Ajit Pal looks forward to movie on World Cup win

‘Chak De! India’s success resulted in film-makers viewing sport as a field to be explored’.

Ajit Pal was in the city recently for a hockey promo connected with the 2018 World Cup, to be held in Bhubaneshwar in November.   -  VIVEK BENDRE

Hockey-themed movies are in fashion, with scripts ranging from women’s hockey (Chak De! India), incident from an Indian international’s life (Soorma) to India at the Olympic Games (Gold).

From pre-independence days, the game has had a deep emotional connect with Indians.

Ajit Pal Singh, honoured with the Padma Shri after leading India to victory at the 1975 hockey World Cup, observed: “The film industry picks topics that sell. Chak De! India’s success resulted in film-makers viewing sport as a field to be explored.

He is planning to watch Gold, released last month, after hearing about the movie from former teammates.

Chak De and Soorma I have seen. Chak De was the first hockey movie to be made and was appreciated. I enjoyed it, because it was team-oriented, about the efforts of a coach to develop a squad.

“Soorma deals with self-motivation, like the movie on Milkha Singh (Bhaag Milkha Bhaag),” he said in a chat with Sportstar.

Interestingly, the nation’s only hockey World Cup win in 1975 in Kuala Lumpur, is unexplored territory for the film industry.

“No concrete proposals have come up,” he said.

Asked if he remembers any incident or characters in his team worthy of adapting into a movie, the captain replied: “There is nothing bigger than winning (the World Cup). Victory is everything, nothing beyond that for me.”

Ajit Pal was in the city recently for a hockey promo connected with the 2018 World Cup, to be held in Bhubaneshwar in November.

He agreed that a hockey movie-based on a World Cup won 43 years ago, can attract an audience.

“There will be people curious about a World Cup movie, maybe producers from our generation. The audience will be a younger generation, curious about a piece of hockey history.”

Hockey players were celebrities then, especially the 1975 batch. Victory parades started after touchdown in Chennai.

The film industry in Bombay (Mumbai) welcomed the band of champions in its own style.

“The film fraternity invited us for a friendly match… film stars versus hockey stars at the Bombay Hockey Association ground,” he revealed.

“Raj Kapoor, Dara Singh, Vinod Khanna, Navin Nischol... you name it, all were present.”

For the movie industry, proud of its ability to recreate scenes from a colourful past, Indian hockey’s only World Cup victory may be a gold mine of memories for spin-offs.