16 Bollywood movies based on cricket

Some of the Bollywood movies based on cricket.

The Indian Premier League is a perfect blend of Bollywood and cricket. Abhishek Mukherjee looks at 16-Bollywood movies based on cricket.

The Indian Premier League (IPL) is when the big Bollywood stars can be seen crowding to the big grounds in dozens — whether representing the franchises, or sometimes even as supporters. It is possibly the only occasion when two of India’s biggest glamour worlds come together.

Despite the craze in cricket, the number of cricket-based movies in Bollywood has been quite limited. In fact, till 1983 there had been virtually no cricket-based Hindi movie other than the Subodh Mukherji’s Love Marriage, where cricket played a role — but the movie was based on the disintegration of a romantic relationship than the sport. Of course, there were a few comic attempts based on cricket and its heroes.

The following scene from Namak Halaal is an example:

There have been cricketers who have worked — often as lead actors — in Bollywood movies. Salim Durani, Sandeep Patil, Ajay Jadeja, Vinod Kambli, Salil Ankola, and Mohsin Khan come to mind immediately.

Kabhi Ajnabi The, the movie that starred Sandeep Patil (along with Poonam Dhillon and Debashree Roy), also had Syed Kirmani playing a minor role, and Clive Lloyd playing himself. The Chairman of Selectors did not look too bad singing around trees!

There have been other movies where cricketers have played significant roles as well. When Rajkumar Saxena (played by Naseeruddin Shah) had to spend 30 billion rupees in 30 days to inherit 330 billion rupees from his eccentric grandfather Mangat Ram (played by Harindranath Chattopadhyay) in Kawal Sharma’s Maalamaal, one of his schemes was to hijack Sunil Gavaskar to play against his Dharavi XI.

On the other hand, when Sameer (Raj Babbar) is chased by goons towards the end of Dayal Nihalani’s Karm Yodha, he runs into a cricket field and asks Kapil Dev for protection!

However, we would not include these movies in our list, since cricket does not play a significant role in any of these movies. There have been cricket matches in movies like Rajiv Mehra’s Chamatkar or Sohail Khan’s Pyar Kiya to Darna Kya, but they can hardly be classified as cricket-based movies.

The 16 that qualify, though, are as follows:

1) Love Marriage (1959)

Director: Subodh Mukherji

Sunil Kumar (Dev Anand), an upcoming cricketer, arrives in Bombay and rents a room, but runs into arguments with Geeta (Mala Sinha), the landlord’s daughter pretty soon. However, Geeta turns up for a match Sunil plays, and falls in love with Sunil during the match. Though Sunil plays some rather unconventional, ordinary cricket, the Ray Lindwall-ish action of the bowler is unmistakable.

They end up getting married, and the marriage goes downhill as it progresses. The movie is immortalised by Mohammad Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar’s duet dheere dheere chal, among other classics.

2) All Rounder (1984)

Director: Mohan Kumar

It took a quarter of a century and (possibly) the 1983 World Cup victory for Bollywood to come up with the next cricket movie. Birju Kumar (Vinod Mehra), through a lot of hardship, brought up his younger brother Ajay (Kumar Gaurav) — who eventually makes it to the Indian team at the expense of star cricketer Vikram (Shakti Kapoor). Vikram has his revenge, though, by getting Ajay drunk and dropped from the Indian Test side. It takes Ajay an immense mental effort and persistent support from Birju to get back to the Test side.

3) Awwal Number (1990)

Director: Dev Anand

The third cricket movie from Bollywood also involved Dev Anand — this time as the director, as well as an actor who played Vikram Singh aka Vicky —– an ex-Test cricketer, the National Chairman of Selectors, and also the Deputy Inspector General of the Police. 

Any movie made by Dev Anand in the second half of his career is a must-watch, and this is no exception. For starters, the movie features Ekta — the Dev Anand discovery who is undoubtedly a contender for being the heaviest lead performer in the history of Bollywood.

After Vicky selects Sunny (Aamir Khan) to replace his own brother Ranvir Singh aka Ronny (Aditya Pancholi) Ronny plots revenge against Sunny. This is where the movie just starts.

With India down 0-2 against Australia, a gang of terrorists (under Ronny’s leadership) plotting to kill 50,000 spectators during the last One-Day International (ODI) at Wankhede Stadium, Ronny in a helicopter (leading to Sunny’s comment “is helicopter ki aawaaz ne to meri concentration hi tod dee“) holding the remote-control to a bomb that will destroy the entire stadium, Vicky with a sniper-gun, Sunny on strike, and six runs to win off the last ball in the dead rubber match, what is likely to happen?

