Taapsee Pannu portrays the vulnerability of a young Mithali Raj stumbling into a hostile India camp to the confident captain to went on to inspire generations of players, observes Deepti Patwardhan.
Ever since Mithali Raj retired from cricket on June 8, accolades have flown in from all quarters.
As the only Indian captain to lead the team to two World Cup finals, the batter with most runs in women’s international cricket and an absolute game-changer in Indian cricket, Mithali has left behind a formidable legacy.
Her inspiring story is now being celebrated on a whole new scale with a Bollywood-meets-cricket extravaganza.
The trailer of her biopic, Shabaash Mithu, released just a few days after she bowed out of the sport, seems a fitting tribute to her 23-year long cricket career.
In the movie, directed by Srijit Mukherji, Taapsee Pannu takes on Mithali’s role.
The trailer opens with ‘India! India!’ chants, with Mithali at the centre of the attention.
That sort of sporting jingoism had earlier been strictly reserved for the Men in Blue, the bearers of a billion dreams.
Of all of Mithali’s achievements, her biggest was possibly making women’s cricket in India mainstream. And a paradigm shift like that doesn’t come easy.
The trailer, about 2:44 minutes long, breezes through various stages of her life and the countless struggles through each — how she began and the gruelling training she underwent to emerge as one of India’s most technically correct batters.
It talks about the battle against gender bias, the battle against the system and the ultimate battle for recognition and identity.
All of this while excelling at her sport and keeping the dream alive.
‘There is nothing more powerful than a girl with a dream!’ Mithali had tweeted in April when the first visuals of the film were released.
In the short two plus minutes, Pannu portrays her vulnerability of a young Mithali stumbling into a hostile India camp to the confident captain to went on to inspire generations of players.
She seems to have gauged Mithali’s no-nonsense approach to the game and life while being the face and voice of Indian women’s cricket for so long.
The trailer closes with what has come to be Mithali’s most defiant moment in the media.
During a press conference before the 2017 World Cup, where India went all the way to the finals, she is, rather untactfully, asked about her favourite ‘male cricketer’ of all time.
No spoiler alerts here.
Mithali’s answer encapsulates how India’s women cricketers are still, despite her best efforts, treated as second class citizens.
Shabaash Mithu, at least as far as the trailer is concerned, feels like a well-timed hit.
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