Prolific sports documentarian James Erskine (Pantani, The Battle of the Sexes) here takes on his most ambitious project yet: a study of Sachin Tendulkar – the closest thing Indian cricket has to a living diety – played out over Test session duration to soaring AR Rahman compositions.
Much as last year’s biopic did for MS 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 enthralling match footage that progresses from wobbly VHS images to super-HD Indian Premier League coverage.
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The world wanted to watch Sachin bat. Certain sections land somewhere between admiring and naggingly authorised. Erskine soft-pedals around Anjali Tendulkar’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 Control for Cricket, and the pressures of delivering for fans who think nothing of torching a stadium upon an upper-order collapse. Adherents should, however, be sated by the basic combo of heavy-hitting archive and carefully placed lifestyle detail: the revelation that Tendulkar is a Dire Straits devotee cues a montage of his majestic batting – in a deft edit-suite flourish – to Sultans of Swing.