ICC World Cup 2023 fever is running high! Cricket is back in the headlines. Over the decades, Bollywood has time and again picked stories that revolve around our most loved sport and its heroes. Capturing the passion and excitement, skills and strategy, these films have also helped us relive the magic of some of the greatest moments of our popular sport and get a peek into the inside stories of the tournaments and the players’ lives. Let’s take a look at the top-of-the-mind cricket films of Bollywood and discuss their stories, star cast, and impact.
The Dev Anand-Mala Sinha starrer Love Marriage is a sweet Bollywood rom-com directed by Subodh Mukherjee. The movie’s story revolves around Sunil Kumar or Sonu (Dev Anand), a cricket star of Jhansi who lives with his brother Anil Kumar (Abhi Bhattacharya’s) family. Sonu’s sister-in-law, Uma and her little son have a deep affection for him.
The film begins with a cricket backdrop with the dashing Dev looking every inch a suave batsman who goes to Bombay to give an interview for a job. He rents an apartment and Geeta (Mala Sinha), the daughter of the houseowner, falls in love with him for his cricketing skills. The romance is heightened by some evergreen songs composed by Shankar Jaikishan and written by Shailendra and Hasrat Jaipuri.
Sonu and Geeta’s love story meets a road bump when Anil falls in a honey trap. Love Marriage is one of the first films to feature a star cricket player as the hero.
Director: Subodh Mukherjee
* Dev Anand as Sonu / Sunil Kumar
* Abhi Bhattacharya as Sonu’s brother Anil Kumar
* Pranoti Ghosh as Sonu’s bhabhi
* Mala Sinha as Geeta
* Helen as a dancer
She ne khela He se aaj cricket match (Love Marriage, 1959) Shankar Jaikishan / Hasrat Jaipuri & Shailendra / Mohd Rafi
Dev Anand’s love for cricket found full expression in Awwal Number. It has a powerful storyline that showcases a young, talented cricket player Sunny who is targetted by a terrorist group. It’s an exciting watch as the film explores the themes of patriotism, sportsmanship, and the triumph of good over evil. One of the early films of Aamir Khan, Awwal Number is one of the first films to look at the game as the context of the story.
Dev Anand uses the thrill of cricket action as the backdrop, weaving in a terrorist subplot. The boyish Aamir Khan shows glimpses of his future potential. Dev Anand, Aditya Pancholi, and Ekta and Neeta Puri create a sports drama that did not do well at the box office thanks to its weak script and screenplay.
It is 33 years since Awwal Number hit the theatres but is remembered as one of the early entrants to the cricket-themed genre of Bollywood films.
Director: Dev Anand
* Dev Anand as DIG Vikram Singh
* Aamir Khan as Sunny
* Ekta Sohini as Aarti
* Neeta Puri as Maria
* Aditya Pancholi as Ranveer Singh
* Kulbhushan Kharbanda as Kundi
Yeh hai cricket (Awwal Number, 1990) Bappi Lahiri / Amit Khanna / Udit Narayan, Bappi Lahiri, Amit Kumar
Lagaan, the large canvas sports flick, comes immediately to mind while talking about the best Hindi films on cricket. Written and directed by Ashutosh Gowariker, Lagaan is a period film based in the British Raj — the story of a small band of enterprising villagers who take on the might of the British regiment and face them in a game of cricket.
The tyrannical Captain Russell (Paul Blackthorne) and Bhuvan (Aamir Khan) lead their teams of players in a high-stakes one-off match that will decide if the villagers, grappling with drought, can get a two-year reprieve from tax (lagaan).
The way Bhuvan bands together a group of untrained, awkward and uneducated villagers to train in cricket is an inspiring journey. The film showcases the feudal society, the imperial British rulers and their oppressive ways and the spunk of a rustic but courageous band of villagers — all in the scope of a cricket match. The 3-day match itself takes up a better part of the second half.
Lagaan was nominated for two Academy Awards, Best Foreign Language Film and Best Original Score. With a 3h 44m runtime, it is one of the longest movies in Bollywood.
