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Bandon Mein Tha Dum review: Neeraj Pandey’s retelling of Team India’s greatest comeback is riveting

Release Date: 16 Jun 2022

Cinestaan Rating

  • Direction:
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Keyur Seta

The show looks back on a depleted and injury-hit India team's dramatic Test series win in Australia in the 2020-21 season.

Team India’s Test cricket victory over Australia for the 2020-21 Border-Gavaskar Trophy has all the ingredients of an entertaining potboiler. Earlier this year, Sony Six, official broadcaster of the series, came up with a documentary titled Down Underdogs: India’s Greatest Comeback for SonyLIV. Yet, filmmaker Neeraj Pandey’s version, Bandon Mein Tha Dum, holds its own. While the Sony Six version was more entertaining, Pandey’s documentary has greater depth.

For those who may not follow Test cricket closely, India not only lost the first match in Australia but got bowled out in the second innings for a humiliating 36, their lowest score. And it had been announced even before the series began that India's captain and best player Virat Kohli would be returning home after the first Test for the birth of his first child. Yet the team, which was also hobbled by injuries to almost half the squad over the time it was in Australia, managed to come back from such a low and win the series 2-1.

The film features a retelling of the series by stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane, Indian players Cheteshwar Pujara, R Ashwin, Rishabh Pant, Hanuma Vihari, Mohammed Siraj and Washington Sundar, then Australia captain Tim Paine and his successor Pat Cummins, and cricket experts Paddy Upton, Peter Lalor and Bharat Sundaresan.

The documentary starts off in a random manner. We are straightaway introduced to the experts speaking about the first match without any sort of build-up. However, the film thereafter gets on track and then there is no looking back.

The turning point of the first Test was the moment when Rahane ran captain Kohli out. This event is presented as a scene right out of a dramatic feature film. For once, you forget that this is a documentary.

Heroes being down and out at the start of a film makes for a good build-up. India getting bowled out for 36 was not just humiliating but shocking. The film uses this episode well to build its narrative, offering an insider's view of what the team went through and what it did to pull itself out of the hole. The audience is also familiarized with the tactics to get some of the Australian batsmen out and some of the masterstrokes that we did not guess while watching the series.

Bandon Mein Tha Dum goes on to present India’s comeback in the matches that followed in a manner that is bound to overwhelm the viewer. India winning the second Test at Melbourne after being dismissed for 36 in the previous game is reminiscent of the recreation of India's match against Zimbabwe in the 1983 cricket World Cup in Kabir Khan’s 83 (2021). That game set the tone for India to win the World Cup, and Melbourne has much the same effect on the team in this series. Another similarity: on both occasions, it was the captain (Kapil Dev in 1983, Rahane in 2021) who led from the front.

India drawing the third Test at Sydney was as good as winning the match after a number of players were injured and Pujara took plenty of blows on his body to protect his wicket. Bandon Mein Tha Dum presents this part too like an intense feature film. 

Indian cricket fans became emotional after the victory in the fourth Test at the Gabba in Brisbane and Pandey and his team present the game, especially its climactic moments, well to close the film on a delightful note.

Every speaker helps to recreate the series. Ashwin, Pant and Siraj stand out as their conversation is more like candid living-room talk. While the temptation to use a soaring background score must have been great, the music is used smartly and only when needed.

The film maintains its tempo well, except for the opening, which could have been crisper. Also, it would have been better if each episode ended inside 45 minutes. Otherwise, Bandon Mein Tha Dum is a treat for lovers of Test cricket.

Bandon Mein Tha Dum is now available on Voot Select.


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