If not the traditional theatrical audience, the Srijit Mukherji helmed long due biographical film on India’s most successful batter is likely to appease women cricketers and all aspiring female athletes.
By Mayur Lookhar
Shabaash Mithu was in order recently when the legendary Indian batter Mithali Raj announced her retirement from all forms of cricket. The 39-year-old finished as the highest scorer in One-Day International cricket with 7805 runs in 232 matches at an impressive average of 50.68. It is only apt for her biopic to be called Shabaash Mithu .
Test cricket is the pinnacle of men’s cricket, but in the women’s circuit, Tests have been far and few. Leave aside Test cricket, but in the Indian context, the women’s game has only gained some popularity since the women in blue made the ICC ODI World Cup final in 2017, and ended up as finalist again in the T20I World Cup in Australia in 2020.
The one who for long carried the baton for Indian women’s cricket was Mithali Raj. The long due biographical film on Raj is finally set to be released on 15 July. Acclaimed actor Taapsee Pannu gets to play the legendary cricketer. And based on the trailer, she looks par for the course. More than any individual tale, Shabaash Mithu promises to tell most women cricketers’ story. Long hailed as a gentleman’s game, the women naturally had to work their up to gain respect. And often the discrimination begins at home where the brother is deemed fit to play sport. However, the local coach [Vijay Raaz] spots the genuine talent in Mithali than her brother Mithun.
Sports biographies now have a set formula to them. Humble background, social biases, blood, sweat, toil, bureaucracy, politics, hurdles after hurdles before the big dream is achieved. But what makes the trailer impressive is how director Srijit Mukherji has chosen to tell Indian women’s cricket story through the eyes, voice and more importantly through the bat of Raj. A women of few words, Raj is known for letting her bat talk. Though too, early, Pannu appears to imbibe that calm, intense spirit of Raj.
The one scene that hit our senses is during Raj’s childhood days. The coach hammering a nail into little Mithali’s shoe. Phew, what is that for? The trailer suggests that the 2017 ODI World Cup dream run will be the high point in this film. It also features the much publicized episode of Indian women cricketers having to wear second-hand jerseys made from he disposed materials of their male counterparts. The particular jersey was used by the men’s team during the 2003 ODI World Cup in South Africa. Wasn’t Jagmohan Dalmiya the BCCI [Board of Control for Cricket in India] chief then?
The makers have given a catchline of unheard story of women in blue and the trailer promises more than Raj’s story. A good trailer is only half the battle won. If not the traditional theatrical audience, but cricket fans, aspiring women cricketers or all aspiring sportswomen will be waiting to seek inspiration and also say Shabaash Mithu (Well done, Mithu).
Watch the trailer below.