Sachin Tendulkar, who retired from all forms of cricket last year, is reportedly set to play himself in a biopic that will hit 2,000 screens across the world in the near future…
Sachin Tendulkar, the film star. Doesn’t that sound weird? It’s difficult to imagine Sachin Tendulkar as an actor. For all of us who have always identified Sachin as the god of cricket, it is but natural to be taken aback when we find out that Tendulkar, who retired from all forms of cricket last year, is reportedly set to play himself in a biopic that will hit 2,000 screens across the world in the near future. Mostly, it’s because we just cannot imagine Sachin doing anything else apart from playing cricket. Moreover, we do not want Sachin to go down the path of Ajay Jadeja whose so-called acting in Khel made us cringe or Navjot Singh Sidhu, whose fake laughter on countless comedy shows is enough torture to drive a person insane. On the other hand, it is also true that all of us had no problem when we saw him in a Pepsi ads saying ‘Yeh dil maange more’ or in Boost ads saying ‘Boost is the secret of my energy’. Moreover, can any person do justice to the role of a person who has broken almost all records in cricket and is called the god of that game?
We take a look at some historical precedents. On one hand, there are many people who received positive remarks for playing themselves in films.
The best example of non-actors playing themselves as central characters in films is that of The Beatles. Many of the films made by the evergreen rock band were successful and well received by critics and are regarded as films of historical importance. From A Hard Day’s Night, Magical Mystery Tour and Yellow Submarine which document the band’s hectic lifestyle, their huge fan following and, of course, their music, to Let It Be, which depicts the tension between the band members which probably caused their break-up, most of the people have no regrets that The Beatles appeared in films.
In the hilariously named movie Being John Malkovich, John Cusack’s character finds a door in his office which leads into, of all things, the brain of John Malkovich. This film in which Malkovich played himself is arguably the most well-known film in which an actor played himself as the central character. Moreover, this film, with the most out-of-the-box plot you can think of, was praised by critics and has probably become a milestone for movie-making.
‘He Man’ Dharmendra raised quite a few eyebrows when he decided to play himself in the Jaya Bachchan-starrer Guddi. Not only that, the entire plot of the movie rests on Dharmendra, even though he is not the central character. The movie is about the crush which the central character develops for Dharmendra. Dharmendra’s character, in terms of actor playing themslves, was given the most amount of importance in a Bollywood film. Otherwise, actors in Bollywood have usually appeared in cameos while playing themselves. Some such roles worth mentioning include those of Juhi Chawla and Govinda in Andaz Apna Apna, Salman Khan in Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani, Amitabh Bachchan in Bombay Talkies and English Vinglish and Akshay Kumar in The Shaukeens. On the other hand, it is worth noting that with a few exceptions like The Beatles, most of the people who played themselves were actors. And Sachin is not an actor. Moreover, a few lines in a commercial are much simpler to execute than an entire movie, where the role of an actor, even if he is playing himself, becomes much more complicated. Playing oneself in front of a camera is very different from being oneself off the camera.
Could Sachin have made a better decision by letting an actor play his character? Here are some of the actors who played the role of real people so well that their roles are better known than their actual self:
Sir Ben Kingsley as Gandhi
There is no arguing on this one. The first name that pops up into any Indian’s mind when it comes to biopics is Gandhi. Note that the name that pops is almost always Gandhi and never Ben Kingsley, who played the Mahatma. In fact, Sir Kingsley played the character so well that some sections of people in India are rumoured to have believed that it was Gandhi’s ghost who had come back to play that role. Needless to say, perhaps no one else, not even the Mahatma himself, could have played that role better than Kingsley.
Seema Biswas as Phoolan Devi
No matter what role Seema Biswas does now, whenever she is seen on the screen, the first thing that anyone says is that she’s the woman who played “Bandit Queen”, or the role of Phoolan Devi. “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” has no better example than that of Phoolan Devi, who became a gang leader and killed 22 Thakur caste villagers after she was gang-raped by high caste bandits. And Seema Biswas, with her ruthless and tough portrayal of Phoolan Devi, truly ‘became’ that character in Bandit Queen.
Philip Seymour as Truman Capote
Although he is also known for other roles, Philip Seymour Hoffman is best known for his protrayal of the author and actor Truman Capote in the film Capote. Hoffman won the Acamedy Award for Best Actor for his role. His role received almost universal praise from critics and the film has become one of the best biopics of all time. Now, when most people think of Capote, it’s the actor’s role that comes to mind, and not the real person.
With good performances from both sides of the debate, it is tough to say now whether Sachin will be successful in his acting or not. Needless to say, ‘Master Blaster’ will have to work very hard to learn the techniques of acting so that an honest, moving portrayal of his life comes out on screen.