Movie Review: An intermittently interesting cricketing story

Movie Review: An intermittently interesting cricketing story

By ANUBHAV PARSHEERA | | 7 May, 2016
Death of a Gentleman
Director: Sam Collins, Jarrod Kimber, Jon Hotten
Starring: Giles Clarke, Ed Cowan, N Srinivasan, Gideon Haigh
Avoiding cricket-based conversation had always been a tough task in India. Along came the Indian Premier League which made things worse. What started off as Lalit Modi’s brainchild in 2008, is now alive and hearty at the age of eight years old. And like most eight-year-olds, IPL has gotten really desperate for our attention. It’s hard to switch on the television or read the news without having IPL coverage shoved down our throats. Even as we continue to consume the product, the documentary Death of a Gentleman attempts to raise a few questions around the concentrated development of cricket in the world and how the big three; Australia, India and England largely control the cricketing universe. Fun fact; Australia, India and England will be hosting every major ICC event till 2023 atleast, even as smaller Test playing nations struggle on the verge of being bankrupt. 
Death of a Gentleman has its heart in the right place and sets out to tackle the global behemoth that international cricket has become, largely due to the twenty-twenty explosion that IPL created. It traces the steps of two cricket writers, Sam Collins, and Jarrod Kimber as they take off on a journey to find out the reason behind the lack of transparency in the way things are run by the cricketing boards, particularly the ICC and BCCI, and it makes for an interesting watch.  
A series of interviews spanning over one and a half hours interspersed with stock footage never make for easy viewing. For all its good qualities, the work is also much like a well-educated cousin who is good at stating facts and figures, but is also undeniably boring. The game of cricket works because the fan comes and watches the game. More insights and interviews with such personalities would have been welcome. There is little to no interaction with cricket fans, and what makes them tick. Instead, we have a barrage of journalists and administrative figures answering questions. Inspirational keyboard notes are peppered throughout liberally as well.  
A sizeable amount of the runtime is dedicated to glorifying the Test format of cricket, and to understand if it is ailing. But the fact that Test cricket itself further goes on to alienate the smaller cricket playing nations who are not given Test status is glossed over. The idea of patriotism above all is also questioned as we see interviews of players such as Chris Gayle, who choose to play for the IPL over playing for their own countries. 
The film is a clear lament of the commercialisation of a sport which has led to the neglect of what many still deem the purest form of cricket; the Test match. Originally intended to be played over five days, the game was shortened to fifty overs later, and finally reduced to twenty overs a side in the twenty-twenty format. As someone who no longer enjoys watching the game, I can’t wait for the one over per side matches that will possibly be a reality in a few years. 
Death of a Gentleman suffers from a lazy pace which is sustained by intermittently interesting segments. The two protagonists out to uncover the truth lack the charm and irreverence required to sustain a 1 hour 40 minute long documentary about taking on the establishment. It hinges mostly on interviews from a lineup that includes the likes of Lalit Modi, N Srinivasan, Harsha Bhogle, Rahul Dravid, and Tony Greig to name a few. 
Its straight-to-web release in India during the current IPL season is timely and it makes up for the lack of high production value. We only wish there were harder hitting queries and a more aggressive form of questioning. All in all, it is a highly recommended watch before you switch on the TV for some IPL coverage tonight. 
(The documentary can be streamed on the TVFPlay service  and is available for a price of Rs 99.)

Add new comment

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.