Filmmaker Susanta Das is all set to tell the story of Jhulan Goswami, the Indian pace-bowler who became the first woman cricketer to claim 195 wickets. The film rightly capitalises on the gaining interest in women’s cricket after the 2017 ICC Women’s World Cup at Lord’s this year.
The fast-bowler who earlier had reservations about films modelled on her life and career felt that now is the right time for a biopic. In a candid conversation with Media India Group, Jhulan Goswami explains why she readily agreed to the biopic titled ‘Chakdah Express’.
What made you accept the offer on a biopic now?
I felt like now is the time, it just did not feel right before. I guess I did not feel ready yet to be portrayed as the central character of a biopic. Till now, I had turned down offers to have a film made on my life because I felt that I have not really achieved anything that could serve as an inspiration to the younger generation.
Chakdah Express is slated to release next year. What are the thoughts that went behind the making of the biopic?
I am not worried about the content when it comes to the biopic as that shall be upon the filmmaker. However, what I would like to say about the biopic is that I feel it will play a huge role in promoting women’s cricket in India. The impact of silver-screen is huge in a country like India. If people are getting to see my story on screen, maybe few young boys and girls will be motivated to take to cricket. In today’s world, the younger generation is more inclined towards digital games than physical sports. So, the thought that went behind agreeing to this biopic and its making is that the story should get across to the next generation and in a way that it motivates them towards sports in general if not just cricket. That is the agenda.
Do you have any inhibition towards the actor who would be playing you?
Till now, it is not decided who would play me. It is to be finalised by the end of October. However, I have no such inhibitions as to who would play me. What matters is that the biopic is going to divulge a lot of details about what viewers probably did not know. There are still certain things that the world does not know yet about me. The film is going to portray all those undivulged details. I want someone who would do this justice.
Do you feel the working title ‘Chakdah Express’ is going to do justice to the story?
For those who don’t know, I spent most of my childhood at my aunt’s place in Chakdaha (a village in Nadia district of West Bengal) with my cousins and their friends. Surprisingly, I was an ardent fan of football and used to stay glued to the television set for the football world cups. Cricket was something I watched when there were no football matches on. It was the 1992 Cricket World Cup where Pakistan was the champion that got my attention. It felt like such an exhilarating game. I could finally realise those world cup dreams with this year’s world cup. To play in the World Cup finals was a dream come true, even though we did not win. But it did put women’s cricket in India at a high pedestal wherein parents would now encourage kids especially girls to take up cricket as a profession. It is this transformation from the 10-year-old substitute bowler, to a ball girl to finally standing where I am today, that the film is based on. Hence, to me the title Chakdah Express is apt and special as it is significant of this long journey.
The biopic is slated to release in 2018 during the ICC Women’s World Twenty20 championship. The film will be essentially in Hindi and will star a Bollywood actress to play the role of the ex-captain of the women’s national cricket team. The film will be shot in destinations ranging from Chakdaha to England’s famous Lord’s and will trace Jhulan’s journey since her debut. This biopic follows the success of similar biopics that portrayed the journey of cricket legends such as MS Dhoni and Sachin Tendulkar.