Sons of the Soil: Jaipur Pink Panthers (Amazon Prime Video)
I had the privilege of once watching a game of kabbaddi by Abhishek Bachchan’s team. He was in Patna and he personally invited my family and friends. I went only because I didn’t want Abhishek to feel bad. The game was a revelation. The Bachchan boys played kabbaddi with an infectious enthusiasm. By the end of the game we were out of our seats cheering.
Thanks to Abhishek the game of khabaddi has gone from the akaadha to the stadium. It would be no exaggeration and no trivialization either, to say Abhishek glammed-up the game, gave it the much needed elitist boost, elevated its status from the grassroots to the upper echelons. And all this without undercutting the game’s inherent rawness.
This 5-part docu-series takes us in a journey with the Pink Panthers across India as they travel and play in tournaments, not always triumphantly. But heck, watching the boys in their spirited avatar is to be reminded that cricket is not the be-all-end-all to the sporting spirit in India.
We see the Pink Panthers practising on the field. We also see them in their locker-room chats and best of all at home being pampered by their entire family. One players takes us on a flash tour of his new home as he proudly shows his shiny washing machine, refrigerator, and mixie. Another player’s mother does an oil massage of his head asking about where Abhishek takes care of him.
“Maybe he will arrange your marriage,” Mataji giggles. The conversations about kabbaddi are nicely balanced with the players’ home life. Abhishek Bachchan who serves as a narrator could have been a little more relaxed to go with the informal of the game. Also he could have shared more anecdotes on his team players, their dreams, desires, fears, love life.
All we see is the players as kabbaddi enthusiasts. In that capacity they come off with flying colours in this sharply-cut documentary which travels from Hyderabad to Ahmedabad to Patna in search of an answer to the question of an eternal quest. What makes a man (or a woman) so keenly devoted to a game that outwardly looks like a bunch of boys bullying each other down to the ground?