Film review by John Campbell
As a confessed cricket tragic and longstanding Indophile (with a ticket to the upcoming Delhi test burning a hole in my pocket), I knew that I would enjoy this movie; that I loved it as much as I did came as a welcome bonus.
The true story of the Abbotsford Anglers’ tour of India was screened as an SBS doco in 2005. Director Boyd Hicklin hung on to it and, collaborating with writer Brendan Cowell, has transformed the boys’ adventure into a touching and at times hilarious journey of enlightenment and fulfillment.
The club’s president is Teddy Brown (Stephen Curry), a dour batsman happily trapped in a man/boy cycle of unending cricket seasons. He gets the chance to live the dream of representing Australia when the Anglers wrangle sponsorship to participate in an annual amateurs’ tournament to be contested in India. The XI are a mixed bag – the Prince (David Lyons) philosophises, Stavros (Damon Gameau) is the show pony, Rick (Cowell), a party animal, is about to become a father, Mark (Brenton Thwaites) is the cocky ring in – and their lack of application sees them fall short of the Mumbai final. But they are given an unexpected chance to redeem themselves against a Bollywood actor’s side.
Teddy and his mates will not be the first westerners to ‘find themselves’ on the subcontinent – there is a beautiful scene in which an old sadhu, sitting at the ghats of Varanasi, tells Teddy ‘this is India, we are all Sachin Tendulkar’s brother’ – but Hicklin is to be praised for not making a meal of the ‘spirituality’ factor. Nor are the lads presented as clichéd easybeats (Gameau in particular looks more than handy with the willow) – they are capable but slow to grasp the significance of what they have embarked upon; that, in its own way, theirs is a pilgrimage. True to the spirit of the game and, in the process, explaining the mystery of the head wobble, Hicklin nails it with a fantastic Bollywood song and dance version of Dreadlock Holiday.
Don’t miss it.