The other immortal aspect of the movie is the song “maidan hai hara, yeh hai cricket” — possibly the first-ever Bollywood song on the sport.

4) Lagaan (2001)

Director: Ashutosh Gowariker

Lagaan is undoubtedly the magnum opus of cricket movies in Bollywood. It can’t really go wrong if you mix cricket and patriotism, get Aamir Khan to act, ask Bhanu Athaiya to do the costumes, and assign AR Rehman to play the tunes. Add to that Anil Mehta’s brilliant cinematography and Amitabh Bachchan’s narration, and you get a complete movie. The match being set in 1893, they have mentioned WG Grace, and even Ashes (“loha bhasm ho jaaye”). There was everything a cricket movie needs, including cricket practice by floodlights, match-fixing, a cripple bowling leg-breaks, and even AK Hangal.

Each and every performer, most of them minimal extras till then, surpassed themselves to pull off a special movie that made it to the Academy Awards. All in all, definitely a timeless classic.

5) Stumped (2003)

Director: Gaurav Pandey

India fights Pakistan at the Kargil border as the residents of the Happy Home Society are keen on watching World Cup 1999. Major Raghav Seth (Alyy Khan), a fellow-resident, goes on war, and is believed to be missing, and probably dead. On the backdrop of the World Cup, the movie displays the emotional turmoil the Major’s wife Reena (Raveena Tandon) goes through, and her lonely helplessness as the other residents of the Society concentrate on the cricket. The movie also features Kapil Dev, Sachin Tendulkar, and Yuvraj Singh sending out a social message.
6) Iqbal (2005)

Director: Nagesh Kukunoor

Iqbal (Shreyas Talpade) is a deaf-and-mute with the sole aspiration to bowl fast and play cricket for India against his anti-cricket father Anwar (Yatin Karyekar). After he was rejected by a cricket academy, his sister Khadija (Shweta Prasad) seeks out the help of the local drunkard and ex-cricketer Mohit (Naseeruddin Shah). After being rejected by the Hyderabad Ranji Trophy side, he finds a place in the Andhra Pradesh squad, resists a bribe, and takes his performance to new levels. He also meets Kapil Dev at the end of the movie.
7) Say Salaam India (2007)

Director: Subhash Kapoor

An unexpectedly refreshing, realistic movie involving school cricket which was deglamourised, perhaps intentionally. The movie narrates a perpetual contest between Royal Heritage School and Adarsh Vidya Mandir. Hari Sadu (Sanjay Suri) tries to coach Royal Heritage School, but cannot come to terms with the boys’ ostentatious and lazy attitude, and is replaced by Harry Oberoi (Milind Soman). Hari moves to Adarsh Vidya Mandir, who win one match after the other to meet with Royal Heritage School in the final, where they face biased umpiring and other hurdles. For once, the match does not end in a huge six.
8) Hattrick (2007)

Director: Milan Luthria

Hattrick is a tale of three sets of people — the first involving an ex-cricketer David Abraham (Danny Denzongpa) and the cynic Dr Satyajit Chavan, who opposes the idea of people watching cricket; Hemu Patel (Paresh Rawal), a wannabe English immigrant, who is confronted with racism; and Sarabjeet Singh (Kunal Kapoor), an avid cricket-lover, and his wife Kashmira (Rimi Sen), who thinks cricket is a waste of time. Cricket eventually solves the problems in all the three cases.

The movie also contains the song “wicket bacha“, and features Harsha Bhogle and Gautam Bhimani in cameo performances.
9) Chain Kulii ki Main Kulii (2007)

Director: Kittu Saluga

The movie is about Karan (Zain Khan), a 13-year old who lives in an orphanage, and has been
brought up on Kapil Dev’s 175 not out in the 1983 World Cup. He somehow manages to acquire the bat Kapil Dev had used in that innings, and bats so well with his ‘magic bat’ that he becomes the youngest player in history to play international cricket. However, as Karan finds himself in the Indian team led by Varun (Rahul Bose), he runs into a string of events, and even loses his bat before the final match of the series. Kapil Dev makes an appearance here as well.
10) Meerabai Not Out (2008)

Director: Chandrakant Kulkarni

Meera Achrekar (Mandira Bedi), a school-teacher, lives in a Shivaji Park Chawl (do note the Tendulkar references) with her brother Manoj (Mahesh Manjrekar), and is a diehard cricket fan and an avid Anil Kumble worshipper in the movie. She is so obsessed about the sport that she turns up late for her own wedding with Dr Arjun Awasthi (Eijaz Khan). This infuriates Arjun’s father Dr Awasthi (Anupam Kher). The movie reaches a climax when Dr Awasthi reaches to the final round of a quiz contest, and is forced to ask his daughter-in-law (using the Phone-a-Friend lifeline) the names of the batsmen dismissed by Kumble during his 10 for 74. Kumble plays a small appearance in the movie himself.
11) Jannat (2008)

