The Economist welcomes your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful of other readers. Review our comments policy.
You must be logged in to post a comment. Log in to your account.Don't have an account? Register
Who the hell told you that Srk is India's biggest star?
He postponed his movie Raees to avoid release date clash with Salman khan's Sultan which was expected to completely obliterate it at the box office
A sad footnote on a civilization that hasn't promoted sports. It's not even taught in the family. A recipe for disaster. Your going to get some really unhealthy people. I guess they need to migrate to the West, to understand the importance of incorporating sports in addition to an emphasis on education. Too much visceral fat in Indians, and obiesity in the educated, richer ones, combined with the highest diabetes percentages in the world, make Indians in desperate need for some good sports education. It's not going to happen, and bad eating habits, and sedentary lifestyles, among the educated and rich are going to hurt India.
Prospero's correctly identifies some of the reasons these sports movies do well in India. But it's not really the whole story. Sports-based movies do well even in the US, which has lots of real-life, contemporary sporting glories to its name.
End of the day, movies like Dangal do well because they are well made and entertaining. While a movie that wasn't entertaining wouldn't do well, no matter how nostaliga-inducing it was.
And while romance does remain Bollywoods biggest genre, its thankfully diversifying fast. Besides sports-movies, there are genres like Satire, Mystery, Crime, buddy /road-trip movies, political thrillers, historical dramas, biopics, court-room dramas etc. that don't revolve around romance. (Neerja is a great example of a non-romance Bollywood blockbuster; Peepli Live & Jolly LLB as examples of Satire).
The author seems to conflate Bollywood with the entire Indian film industry. Bollywood is watched by 40 percent of the Indians. Regional cinema like the Malayalam film industry makes a lot more noir style movies. This kind of unidimensional view of any subject is getting to be more common in western media, and among its audiences.
I have to hear statements like "Shakespeare is the greatest playwright in history" from people who can't name a poet or author in an Asian or African language.
It's a (fictionalized) biopic about an actual family who won actual medals in an actual competition. I'm sorry you are being spoiled by the historical record of the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
The writer reveals the films ending in the first sentence. That's a degree of stupid you don't see often. Really. I'm gobsmacked.
Normally you'd be right. But this film is based on a real life events, so the ending isn't really a mystery.
India does underperform horribly relative to population. you would think that sheer weight of numbers would be enough to see them have medalists here or there. A single silver and bronze last year tells the story.
It seems so easy sitting on the other side. But it is stupid to think Indians don't make rational decisions when it comes to sports! :)
I won 2 Gold medals in Judo and represented my state when I was in high-school. I also had a bronze in Maths olympiad. Post schooling, the choices were easy. Study for IIT JEE and become an engineer or go full time with the training academy and make Judo as a professional career. The former, it seemed then, led to somewhat steady income. The latter choice had a "school-Judo-teacher" written all over it. Or at least, it seemed that way.
Now in US, with a PhD from Carnegie Mellon, I wonder if that was a right choice. Perhaps, it was! Perhaps, it was not. But I guess most Indians make the same choice when it comes to sports. Europeans or Americans perhaps, don't have to make the same choice. There is an offer from university waiting for you. Not in India, where 800,000 compete for 5,000 spots (actually 500 spots, if you are particular about a stream, and 25 spots if you want a particular college).
Cricket is a aberration, because now there is an easier path to stardom and financial security, or may be it seems from outside :)
True. But let's not forget that England, which invented cricket, has never won a world cup in that game. It hasn't won the world cup in football (which it also invented) in 50 years.
I think team sports are harder to win in this respect. For a team sport you need (mostly) a squad of 10-15 decent players to win and the chances of having this many decent players all come about at the same time are obviously lower if you don't have a constant stream of talent. The U.K. as a whole did fairly well in the last few olympics, even beating China in the gold medal count in 2016 olympics. This suggests there is good talent in the country in individual disciplines. My observation is that India should have lots more people in individual disciplines that win stuff, simply becuase of sheer numbers. Yet they don't. That is unfortunate and speaks volumes of the lack of sporting facilities and sporting culture in the country.
As for cricket, given the Ozzies have made 6 out of the last 7 world cup finals and won 5 of them, it's clear that infrastructure, organisation and early talent idenficiation for team sports is key.
I agree with that. There are some sports when certain countries have a physical advantage, while most others require good coaching. I have watched the USSR win most medals in the Olympics, and Russia paling in comparison.
India's talent will come out on its own time. After all, a few decades ago there were no IT engineers from India. Compared to the USA. Today that ratio is more representative of the two countries populations.
Everyone loves a winner, specially when the victory comes after a real fight. And there is nothing new to it. How could you forget:
Rocky II (1979)
Rocky III (1982)
Rocky IV (1985)
Rocky V (1990)
Rocky Balboa (2006)
Creed II (2017)
None of them were *real* fights
Apart from the awesome original movie, the sequels were worse than garbage
absolutely. Sports movies do well because a well made sports movie is just a lot of fun.. The author's view is a bit reductionist.
"Why Indians love sports films"
Probably because, going by a lifetime of abysmal performance in the Olympics, Indians are terrible at real-life sports.
LOL, not sure where you come from TS2912.
Indian cricket team, over 1 billion+ cricket crazy supporters, and ICC world cricket rankings disagree with you!
Cricket is a sport???
And none of the Olympic events (where India scores a consistent ZERO) are sports?
Yes, Cricket is a sport. So is Kabaddi. And Indians are good at them :)
Lol. You want the average Indian to compete in shooting that requires a specialized 5,000$ gun, or 600$ suite with a 500,000$ swimming pool, or a 500,000$ astro turf, or that 200,000$ a year coach. Dude, get over it.
The only thing surprising is why Indians don't play football. Olympics sports need a money pit and are not for an average joe!
"Yes, Cricket is a sport. So is Kabaddi. And Indians are good at them :)"
A few points...
1 - Even in cricket, where India puts in billions of dollars annually, it has struggled against tiny countries like the West Indies, New Zealand, etc.
If cricket were played worldwide, rather than about 6 countries today, India would vanish to obscurity.
2 - The only reason India is 'good' at Kabaddi is because no other country plays that 'game'.
Can you, for a second, picture an Indian competing against a 350 lb American/Russian/European player?
3 - There are many sports that do not require expensive infrastructure. Running, wrestling, boxing, soccer, etc. And the odd bronze medal won by an Indian is typically someone like Rocky, training heroically under abysmal conditions, with zero support by the Indian government.
The Indian government has a reasonable budget for sports. Unfortunately most of it is pissed away on cricket. And the rest of it on its sports officials (example being the Olympic delegation composition).
Which leads me to conclude that the only sport India would have a prominent position in would be pocket billiards.
Prominent but not dominant because there are many countries where men do nothing but hang around with their hands in their pockets :)
You sound like the Mathematics dud, who defends the underperformance with 90% in ...wait...Geography !!
In the larger scheme of the World, Cricket is a non sport with 90% of enthusiasts from South Asia - with other countries being equal noobs when it comes to Sports.
Yeah right. Uruguay - a middle income Nation as big as Surat or Lucknow has 3 Football World cup.
What's wrong with getting a 90% in Geography?
"Cricket is a non sport with 90% of enthusiasts from South Asia" --- Either you come from Mars, or you are just trolling here!
Well, cricket world cups have the highest coverage after Olympics and World Cup football.
As for the 90 percent figure, let's accept that 75 percent of civilized world history took place in Asia. the Indian sub continent had 30 percent of world history from 2800 B.C. to 1800 A.D.