.

What followed

Rohan wins the Man of the Match but he walks towards Veera and drags her to the podium and hands over the award to her. Side by side, her identity is revealed to the crowd. Everyone start protesting, stating that they have been cheated and India Tigers have won it wrongfully.

However, Veera states her reason of faking to be man and how she was asked to leave. She explains and questions why women cannot play. In the end, everyone agrees to her and they congratulate her. Rohan and Veera also reunite.

The movie is more about how a love story can also be centred around a India-Pakistan Twenty20 match and probably it is the only match in the history of all sports, which crosses all rational reasoning and sensibilities.

(Sudatta Mukherjee is a reporter with CricketCountry. Other than writing on cricket, she spends penning random thoughts on her blog and produces weekly posts on new food joints at Whopping Weekends. She played Table Tennis for University of Calcutta. When she is not writing, you will catch her at a movie theatre or watching some English serial on her laptop. Her Twitter id is @blackrosegal)

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