For over two decades an entire nation has lived, loved, rejoiced and despaired along with one man— Sachin Tendulkar. You will soon get a chance to go through each moment once again with the master blaster. ‘Sachin - A billion dreams” transports you again to that world, where cricket and Sachin were synonymous with—well everything. This is no over the top story; its not a Bollywood biopic either. There is no hunky, good looking A-list actor in starring role. There is no place where fact and fiction merge. Its all true, it is all real. As real as the chants of ‘Sachin, Sachin’ that reverberate through the film.
Come May 26, each person who has lived and experienced Indian cricket in the Sachin Tendulkar era, will get a chance to relive that journey with Tendulkar himself. From his life as the naughty kid playing pranks and being handed his first willow from Kashmir by his elder sister in the Sahawaas society in Bandra, to never seen before images, footage of life in Tendulkar household through this journey, the movie has it all. Rare footage recovered from the maestro’s elder brother Ajit’s cache of recorded VHS tapes, almost forgotten and damaged is there as is the only recorded video of his father, the late Prof. Ramesh Tendulkar speaking about his son. It is above all film that moves you to the core. You would think you know everything about the genius cricketer, yet you will discover so much more. His family speaks to you as do his friends, teammates and rivals.
Tendulkar—known for being a perfectionist with his cricket and life, shared the reasons, challenges that went into bringing his life on the silver screen. But there was no interference in film making—he let the production team take over.
Above all, he underlined the need to keep it real. No hyperbole, no exaggeration. Keeping it grounded for that was what his father’s life lesson to him. It’s a dedication to his fans who have shared each moment with him, it makes them part of the movie, for Sachin Tendulkar would not be the persona he is without the people who have loved him the most—his fans, family, friends and cricket fraternity. It's an emotional roller coaster, Tendulkar reveals he has shed tears or tried not to each time he has seen the movie rushes.
Q) How difficult was it to bring your life on the big screen?
We have actually jumped into the pool. Now you have to swim. We have tried our best. It's like preparing for a match, tick all the boxes as far as preparations were concerned. Exactly that is what we have done here. We felt we should do it from our heart and try and be as genuine and real as possible because the whole film is about my real journey. There are no fictional bits and pieces added. My whole life has been in front of the world. Yes, we have included a few things which are really private and personal—the family moments—and people will get to see that. To be able to relive this journey has been special for me. Normally, the tendency is to look at the next game and that is how I have always looked at home. I was brought up thinking about the next game, let the rest of the world talk about the last game, so here I was talking about everything which was in the past, this is a new experience to be part of this film.
Q) On being involved with the music in the film
What does one tell A.R. Rahman? It’s like A.R. Rahman telling me how to bat. I don’t want to interfere in his profession, he’s the boss there. But we used Dire Straits. He kept bettering the track every time we heard it. “We’ll do better,” he said, and it kept getting better and better. When I went to his house in Powai, I heard the final version along with him on his system.
Q) Who among the Tendulkar family was more curious to see the film?
Possibly, me (laughs). I wanted to know what’s happening. All of us have seen it and they are comfortable with what was shown.
Q) On missing his mentor and first manager Mark Masceranhas while going through the initial part of his career.
Mark was more like family, not just today, but I have missed him on a number of occasions where we would always talk. He was a larger than life personality. If I am not mistaken, I was the first cricketer to be signed by a company like this. Today, it’s a normal thing, but way back in 1995, people didn’t know what was in store for me at that stage. People said, “Why does he want to do such things, let him just focus on cricket,” failing to realise that I did this so that I could be focused on cricket. I didn’t want to waste time negotiating contracts and then making sure this clause should be there. I didn’t want to waste my energy there. I wanted all my energy to be channelised only on cricket and nothing else. My family took all that trouble of going through the papers. I used to just sign the deal. I did not have anything else to do. Mark, being an ardent fan of Indian cricket, never ever forced me to skip my practice sessions and come and shoot. In fact, he would tell them that he is not going to miss his practice sessions, so we will have to work around that. We were on the same page, it really worked well. Today, I really miss him.
Q) On any scenes that made him emotional
Yes, even when we screened the movie in front of the Indian Armed Forces, I got emotional. There are moments and I hope that people also will feel that, but yes I have possibly seen this movie 20 times. Even while talking about those things I got emotional.
Q) What movies do you like?
I watch all sorts of movies, right from my childhood days. But then I didn’t watch any English movies, very few. But Marathi and Hindi for sure. Over a period of time I started watching English movies also. In school days we wanted action movies, so Top Gun and those kind of movies. In fact, we friends get together and watch old Marathi movies. We do that and in fact we are planning in the next few days to watch some old Marathi movies like Ashi Hi Banwa Banwi and Tharatharat.
