Mumbai, 04 Feb 2020 21:25 IST
The film, co-directed by brothers Tathagat and Navagat Prakash, narrates the challenges the players face despite being world champions.
It was a joyous but muted celebration in the cricket stadium as the Indian team won its fourth World Cup title at Sharjah, in the United Arab Emirates, in 2018. No, we aren’t referring to the incredible adulation that national team captain Virat Kohli and his players receive all over the world.
This documentary by brothers Tathagat and Navagat Prakash refers to the ‘other men in blue’, the players of India’s blind cricket team. The nearly 30-minute film spotlights these very deserving sports heroes, both men and women, who are going out and fulfilling their dream of playing cricket professionally.
From little villages and towns all over India, there are many visually impaired boys and girls who want to live life normally like others their age, and that includes playing sports. The Other Men In Blue highlights a few of the star players of the Indian blind cricket team, from captain Ajay Reddy to Deepak Malik and Rambir Singh.
These dedicated, talented players manage work and play together, constantly training to stay at the top of their game. Their hard work has brought India many trophies, including four world championships. That’s two more than what the national men's team has brought home; yet the world-record holding team struggles for recognition.
The Other Men In Blue focuses on Reddy and Malik as we travel to their homes and meet their families and see how a childhood accident changed their lives irreparably. Reddy was four and Malik, seven, when they were injured in one eye. But they have not let this hamper their ambitions.
Both are star players on the Indian cricket team and incredible mentors to the rest of the side. Donning the blue jersey has given them a purpose and it is one that takes them through life.
Despite their positivity, however, Tathagat and Navagat Prakash also highlight the many ways in which the team lacks recognition and funds.
The Cricket Association for the Blind in India (CABI) handles the Indian team, but it does not receive the monetary support and stability that other international teams which come under the World Blind Cricket Council (WBCC) do.
The documentary gives viewers a primer about the game and its slightly different rules. The ball the players use has bearings inside to make a sound, and bowlers say ‘play’ before bowling underarm. There are three different categories for the players who are sorted through their ability of sight. Category B1, in which the players can’t see at all, is given more concessions.
We also meet members of the Delhi women’s cricket team, who are eager to make their mark. Like Ajay and Deepak, their personal stories also move you. Luckily, the players surround themselves with a good support system and they have each other’s back each time the going gets tough.
The Prakash brothers rightly keep the focus of the film where it belongs, not just on the game, but on the endearing players, who are the heart of the sport.
Produced by the Public Service Broadcasting Trust (PSBT) and Doordarshan, The Other Men In Blue narrates both their challenges and their overriding passion which triumphs despite all the odds.
The Other Men In Blue was screened in the Prism – International section at the 16th Mumbai International Film Festival on 31 January.
Related topicsMumbai International Film Festival
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