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Last Updated: Friday, 9 April, 2004, 12:30 GMT 13:30 UK
Cricket drama hits the big screen
By Zubair Ahmed
BBC correspondent in Bombay

India's Rahul Dravid (right) and Parthiv Patel in the second Test
India and Pakistan are in the midst of a real-life Test series
A new Bollywood film depicting the tensions of an India-Pakistan cricket match was released on Friday.

The film, 'Silence Please... the Dressing Room', tells the story of a goodwill cricket match being played in Srinagar, summer capital of Indian-administered Kashmir.

The twist in the tale is provided by a threat made by a militant group to blow up the stadium.

The work may be fiction, but it reflects fears which played on the minds of many fans before the current Test match series between the two nations was announced.

In the film, two separate militant groups threaten to blow up the stadium if the match goes ahead.

A television reporter uncovers the plot and informs the police. The plot is foiled just in time, and the match is completed.

'Not cashing in'

Sanjay Srinivas, the film's director, says it is an attempt to promote peace through the "noble game" of cricket.

It is a film on cricket and the emotions of cricketers
Sanjay Srinivas
He believes the sport is the only means of creating goodwill between the two nuclear powers.

The director denies his film is a naked attempt to cash in on the cricket fever that has gripped Pakistan and India.

He says he finalised the script at a time when Bollywood was churning out anti-Pakistan films and long before the current series between Indian and Pakistan had been decided.

Mr Srinivas added: ''The script was written in August 2003. At that time there was cross border fighting between India and Pakistan and anti-Pakistan films were being made.

"I was the first person to project the angle of a peace treaty through cricket. And this is happening in reality today. In a way we are unlucky that the series is taking place before the release of the film.

"But, in a way, it is good that the purpose of the film was fulfilled before its release."

'Behind the scenes'

The film is an adaptation of the play of the same name directed by Sanjay Srinivas, which was shown in Bombay (Mumbai) just before the cricket World Cup last year

The role of the Indian team captain is played by Salil Ankola. a former real-life fast bowler for India, and the television reporter who uncovers the terrorist plot, is played by well-known film actress, Sonali Kulkarni.

Although the film focuses on the terror plot, it also goes behind the scenes, into the players' dressing rooms.

It reveals emotional scenes of back-biting, superstition, heated arguments, physical violence - and match-fixing.

The Pakistani team captain is shown talking on his mobile phone in the dressing room - where phone calls are not allowed.

Mr Srinivas said: "It is a film on cricket and the emotions of cricketers. The one aspect of cricket that no one has delved into yet is the dressing room. Cameras are never allowed inside the dressing room. It is a safely guarded area.

"Through this film we are trying to reveal this aspect of cricket. It actually brings out the emotions of cricketers. The 11-member team is selected only an hour before the match. So what does a cricketer feel when he becomes the 12th man?

"Salil Ankola spent 120 matches as the 12th man. So in a way he spent most of his career inside the dressing room and he gave us a lot of insight.''

So who wins the fictional match?

Mr Srinivas would not reveal the answer. Instead, he says "please see the film".


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