In India, there is no sport more revered than cricket, and no cricketer, rather sports personality, who is admired and worshiped like Sachin Tendulkar. It is not for nothing that he is called the ‘God of Cricket’. So when a film that captures the life of the globally renowned cricketer is made, it leads to much interest and excitement. As the biographical film, Sachin: A Billion Dreams, directed by British filmmaker James Erskine gets ready for release, we present excerpts from a conversation with the filmmaker and the man of the hour himself, Sachin Tendulkar. 

Sachin Tendulkar

Filmmaker James Erskine and Sachin Tendulkar

What is Sachin: A Billion Dreams about?

James Erskine – Sachin: A Billion Dreams has a very compelling and comprehensive narrative, and is based on a structure, but it is also emotional. After all, a film is an emotional journey and we wanted these emotions to be at the heart of the story. So we dovetailed between the great sporting moments and telling a sporting story to getting behind the scenes, by following him (Sachin Tendulkar) into the dressing room and into his home to see what it is like to live as Sachin Tendulkar, and what it is like to be Sachin Tendulkar.

The film is being released in 3 original versions – Hinglish, Hindi and Marathi with Sachin speaking in all these languages, which was important for us, because he can speak these languages. And then we also have two dubbed versions in Tamil and Telugu.

Let’s talk about the experience of making this movie.

Sachin Tendulkar – We have done everything that is possible; exactly like preparing for a match. You tick all the boxes as far as the preparations are concerned and then go out there and give your best. We felt that we should do it from our heart and try and be as genuine and real as possible. The whole film is about my real journey, so there are no fictional bits and pieces added here. My whole life has been in front of the world. Yes, we have included a few things that are really private and personal; family moments. So people will get to see that and to be able to relive the journey is special for me. It was a new experience to be part of this film.

As a family we have always chosen to stay away from the limelight ~ Sachin

How did the name of the movie come about?

James – We conducted a contest, and this was the name that came up. It was a very compelling name for the movie about one man and his dreams, and how that is the dream of one billion people.

How much of the personal life can one see in the film?

Sachin – You can see my family members talking. You will also see a lot of personal things and when you leave the theatre, you will say, “I never expected these things”.

As a player, you have been followed minutely. But in the movie, there are many personal elements too, so how did you decide what to keep and what to showcase?

Sachin – It boils down to the comfort level because I am a private person, and here my family is also involved. Recently there was a funny incident. My sister was invited to come on a TV show with me, but she refused saying that she can move around town without being recognized, but once she goes on TV, things would be different. So I told her, wait until the movie is out then!

As a family we have always chosen to stay away from the limelight. For all of them, the greater satisfaction is to see a smile on my face, and to see me do something good. It’s not been easy on them. I have been walking out alone, but they are all with me, always.

Did you have any say in the choice of actors?

Sachin – Absolutely nothing! They had taken over everything. I said that this is the first innings that I played, and you need to play the second innings.

James – There was no control from Sachin. He allowed me to make the film. He didn’t tell me that we need to talk about this or I need to see that; none of that. There was only a positive journey together to try and make the best film possible. It was a difficult film to make because so many people are emotionally connected (to it).

We dovetailed between the great sporting moments to following Sachin into the dressing room and into his home ~ James

Did you speak to the child actors?

Sachin – They had spoken to me about what I was like. My brother was a big help here. The film, for everyone’s knowledge, is shot in my house and not in my studio. So what you see about the 5-year-old Sachin was shot in my flat in Bandra and you see Ajit (Tendulkar, brother) trying to teach me how to play, it is the actual ground where I grew up. Everything is as real as it can get. The only thing is that I can’t go back to being a 5-year-old, so that was something we had to manage.

Sachin Tendulkar

At a special screening of Sachin: A Billion Dreams for the Indian Armed Forces

Were you involved in the music aspect of the film?

Sachin –  What does one tell A R Rahman! It is like A R Rahman telling me how to bat. I didn’t want to interfere in his profession. He is the boss there.

James – We have used some of Sachin’s favorite tracks in the film.

ST – A R Rahman kept bettering (the music) and he kept saying that we will do better every time. Every time we heard it (the music), it kept getting better. For the final version, I went to his studio in Powai and we heard it together on his system. Irshad (Kamil, Lyricist) was also there. He explained the meaning of the song to me, which was fabulous because you hear the title track two or three times, and initially, it is not easy to understand like any other song, but it grows on you. It is a typical Rahman song, which is really catchy and then it grows on you, it stays with you and it stayed with me more so because of the lyrics. I think the lyrics are really nice, they connect really well with what I tried to do for so many years.

It was important how my kids reacted to the film, and when they gave a positive reaction, I realized that James has done a good job ~ Sachin

Di you get emotional when you first saw the movie?

Sachin – Yes, just a few days ago when we did the first viewing (of the film) with the Indian Armed Forces, I did get emotional. There are moments where I am hoping that people will also feel the same. I have possibly seen this movie 20 times.

James – I have seen it a thousand times and I still get emotional.

Sachin Tendulkar

Sachin with Producer Ravi Bhagchandka (Left) and Director James Erskine

How did your kids react when they saw the film which captures your early life?

Sachin – Life has sort of come a full circle. When they were children and had time, I wasn’t able to give them much (time) and now when I have all the time in the world, our calendars don’t match, because they have classes and lectures that they can’t skip. But they saw the movie, and they gave a green signal to the film. For the whole world, I am a cricketer but for them, I am their father first. So, it was important how they reacted to the film, and when they gave a positive reaction, I realized that James has done a good job.

Would you say that any aspect was missed in the film?

Sachin – They got ten thousand hours of footage and I really admire the skills because how do you make sense of over 35 years and squeeze that to two hours and seventeen minutes!

James –  You can never make a perfect film, especially about Sachin; you can only do your best. You strive for perfection like a perfect innings but there are always going to be bits that…

I have seen the film a thousand times and I still get emotional  ~ James

What are your expectations from the film?

James – To me, it matters how each person watching it sees it and how it makes them feel. I am anxious that whoever watches it feels the story.