Struggles, triumphs of Indian women cricketers in docu-drama

August 3rd, 2010 - 1:34 pm ICT by IANS  

By Radhika Bhirani
New Delhi, Aug 3 (IANS) They get Rs.2,500 per match and often travel in unreserved train compartments. When the Indian women’s cricket team played the 2005 World Cup finals in South Africa, cricket historian Sunil Yash Kalra decided to make a docu-drama on their lives highlighting their struggles and triumphs.

“Poor Cousins of Million Dollar Babies” is Kalra’s way of conveying how just the passion for the sport drives the women’s cricket team without receiving the perks that are showered on the men’s cricket team.

“I’ve been following women’s cricket for many years now. They achieved milestones even before the men did. But it is just for the passion for cricket and love for their country that they continue to play. It’s just fantastic,” Kalra told IANS.

“If a male cricketer receives Rs.250,000 for a match, a female player gets Rs.2,500. They travel for their matches in unreserved compartments. It’s nothing comparable; still they are happy to play and this is what I wish to highlight in the film,” he said.

Researched, scripted and filmed by Kalra, the docu-drama also captures the camaraderie between former captain Anjum Chopra and current skipper Jhulan Goswami, and former vice-captain Rumeli Dhar and present vice-captain Amita Sharma.

The 27-minute film was shot over a span of four years in South Africa, Australia, England, West Indies and India, and includes footage from various matches as well as even from the girls’ changing room.

“My film primarily highlights the inter-personal relationships between the players, their thrill of playing for India, their feeling when they played at the Lord’s stadium and other such moments,” explained Kalra, who wants the film to travel to various international film festivals.

Though the project has been ready for a long time, he couldn’t find any sponsors for it. Now Bava Mahdoom, director of Naftogaz India, a contractor in the oil and gas business, came forward to sponsor it and ensure that it “reaches the audience and the right people”.

Said Mahdoom: “I am not getting into any mainstream film production with this documentary. It’s the best I could do to promote women’s cricket in the country. It is like a social cause for me. Women’s cricket is going unnoticed and I think video communication of their issues will help boost their morale as well as (change) the sports authorities’ way of looking at them.”

Anjum Chopra, who has played for India for the past 15 years, was also actively involved in the making of “Poor Cousins of Million Dollar Babies” and feels the presence of a sponsor now will “give a fillip to the project”.

“We are ranked third in the world for women’s cricket and, honestly, that isn’t bad. We like being part of the Indian team and enjoy playing the sport. ‘Chak De! India’ brought focus to women’s hockey in India, I hope our film, in its own little way, catches the attention of many people,” 33-year-old Anjum told IANS.

What excites Jhulan Goswami most about the film is that it captures the many moods of the girls off the field.

“Not many people know how much fun we have together. Amita is a constant source of laughter for all of us because she keeps cracking jokes and makes a tense moment very light…”

“Anjum is our senior. We have learnt a lot from her, but she is also a very great friend off the field. This side of us has never been shown, besides all the inside footage that the media never has,” said Goswami.

While hoping that “Poor Cousins of Million Dollar Babies” is received well at film festivals, Goswami is also nurturing a special wish of the Indian women’s cricket team lifting the World Cup when it takes place next in India in 2013.

(Radhika Bhirani can be contacted at radhika.b@ians.in)

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