BCCI: the Untold Story waiting to be made
There have been two big stories in the world of Indian cricket over the last couple of weeks.
First, the release of M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story. With Sushant Singh Rajput in the lead role, the movie tracks Dhoni’s journey from school-level goalkeeper to World Cup-winning captain, and seems to have surprised audiences by being better than some of the big-ticket, cricket-based movies of the past—Azhar (2016) with Emraan Hashmi, and Dev Anand-Aamir Khan’s Awwal Number (1990).
The second big story of the week is the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI’s) big fight in the Supreme Court, with the BCCI making some rather amusing excuses to not accept the court’s directives (including threatening to cancel the India-New Zealand series and arguing in all seriousness that their president, Anurag Thakur, was a cricketer).
Anyway, the early success of the Dhoni film, and the sheer entertainment value to be drawn from BCCI vs the Supreme Court, leads one to the obvious conclusion: Someone needs to write and direct a movie about the Indian cricket board. So, here’s the pitch.
What’s the story?
The docudrama will track the journey of BCCI from a poor, inconsequential sports body which organized cricket matches and travel itineraries, to a multimillion-dollar corporate behemoth that controls international cricket, a sports body that believes in its own invincibility.
Why is this a story worth telling?
The success of M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story lies in the fact that it’s a real-life example of the conventional rags-to-riches story. Anyone who follows cricket knows there’s no bigger rags-to-riches story in Indian cricket than the BCCI’s.
Also, the Dhoni story is restrictive in that there are no real villains. With the BCCI, you have added ingredients such as politics, intrigue, money, corruption, conflicts, back-stabbing.... The story of the BCCI over the last 25 years feels like HBO’s Game Of Thrones.
The primary characters, or “heroes”, of this film will be a collection of politicians, businessmen and broadcasters. These are the altruists—every decision they take is driven by what’s good for the fans.
The fans are the irritating extras—forever complaining, about too much cricket, about too many advertisements, or even about being treated badly in stadiums. The whole corruption thing, fans have given up on—they just accept it as a way of life now.
The movie can be split into three parts (you can sell more popcorn in two intervals, you see): The first is the build-up to the 1996 World Cup, a time when the BCCI starts realizing what a gold mine it is sitting on—the more it digs, the more fans it finds. It can barely contain its excitement as it realizes that each of these fans is, how do you put it, “monetizable”.
The second phase, much like the middle overs of a One Day International, is one of consolidation and growth. A chance occurrence—India winning the inaugural World T20 Championship in 2007—brings about a revolution and, before the world realizes it, the BCCI is all-powerful (in a good way, of course).
In the final part, the BCCI realizes its growth has come at a cost—nobody likes it any more, and it has made some powerful enemies. The BCCI’s political heads refuse to accept the court’s orders to hand the game over to professionals, but not because they want to cling on to power—our heroes would never do that.
Our misunderstood heroes fight tooth and nail because they know, deep down in their altruistic hearts, that only they can fix these problems.
Also, there will be nine song-and-dance routines—one for each season of the Indian Premier League.
Deepak Narayanan has been a journalist for nearly 20 years and has worked in publications across Mumbai and Delhi before relocating to Goa, where he is researching the side effects of binge-eating fish thalis. He tweets at @deepakyen.