Director: Kunal Deshmukh

Arjun (Emraan Hashmi), a small-time gambler, gets involved in the convoluted world of cricket betting, and reaches dizzying heights at a rapid pace. However, he soon faces the dilemma of choosing between his convoluted, unethical profession and his love, Zoya (Sonal Chauhan).
12) Victory (2009)

Director: Ajit Pal Mangat

Victory probably had a cast containing enough players to organise an IPL. Containing an ensemble cast including past legends like Allan Border, Tony Greig, Mohinder Amarnath, and Waqar Younis as well as recent stars like Michael Hussey, Graeme Smith, Muttiah Muralitharan, and Sanath Jayasuriya, Victory arguably consisted of the maximum number of Test cricketers for any movie, involving a lot of money.

Vijay Shekhawat (Harman S Baweja, arguably the worst actor in the history of Bollywood), the protagonist of the movie, gets to play for India, loses his place due to an undisciplined life, develops a brain haemorrhage from the shock, but still manages to come back to the Indian side, eventually pulling off a victory. Despite the stars, they chose poor Stuart Clark to get severely butchered in the last over of the match.
13) Dil Bole Hadippa! (2009)

Director: Anurag Singh

The talented batter Veera Kaur (Rani Mukherji), dances in a drama group, and aspires to become a champion cricketer. When Rohan (Shahid Kapoor) has a trial session to select upcoming players, Veera goes disguised as Veer Pratap Singh, and gets selected. What follows next is a (terrible, to say the least) comedy of errors over Veera’s true gender. Rani Mukherji’s comeback movie ended in a disaster.
14) World Cupp 2011 (2009)

Director: Ravi Kapoor

Ravi Indulkar (Ravi Kapoor), the captain of the Indian team, accepts money from a bookmaker to lose the World Cup Final of 2007 against Pakistan (who cares about facts?). Ravi and his entire team are banned for four years, they are shunned by their families and the world, lose their girlfriends, and get eaten by tigers. Okay, maybe not the last bit. Oh, and the bookmaker doesn’t turn up with the money either.

Just before the 2011 World Cup, India loses to both Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, and upon Ravi’s insistence, the coach (Suresh Oberoi) and selection committee bring back the entire team (!) for the World Cup. What happens next is history.
The movie features Nikhil Chopra and Saba Karim.
15) Patiala House (2011)

Director: Nikhil Advani

Gurtej Kahlon (Rishi Kapoor) is assaulted by a group of skinheads, who manage to get away. The seeds of Gurtej’s negativity towards the English are thus sown. As his son Parghat aka Gattu (Akshay Kumar) emerges as a talented cricketer on Gurtej’s insistence (he was a fan of the Amarnath’s, father and son). The problem begins when Gattu gets selected for England, which infuriates his father. Despite Gurtej having a heart-attack, Gattu continues to play, and eventually wins the match and his father’s heart, who commented that his son bowled like Lala Amarnath.

The movie featured cricket stars like Shaun Tait, Kieron Pollard, Herschelle Gibbs, and Nasser Hussain, but the longest and the most important role was played by Andrew Symonds. Sanjay Manjrekar and Nikhli Chopra also acted as commentators, and for some reason, often commented in Hindi for an Australia-England ODI at Lord’s.
16) Ferrari ki Sawari (2012)

Director: Rajesh Mapuskar

A Vidhu Vinod Chopra script is always a treat, and this one is no exception. When young Kayo (Ritwik Sahore) gets selected for a camp at Lord’s, his father Rusi (Sharman Joshi) is coaxed into a unique plan — to steal Sachin Tendulkar’s Ferrari and get the required one-and-a-half lakh rupees. Rusi’s father Debu (Boman Irani), an ex-cricketer, also joins in the mission, and the outcome is a brilliant seriocomic sketch (with excellent performances from relatively unknown faces) of both a boy’s passion for the sport, and his father and grandfather’s feelings for him.

(Abhishek Mukherjee is a cricket historian and Senior Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He generally looks upon life as a journey involving two components – cricket and literature – though not as disjoint elements. A passionate follower of the history of the sport with an insatiable appetite for trivia and anecdotes, he has also a steady love affair with the incredible assortment of numbers that cricket has to offer. He also thinks he can bowl decent leg-breaks in street cricket, and blogs at http://ovshake.blogspot.in. He can be followed on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ovshake and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ovshake42)