The 50-overs cricket World Cup gets going in India on October 5, 2023. Coincidentally, the Tamil film 800, a biopic on Test cricket’s highest wicket-taker, Muthiah Muralitharan, is also releasing this week. As you can see, the flavour is decidedly cricket.
To go with it, we have shuffled together a bunch of movies based on the game of cricket and its famous players. To get a broad spectrum, we have included movies from 5 different languages (Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Telugu and Hindi). There is also one in English, by the way. But it is a documentary that also had a commercial release.
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Best Cricket movies
Here is my list of the best Best Cricket movies. As always, this is a personal opinion but feel free to chime in the comments below if you don’t agree.
Hindi | 2021
India’s triumph at the 1983 Prudential World Cup was a miracle. And the movie ’83 retells India’s epoch-making win, providing a window to many of the inside goose-flesh-inducing moments. If not for anything, the movie deserves a watch for the spirited way Ranveer Singh has played the fiery Kapil Dev. And Jiiva’s reprising of K Srikkanth will have you in splits.
Hindi | 2016
M S Dhoni: The Untold Story
From 1983 to 2011, and from Kapil Dev to M S Dhoni. This movie is about the architect of India’s triumph in 2011, Dhoni. The film primarily focuses on Dhoni’s early life and his achievements as an international player that reached its zenith with him hitting a memorable six to seal India’s win against Sri Lanka in the World Cup finals in 2011. It is essentially a feel-good movie, and Dhoni’s success is mostly the triumph of the underdog, which is the principal trope of all sports movies.
Malayalam | 2014
This is not to be confused with ’83, the Hindi movie. 1983 is a Malayalam movie about a man whose cricketing ambitions are nixed due to his life events and family situation. He eventually fulfils his dream vicariously through his son, who emerges through the ranks of junior cricket. The film has both emotional heft and sporting heave to work on all kinds of audiences. The movie won a clutch of Kerala State awards. A cricket movie doing well in Kerala showed how much the game has seeped into the State that otherwise has a rich history in football, athletics and volleyball.
Hindi | 2001
Verily a landmark movie in the annals of Indian cinema, as it was in the running for the Oscars under the Best Foreign Film Category. Set in the 1890s in India under the British yolk, it tells the story of a bunch of indomitable village folks who manage to get the better of the Englishmen and get exempted from paying high taxes. All thanks to a victory in an edge-of-the-seat thriller of a cricket match. It is a typical triumph of the underdog story. The songs in this film, set to tune by Oscar award winner AR Rahman, still reverberate across India even though its is 22 years since the film was released.
English | 2017
Sachin: A Billion Dreams
In the world of sports, there is only one statement that is never under dispute: Don Bradman is the greatest batsman ever to play the game. Okay, there is another indubitable fact: No cricketer is more loved by the fans in his country than Sachin Tendulkar is adored by millions and millions of Indians. Sachin: A Billion Dreams is a documentary on his life and sports. It is, yet again, a victory of the human spirit in the face of myriad pressures. This too is about his transformation from a prodigious youngster into a global cricketing icon. His was a stellar and long career, the likes of which are hard to come by. The documentary film was simultaneously shot in Hindi, Marathi and English.
Hindi | 2005
Most sports films follow a similar trope. A young sportsperson or a team overcoming enormous odds and triumphing, improbably at the last hurdle, in a catharsis of joy and hope. But a well-made sports movie never bores you out. You get sucked into the ‘process’. Iqbal is one such film which talks about the trials and tribulations of a deaf and mute boy. He is discouraged by those around him. But he chases his dream with dignity and passion. The rest is a good story.
Kannada | 2014
Sachin Tendulkar Alla
The title features the name of arguably India’s best batsman, Sachin Tendulkar, but it is not a sports film in its true sense. It is about the struggles of an autistic youngster who wants to make it big in cricket. In a large overview, the film has shades of the Hindi movie Iqbal, which chronicled the travails of a mute man who is an aspiring fast bowler. Sachin Tendulkar Alla also has walk-in roles for Javagal Srinath and Venkatesh Prasad, playing their real-life selves in the film.
Telugu | 2019
It is a poignant tale that combines Ranji Trophy cricket and some gritty family sentimental drama. It is about a man living in America, making a comeback in Ranji Trophy cricket in Hyderabad to fulfil his son’s wish. But why had he given up on playing cricket? Well, there is a tragic twist in the end. But the film ticks all the boxes for this genre and was one of the biggest hits in Telugu in the year it was released. The film also brings alive the ethos of regional cricket splendidly. The film was later reprised in Hindi.
Tamil | 2016
Chennai 600028 (2007) was a cult classic in the Tamil film industry. It was about tennis ball street cricket that Chennai is famous for. The film was a mad caper story of a bunch of no-hopers remaining, well, no-hopers but still winning a most memorable grudge match. The film’s main leads, a big gang of friends, come back in this second innings of the film for a cricketing reunion. Now, they are all grown up and married with kids and all. But the blithe spirit is still intact. 600028, which is a pin code of Chennai neighbourhood, remains a milestone in Tamil cinema, as to how amateur spirit can triumph both in films as well as cricket.
Hindi | 2022
Mithali Raj is a certified legend of Indian women’s cricket. The former Test and ODI captain of the women’s national cricket team had led India to the finals of the 2017 Women’s Cricket World Cup. The movie’s narrative is typically on her struggles to make it big in what is decidedly a male sport in India. Directed by Srijit Mukherjee and headlined by an impressive Taapsee Pannu, the film also highlights the problems of women’s cricket administration in India.
An engineer-turned-journalist, K Balakumar’s career began in print publications as a sports writer. That also opened doors for other journalistic avenues like films, music, finance, technology and politics, which nobody can escape in India. After 30 yrs in mainstream journalism, now a freelancer for various digital publications.