“We are the country with the world’s second largest population, but still we hardly manage to get medals” : This is the common reaction from an Indian after taking a quick look at the medal table of any international sporting event.
From Asian Games to Olympics, the journey has been really ‘slow and steady’ but without winning any race :- Slow in getting more athletes to take part & Steady in maintaining the status quo of our ranks at these events.
It is equally heartening to see that we continue to get accolades and maintain a good track record in some selective sports.
In the recent times the focus have started shifting to other sports as well. Thanks to the commendable performances from some individual sports personalities.
Sports is a part of the educational system but then it is only a handful of the youngsters who actually pursue this as a career option. In this as well the amount of female participation is very minimal.
When we look back into the athletes / sports personalities who have won medals and got accolades, the count is not encouraging. The fingers in our hand is more than enough to recollect and count these names. This doesn’t only mean that there are not enough people doing good in the sports but also the fact that the person doesn’t get the required media coverage or state / national level recognition.
In the last decade or so we have seen biopics of Indian athletes, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Dangal, Mary Kom, Gold, Soorma, etc., bringing out the stories behind the achievement of sports personalities. These movies gave goosebumps to the audience.
There were other sports based movies like Chak De, Lagaan, etc. which gave us the feeling that that team effort can take you places. But the Indian movie related to sports which I recollect and still watch with all the eagerness is “Jo Jeetha Wohi Sikhandhar”. This movie definitely was a launch pad for Aamir Khan. The first image that comes in to your mind when you hear the name of the movie is the cycling competition. Though the competition was limited to school level sports , it was indeed a very refreshing movie. So when I heard that there is a new movie which is getting released in Kerala with ‘Cycle’ as its main lead, I was curious to know the storyline.
“Finals” is a movie about the cycling prodigy Alice Varghese who has an aim of winning the Medal in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. It is a great time for someone to come out with a sports related topic. The actress , Rajisha Vijayan, who pulls off cycling the race track scenes with utmost ease was not even knowing to ride a cycle before the start of shooting the movie. Suraj Venjaramoodu , the actor who effortlessly manages to do any role given to him, plays the dad’s part. Arun P R in his debut directorial has brought out a story which was close to his heart for the last 12 years.
I will quote the wordings of Ullas Krishnan, who is a movie buff & a sports enthusiast:
“Arun has been working in theatre for long time & has been a promising writer for some time. With a strong humanitarian view and always on the lookout for using art as a medium to convey a strong message, I am sure his debut directorial is also going to be an engaging experience for all the viewers. A movie on Cycling is so rare not just in Malayalam but even in Indian cinema, so I hope & pray for all the success for the movie for many sports dramas to come”.
The way in which Arun has brought out the sacrifices of parents who support their children to pursue dreams is noteworthy. It also touches upon the struggle of a sports person to get past the ‘sports system’, which has it’s fair share of hand in the current status quo.
“Each medal we win is to repay : our family members, fellow people and banks” – the harsh reality.
The song “Parakkam, Parakkam” is very apt to those who dream about following their passion, especially in sports:
“If you have the courage to choose the right track then no one can stop you from Flying, Exploring the never ending shores & Achieving your Dreams”.
PT Usha, Shiny Abraham, Anju Boby George – these are the athletes who created a name for Kerala in the World Sporting Map. Kerala has been producing a lot of sporting talents in the recent years as well. I hope the day is not far away when once again a Sports person from Kerala will get to wear the Olympic Medal.
The first Olympic Medal was won by Manuel Fredrick, the goal keeper who made sure that India won the bronze medal in Hockey in the 1972 Munich Olympics.
The female sports personalities from India are spreading their wings wide & flying high.
It was Dipa Karmakar who showed us that it is possible to win medals in gymnastics.
Saina & Sindhu added feathers to our cap with their badminton dominance.
Mary Kom boxed her way through to glory.
The wrestlers : Geeta Phogat, Babita Phogat, Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat, Babita Kumari : The names that send shivers up the spine of the opponents.
Hima Das , the running machine, is dominating the international tracks.
Dutee Chand, Preeja Sreedharan showing their prowess in the track & field events.
Dipika Pallikal & Joshna Chinappa : The queens of Indian Squash contingent.
Manasi Joshi, the para athlete, showed us that determination and courage to choose the right track will take you to places.
There are many more names as well who are doing wonders in Sports for India. The list is getting longer day by day.
But the whole idea of sports can do wonders as a career option fizzles out the moment you step out of the cinema or in a day or two after watching the movie.
I hope the tide changes & movies like “Finals” will be an inspiration for many parents and youngsters to look at Sports as a mainstream career option. Also hope our people in charge of Sports ministry take corrective steps, make it more transparent & help upcoming talents. It has to be a combination of the above two to get us more medals.
I feel this was the right time to launch a movie focusing on Cycling. India has just started winning medals in cycling in the world circuit. Esow Alben , part of the Indian junior team, is literally firing up the cycling tracks. He along with Rojit Singh & Ronaldo Singh won the first ever international Gold medal in cycling for India in the recently concluded Junior Track World Championships.
It is our turn to say Thank you Arun for this Onam treat. Kudos to the whole team who were involved in the making of Finals.
Hope to see the Indian flag moving up & hear the National Anthem play a lot many times in the future sporting events across the globe. It is time to Cycle in to the Future & Rewrite the History of Sports with the tricolour.