Think of superstars. What comes to your mind? The immediate image that comes to most of our minds are film stars and cricketers. These two rule the roost like no one when it comes to stardom and attaining a certain demigod status in our nation. Why does this happen? What is so special about cricket and films that make us go mad and captures our imagination?
Here, I explore a few reasons that comes to mind as a fellow fanatic of Cricket and films
They Excite Us !
Think of the last time you whistle out loud. It would most certainly be at a place watching a cricket match or watching a film. I can sense you stepping in saying ‘Music performances?’ but those mostly sing film stuff so that goes into that account too. We love these two because they are pretty darn exciting to watch. There is something absolutely poignant about watching a match or a movie unfold. The suspense, the thrill, the euphoria when Dhoni hits a six or when Thalaivar whacks a villain, that feeling is incomparable with anything in our life. In a way, cricket and films get us out of our mundane lives and makes us part of this theatre of dreams. Which makes me talk about my next point.
They are the Theatres of Dreams
We love Films and Cricket because they are theatres of dreams. It is where the dreams, hopes and aspirations of artists and athletes are staged. In tamil, the great writer Sujatha when writing a book about the cine field, he named it ‘கனவுத் தொழிற்சாலை” the Factory of Dreams. What a beautiful term it is indeed. On the other hand, Shakespeare said life’s a stage didn’t he?
It is true that movies in a way, stages and enacts our dreams too. They are the projections of the lives we aspire to live or cannot live. Similarly, Cricket captures our imagination. It brings into our modest houses,untold glories which could have never been possible for us. It brings us one and together with the moment, uniting all of us in collective joy. This leads me to my next reason.
They Unite Us
Who doesn’t like a great movie or a nail biting match? What’s a greater joy than a FDFS with our closest friends or a collective jump when we witness the winning moment of a cricket final? It is this togetherness that makes us crave about Cricket and Cinema. For those few moments, it breaks all our shackles of caste, creed or religion and makes us one entity. The real joy is collective joy and Cricket and Cinema unite us like nothing else. They make us stop looking at the backgrounds of people and lets us savour their moments of magnificence. Which brings me to something so important today. At times when religion and caste dominate our social discussions, Cricket and Cinema are only two virgin entities remaining, at least for the audience, which remain free from all these artificial boundaries that we have created for ourselves. The Atheist doesn’t care that Ilaiyaraja sir is a devotee of Ramana Maharishi. The staunch Hindu doesn’t care a hoot when it is Mohammad Shami that has won us a match. Nor a staunch muslim care when it is Dhoni who has hit the winning six. When ARR bellows Vande Mataram, we forget our religions/teachings and become one. Similarly, Cricket and films cut across states in India. Especially our country where each state with its distinct cultures and languages is a country on its own, cricket and cinema have Pan Indian appeal. Whatever the language is, a great film is a great film. As Martin Scorsese says, Cinema in itself is a language. Its emotions cuts across cultures. Coppola’s Godfather has inspired a Nayagan from Mani Ratnam and a Sarkar from Ramgopal Varma. Similarly, when Sachin or Dhoni hits a six, its causes celebration across the country. For those few hours and moments, the country forgets its states.
They create Heroes
We are a nation that looks up to the larger than life hero. Right from our scriptures and mythologies and to Ajith/Vijay stardom till day, we are always fascinated by the mass hero, the saviour and the lone wolf who acts as a Godsend. Films create these new age mythical figures, the ones that capture the imagination of the masses and makes them go into delirium each time they appear on screen. And, it doesn’t surprise us when Sachin Tendulkar is called ‘God’ by the Indian media and supporters. He is not a mere mortal for us. Sachin is God, and a God cannot fail us. Foreign cricketers are often bemused by this terminology and cannot wrap their heads around this phenomenon. There is that famous episode when Yuvraj Singh touched Sachin’s feet on-field in a non international match at the Lords. You would not find this in any other country but ours. Cricket has created these larger than life figures for us to worship. A Sharjah sandstorm or the World cup final parade are not mere memories for us. Those are stories that we carry with forever.
The Stories they tell us
Storytelling and listening is part of our inherent psyche. Right from Therukoothu or Kadhakalakshepam, we are a nation that loves it stories. As each cricket match or a movie unfolds, its a new story that is presented to us. It is no surprise then that Cinema and Cricket captivates us. As director Myskkin says “ there is a certain poignancy when you sit inside a complete dark room and then a story unfolds, you are no wonder transported into that world”. A similar things happens inside a stadium. Watching a match with a rousing crowd, you can feel the whole stadium sways to the story that is unfolding in front of them. Players become like gladiators vying for glory. The moments are instant, immediate and absolute blockbuster material. It is no wonder that Cricket and Cinema transport us into these diverse states of emotion.
The celebration of the Underdog
MS Dhoni is an enigma of Indian Cricket. His appeal not only lies in his cricketing or captaining abilities. It is his background. It stems from the state he represented, the hinterland of Jharkhand. For long, cricket was dominated by the major cities of India. Dhoni broke this spell. Here is a man, an ex ticket collector and playing for one of the weaker teams of Ranji, Jharkhand, bashing his way towards glory. When he came in, he was anything but a proper cricketer as we have known. Having seen the impeccable and almost soldier like technique/demeanour of a Rahul Dravid/Sachin Tendulkar, Dhoni was a like madman unleashed inside a library. Long hair, massive forearms, built like a train and a technique that resembled a a gardener at work, Dhoni was frowned upon when he came in. But he exploded his way through perceptions and went on to become one of our greatest. Why this immense love for him though? Because he was an underdog, a man from nowhere. Who doesn’t love an underdog story?Similarly, if you look at the popularity of Rajinikanth or a certain Sivakarthikeyan, or a Nawazuddin Siddiqui, or even Shah Rukh Khan, it is not only their abilities as actors, but their underdog stories that captures our imagination. We as a nation, love to celebrate these people because we feel they are one of us. We go mad about films and cricket because its the great cauldron when a man from nowhere can become the biggest star of this nation
Written by - ADITYA RAGHAVAN