Q) On watching movie with his coach Ramakant Achrekar sir
Sir will be watching the movie tomorrow. Without him, nothing can happen.
Q) On anything missing in the film
That is for James (director) to answer (laughs). They had 10,000 hours of footage and I really admire their skills because how do you make sense of something over 35 years and to squeeze that to two hours and 17 minutes.
Q) On interfering in the film
They have taken over. I spoke and they have taken over. This is the first innings that I have played, now you need to play the second innings.
Q) On film’s locations
The film was shot in my house. It’s not a studio. So what you see, a five-year-old Sachin in my flat in Bandra’s Sahitya Sah Awaas. You see Sachin, and Ajit trying to teach me how to play. It’s the actual ground where I grew up. Everything is as real as it can get. I cannot go back to a five-year-old so it’s something that we had to manage.
Q) On personal aspects in the film
My family members are talking. My wife is talking. You will also see a lot of personal things. When you leave the theatre, you will say stuff like 'I never expected such things'.
Q) Did he ever get carried away by fame at young age?
Earlier in my life when I started playing for India, my father very nicely had his own ways of putting things to me, the message he gave me was: Everything in life is temporary. That time we were talking about 10-15 years. Nobody knew my career would go for 24 years. Plenty has happened and plenty more will happen after your cricketing years, so it’s easy to get carried away. I can understand that you are only 16 and so many things have happened. Your final destination was playing cricket for India. But to me the journey has just begun. You’ve just opened the door now. Now people will see what you will do. So think that this is your start, not your end. Try and be a nice person first of all. Respect what you have been given and worship that. Don’t find shortcuts. Now I try and do that.
Even after your cricketing days, people will like you and I want people to say that. I want people to want you. People should not say when he is leaving but how long he can stay, and that is only because the person that you are.
Q) On how he decided what aspects of his personal life should come into the film
It boils down to the comfort level, I am a private person, my family is also. What I am trying to say, they have always chosen to stay in the background, they are comfortable where they are and they are happy. For all of them the greater satisfaction is to see happiness on my face and whether I am happy and I have been able to do something and that gave them happiness and satisfaction. It has not been easy on them, I have been walking alone but they are with me.
Q) Do Arjun and Sarah like the movie?
They liked the movie and I got green signal from them.... For the world, I am a cricketer, for them I am there as father first, so how they react was important for me. When their reaction was positive, I said James has done a good job...
Q) Will audience need of handkerchiefs?
When I showed the movie to some people, they already, three-four times (they cried), it also happens to me, but I control, but from inside I am gone (become emotional).
Q) Seeing footage of TV first interview, how nostalgic did you get?
Not much has changed, I still get nervous. It was something new, I did not know all those things, with Tom (Alter) also, I remember this was immediately after I was invited to bat against Kapil Dev. And everyone.. Dilip Vengskar had invited me, and I batted and Tom had asked me how it was facing Kapil Dev and my answer was he was also good ...that was my answer! (laughs)
Q) There is a shot of you saying something to Virat when you got out and he walked in during the World Cup 2011 final. What did you tell him?
I told Virat that the ball is still swinging. Because dew was there the ball had kind of stopped swinging, but that ball swung, so I wanted to warn him that the ball was still swinging.
Q) Is it true you were disappointed for not getting selected for West Indies tour in 1989 before the debut tour of Pakistan?
Yes, I clearly remember. Raj Singh Dunarpur was the chairman of selection committee at that time. Raj bhai clearly told me to focus on my exams. This was during semi finals of Ranji Trophy. We were playing Delhi and I was having net session in the morning. Clearly remember Raj bhai walking up to me and said 'Sachin, after this Ranji Trophy, you focus on your SSC exams, you will play for India, but you are not going to West Indies'.
Q) On disappointment of not winning World Cup in 2003
I feel if we were allowed to play that match today, the players will approach that game differently. We were all charged up. We went out to field and right from over one, it was that big movement, unbelievably charged up. If same players are given opportunity, we will approach it differently, even if the the target is that; differently (approach) only because of introduction of T20. In those days 358 looked herculean task, today also it will be, but it is closer than 2003, you still get to see people chasing 434. We have also on number of occasions got 325-340 runs and that is because the format has changed, the rules have changed little bit, the conditions also, I feel, have changed (than) what we got there, I just feel the mindset has changed because of introduction of T20 and the calculations are different.