Director: Ashutosh Gowariker
* Aamir Khan as Bhuvan Latha (captain and all-rounder)
* Gracy Singh as Gauri
* Rachel Shelley as Elizabeth Russell
* Paul Blackthorne as Captain Andrew Russell
* Suhasini Mulay as Yashoda Maa, Bhuvan’s mother
* Kulbhushan Kharbanda as Raja Puran Singh Chawla
Chale Chalo (Lagaan, 2001) A.R. Rahman / Javed Akhtar / Srinivas, A.R. Rahman
Top-rated by the biggest critics, pages and cricketers, Iqbal is a heartfelt Bollywood sports drama. Directed by Nagesh Kukunoor, and produced by Subash Ghai, Iqbal is the story of a speech and hearing-impaired boy from a remote Indian village and his unwavering passion for cricket as he aims to play for the Indian National Cricket team. If you have a love for cricket and this genre is your favourite, then Iqbal is a movie you can’t miss.
Shreyas Talpade as Iqbal is truly outstanding and must be appreciated for his stellar performance. The narrative beautifully captures Iqbal’s relentless pursuit of his dreams and his overcoming obstacles and societal prejudices. The supporting cast, including ace actor Naseeruddin Shah as Iqbal’s coach, who is known for his television programmes on cricket as well, delivers realistic performances as well. A highlight of the film is a special appearance of cricket legend Kapil Dev. The song Aashayein is an inspirational song and not surprisingly, became very popular.
Director: Nagesh Kukunoor
* Shreyas Talpade as Iqbal, a bowler
* Naseeruddin Shah as Mohit Mishra
* Girish Karnad as Guruji
* Shweta Basu Prasad as Khadija
* Yatin Karyekar as Anwar Saeed
Aashayein (Iqbal, 2005) Salim Sulaiman / Irfan Siddique / KK & Salim Merchant, Chorus
Inspired by true events, Azhar unfolds the story of the life of former Indian cricket captain Mohammad Azharuddin. The film also drew criticism for its fictionalized interpretation of events. Emraan Hashmi plays Azhar.
Some of the film’s sequences were shot at Lord’s Cricket Ground. While the film boasts of strong production values and engaging cricket sequences, it fails to present a comprehensive and unbiased portrayal of Azharuddin’s life. Lack of depth in the narration, that ignores some major and unexplored aspects of Azhar’s checkered journey leaves unanswered loose ends. The courtroom drama is a highlight of the film.
Director: Tony D’Souza
* Emraan Hashmi as Mohammad Azharuddin
* Nargis Fakhri as Sangeeta Bijlani, (second wife of Azharuddin)
* Lara Dutta as Meera Verma, the lawyer who prosecutes Azhar
* Prachi Desai as Naureen, the first wife of Azharuddin
* Kunaal Roy Kapur as Advocate Ramakanth Reddy
Jeetne ke liye (Azhar, 2016) Amaal Mallik / Kumaar / KK
Based on the life of India’s greatest cricket captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, MS Dhoni: The Untold Story, is a biopic of MS Dhoni (fondly called Mahi), the former Test, ODI and T20 captain of the Indian national cricket team. The film chronicles his life from his student days, through his days of struggle, of working in the Railways, his selection in the Indian cricket team and his successes as a top of the line cricketer. Under Dhoni’s captaincy, India won the 2007 T20 World Cup, the 2011 World Cup final and the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy.
Sushant Singh Rajput portrays Dhoni with remarkable finesse, capturing the essence of the cricketer’s demeanor and passion. The sensitive depiction of the difficulties, sacrifices and victories of Dhoni, laced with humour and pathos creates an entertaining film. The supporting cast including Anupam Kher as Paan Singh Dhoni (MS Dhoni’s Father), Disha Patani as Priyanka Jha, Mahi’s ex-girlfriend and Kiara Advani as Sakshi Singh Dhoni (née Rawat), Mahi’s wife come up with convincing performances.
Director: Neeraj Pandey
* Sushant Singh Rajput as Mahendra Singh Dhoni, aka MS Dhoni
* Zeeshan Nadaf as young Mahi
* Kiara Advani as Sakshi Singh Dhoni (Mahi’s wife)
* Disha Patani as Priyanka Jha (Mahi’s girlfriend)
* Anupam Kher as Paan Singh Dhoni (Mahi’s father)
Besabriyaan (MS Dhoni – The Untold Story, 2016) Amaal Mallik / Manoj Muntashir / Armaan Mallik
The Ranveer Singh & Deepika Padukone starrer 83 is based on the Indian cricket team’s epic victory of Prudential World Cup of 1983 when it rose from underdogs to world champions under Kapil Dev’s captaincy.
Written and directed by Kabir Khan, this movie depicts the story behind the victory of the Indian cricket team when it beat the world champions West Indies to lift the World Cup. Ranveer Singh plays the role of Kapil Dev.
