BY RENU MEHTA, TORONTO:
Kacchey Limbu by Shubham Yogi is a film for cricket lovers, those who know the game and for the very few who don’t in India, and especially for those who have grown up playing the sport in neighbourhood courtyards, improvised pitches and cricket grounds.
“It was my love for cricket that inspired me to make the film,” Director Shubham Yogi sid at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). “And the love affair Mumbai has with cricket.”
The film, that had its world premiere at TIFF, is set in Mumbai and follows a pair of siblings who find themselves on competing cricket teams as they struggle to balance familial loyalty with the pursuit of their passions.
Aditi (Radhika Madan) dreams about being a fashion designer, though her father insists she study medicine. Her big brother Akash (Rajat Barmecha) drags himself to corporate job interviews though his first and only love is cricket. When he is accepted into a new league, Aditi decides to throw her hat in the ring and start her own team, assembling a motley crew of players who might not look like cricket stars but just may have what it takes.
“We had to learn cricket for two months every day for 2 to 3 hours,” said Barmecha and Madan and Ayush Mehra, the stars of the film at the Scotiabank theatre where the film was presented and described how they were approached for the film.
“I think I read the script in one go and said I want to do the film,” said Radhika Madan at the TIFF presentation at Scotiabank Theatre. “I felt the story was very relevant and very relatable. I have an older brother and I hate him (laughs). In our country, more than 90 per cent of women specially, they are not allowed to dream. Their destiny is already pre decided. They don’t have the luxury to figure it out for themselves, find their voice and be assertive. I found it very relevant and what I liked most was that the film story has not preached this thing. It’s very subtle which I loved.”
“I got some random message on Instagram when I was backpacking and till today I have no idea who that person is,” said Barmecha. “Then Neha (Pranjal Khandhdiya), our producer, gave me a call and said I’m making a film and tell me how you feel. I read the script and said I would love to meet the director. Then I met Yogi and then I said ya perfect.”
“I was told that there is this character of Kabir in the film who’s very charming and who’s very nice as a character. I said is he trying to flatter me or is he trying to sell the film,” laughs Mehra who plays a prominent role in the film.
The ending scene of the film is memorable, well edited and propelled by high energy music to highlight the sequence
“Music helps really,” said Yogi. “I love that last hit of the game. It was an incredible shot. We did around 25/30 takes of that last sequence till we got it right.”
Cricket is the second most popular sport in the world, played or followed by 2.5 billion people. The film is all about playing an old sport in a new way, challenging sexist traditions, and playing not to win, but for the pure pleasure of the game.
“I want to thank Shubham for taking me back to my childhood – gully cricket that I played after 20 years,” said Barmecha.