The gripping film traces the journey, struggle and challenges faced by the Indian cricket team when they land in England to play the World Cup. With the right dose of cricketing action, humour and inspiring songs, it is easily one of the best real-life dramas made on cricket.
Ranveer Singh delivers a tour de force performance as Kapil Dev, effortlessly embodying his charisma and determination. The ensemble cast shines, bringing to life the camaraderie and individual stories of the team members.
Kapil Dev was quoted by Filmfare.com in an interview, “When I watched it for the first time, I was like okay this is a film and it did not impact me much. But when I watched it for the second time, I am anyway a very emotional person, and I just could not stop crying. I thought what a film it was, that’s how we played.” He said he couldn’t watch the movie for the third time and had to get up and leave. He went on to say that “98 percent of the movie is accurate, with only the people and settings modified, but not the story.”
With meticulous attention to detail and a powerful narrative, 83 captures India’s collective pride. 83 won the National Film Award for Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment.
Director: Kabir Khan
* Ranveer Singh as Kapil Dev
* Deepika Padukone as Romi Dev (Wife of Kapil Dev)
* Jiiva as Krishnamachari Srikkanth, aka “Cheeka”
* Pankaj Tripathi as PR Man Singh: Indian Cricket Team’s Manager at the 1983 World Cup
Lehra do (83, 2021) Pritam/ Kausar Munir / Arijit Singh
The Taapsee Pannu starrer Shabaash Mithu is an inspiring sports biopic on Mithali Raj, the Indian Women’s Cricket Team’s captain who played an important role in test cricket and ODI.
The film portrays the struggles of Mithali, her rise and events of her life’s journey and how she led India to the finals in the 2017 Women’s Cricket World Cup. The screenplay strikes a perfect balance between emotional depth and sporting action, immersing the audience in Mithali’s world. Shabaash Mithu delivers a powerful message of women’s empowerment. Srijit Mukherji’s crisp direction makes this movie one of the most popular cricket movies in Bollywood.
Director: Srijit Mukherji
* Taapsee Pannu as Mithali Raj
* Inayat Verma as Young Mithali Raj
* Mumtaz Sorcar as Jhorna Ghosh
* Vijay Raaz as Sampath, (Mithali’s coach)
Hindustan meri jaan (Shabaash Mithu, 2022) Amit Trivedi / Swanand Kirkire / Amit Trivedi, Kailash Kher
Kaun Pravin Tambe? is a true story that celebrates the spirit of cricket and the resilience of a man who never gave up on his dreams. Shreyas Talpade plays the titular role of real-life cricketer Pravin Tambe, a leg-spinner who made his IPL debut at the age of 41, after playing tennis-ball and club cricket for two decades. The film captures the highs and lows of Tambe’s journey, from his humble beginnings to his unexpected fame, of making it to the top league level without first-class or international match experience.
The film also explores the themes of passion, perseverance, patience, determination and destiny. The film is a tribute to the unsung heroes of cricket, who play for the love of the game. The film also features some thrilling cricket sequences, shot with realism and flair. The film is a must-watch for cricket fans and anyone who believes in chasing their dreams.
Ghoomer seamlessly blends the world of cricket with the heartwarming journey of a young, determined athlete. A powerful sports drama, directed by R Balki, captures the essence of passion, struggle, and triumph.
When Anina, a talented upcoming batsman loses her right hand in an accident, a caustic, failed cricketer (Abhishek Bachchan) helps her turn her game around and kindles new hopes of success. The film’s charismatic lead, played by a breakout talent Saiyami Kher, delivers a compelling performance, drawing the audience into her pursuit of excellence in the male-dominated cricket world. The beautifully shot cricket sequences and emotional depth of the characters make Ghoomer successfully celebrate the spirit of sportsmanship and empowerment.
Director: R Balki
* Shabana Azmi
* Abhishek Bachchan
* Saiyami Kher
* Angad Bedi
All Rounder is a thrilling Indian sports drama directed by Mohan Kumar. The film revolves around the world of cricket and showcases the struggles and triumphs of a talented young cricketer as he navigates challenges, both on and off the pitch. With elements of romance and intense cricketing action, the movie explores the pursuit of dreams, love, and the dedication required to be an all-rounder in the game of life.
Director: Mohan Kumar
* Kumar Gaurav
* Rati Agnihotri
* Vinod Mehra
* Shakti Kapoor
Stumped is a comedy-drama film directed by Gaurab Pandey. It is a heartwarming story about a group of senior citizens who come together to form a cricket team. Despite their age and physical limitations, they set out to relive their cricketing dreams. The film combines humor and emotion as it follows the journey of these spirited individuals.
Director: Gaurab Pandey
* Raveena Tandon
* Alyy Khan
* Yashpal Sharma
Hattrick is a sports comedy film directed by Milan Luthria. The story revolves around cricket and how it impacts the lives of four sets of individuals. It explores the superstitions, emotions, and dreams associated with cricket and how it brings people together in unexpected ways.
Director: Milan Luthria
* Nana Patekar
* Danny Denzongpa
* Kunal Kapoor
Chain Kulii Ki Main Kulii is a heartwarming story of an orphan boy who dreams of becoming a cricketer with the help of a magic bat. Rahul Bose plays the captain of the Indian cricket team and Zain Khan Durrani plays the orphan boy Karan who dreams to have parents and to be a world-class cricketer like his idol Kapil Dev. A cameo appearance of the legendary Kapil Dev is a highlight of the film. For those who have loved Amitabh Bachchan’s superhit Satte Pe Satta would know that this was the gibberish war cry of the seven harum-scarum brothers.
Director: Karanjeet Saluja
* Rahul Bose
* Zain Khan Durrani
* Susheel Parashar
* Rajesh Khera
Meerabai Not Out is a sports comedy film directed by Chandrakant Kulkarni. The film follows the life of a schoolteacher who is a die-hard cricket fan and is obsessed with the legendary cricketer Sachin Tendulkar. Her life revolves around cricket, and she is determined to meet Tendulkar. The film explores her eccentric love for the sport and how it impacts her personal life.
Director: Chandrakant Kulkarni
* Mandira Bedi
* Eijaz Khan
* Anupam Kher
* Mahesh Manjrekar
Veera is a talented cricket player who dreams of playing for India, but faces gender discrimination. She disguises herself as a man named Veer and joins a team led by Rohan, an English county captain. Rohan falls in love with Veera as herself, while Veera falls in love with him as both Veer and Veera. Will Veera reveal her true identity and win Rohan’s heart? Find out in this comedy of errors and cricket.
Director: Anurag Singh
* Rani Mukerji
* Shahid Kapoor
* Sherlyn Chopra
* Anupam Kher
* Dalip Tahil
Patiala House is a sports drama film directed by Nikhil Advani. It tells the story of Gattu, a young man with dreams of playing cricket for England but is held back by family traditions. The film explores his struggle to pursue his passion while dealing with family expectations and cultural differences.
Director: Nikhil Advani
* Akshay Kumar
* Anushka Sharma
* Rishi Kapoor
Ferrari Ki Sawaari is a heartwarming family film directed by Rajesh Mapuskar. The story revolves around a father’s determination to fulfill his son’s dream of playing cricket at Lord’s Cricket Ground in England. To make this dream come true, he embarks on an adventurous journey with a Ferrari car. The film is a touching tale of the sacrifices and love between a father and son.
Director: Rajesh Mapuskar
* Sharman Joshi
* Boman Irani
* Ritwik Sahore
* Vidya Balan
Kai Po Che is a coming-of-age drama directed by Abhishek Kapoor. The film is based on Chetan Bhagat’s novel The 3 Mistakes of My Life and revolves around the lives of three friends as they navigate their way through life’s challenges and dreams. It touches upon friendship, love, and the backdrop of cricket. The story follows their journey from starting a cricket academy to dealing with societal and political issues.
Director: Abhishek Kapoor
* Sushant Singh Rajput
* Rajkummar Rao
* Amit Sadh
Sachin: A Billion Dreams is a captivating documentary that delves into the life and career of cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar. The film traces his journey from a young boy with a dream to becoming one of the world’s greatest cricketers. Through personal anecdotes, archival footage, and interviews, it offers an intimate look at his extraordinary career, the challenges he faced, and the unyielding passion that made him an icon in the world of sports.
Director: James Erskine
* Sachin Tendulkar
* MS Dhoni
* Virender Sehwag
Jersey is a sports drama about Arjun, a former cricketer who quits the game after a setback. Years later, he decides to make a comeback at the age of 36 to fulfill his son’s wish of getting a jersey and to prove his worth. Despite health challenges, which he chooses to keep a secret, his talent and determination take him to a match-winning stage. Cricket action was choreographed and directed by Rob Miller of ReelSports.
Director: Gowtam Tinnanuri
* Shahid Kapoor
* Mrunal Thakur
* Pankaj Kapur
(All pictures are courtesy Internet)
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