India and Beyond

Gold-India's Quest for Pride

August 19, 2018
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Gold-India's Quest for Pride
When I visited China this time my hosts asked me to tell them two latest Hindi movie's name which they can watch and I told them about 'Neerja' and 'Gold'.In my opinion both movies are an attempt to fight against odds and circumstances.While 'Neerja' is a story of a daughter, a wife and a working lady who gives away her life while balancing and adjusting between family and work but when it comes to saving the life of passengers of aeroplane she is aboard she fights to her last breath.

'Gold', in my opinion is not just a simple Gold Medal of a game but it was a quest of entire nation to ride on the moments of pride and glory by defeating British in their own land after 200 years of slavery . India had won three consecutive Golds in Olympics of 1928,1932 and 1936 in leadership and captaincy of Maj Dhyanchand-The all time great and Magician of Hockey,before Olympics were aborted from being held uptill 1948 due to WW-II.

The Movie starts with Indian team marching in Germany to participate in 1936 Olympics amidst tight security as Adolf Hitler had given some unpleasant remark about India.India had already won 1928 and 1932 Olympic Golds but it was time when Germany and Adolf Hitler both were unbeaten words.

One need to have good recalling and reconnecting knowledge to relate the screen characters with real life players.
An unbeaten India embarks in finals where it had to face German squad. After a thrilling performance German team manage to restrict British Indian team at 0-0 in first half. And that is when Pankaj Gupta the then manager of Indian Hockey team shows Indian players Gandhi's Tricolor and asks them to play not for British India but for Indians.An spirited Indian players put fabulous game and scores 8 goals against Germans out of which 3 are scored by Dhyanchand himself. He played bare feet in finals without his spike shoes. Tapas Das of film as Junior Manager resembles partly with Pankaj Gupta. The character of Samrat resembles with Dhyanchand who after return starts coaching various hockey clubs including Indian team. Adolf Hitler was so impressed with Dhyanchand in finals of 1936 against Germans that he offered a very senior position to him in German Army to which he refused.

No Olympics were held between 1936-48.India gets independence in 1947 and amidst series of riots most of good Muslim hockey players migrats to Pakistan. Dhyan Chand plays his last international match in 1947 and between this 1948 London Olympics are announced.
It was a golden chance for free India to win the glory-the first hockey gold after independence but no player from 1936 Olympic team was playing now and half of them had migrated to Pakistan.

Balbeer Singh Sr was playing in Lahore College before Independence and was serving Punjab Police there after. His mentor Harbail Singh brought him to Amritsar and groomed him as a sharp Center Forward. The character of Himmat Singh in film resembles with Balbeer Singh Sr and Harbail Singh can again be imagined as part Tapas Das who brought Himmat Singh in team of 1948 Olympics.

Kunwar Raghubeer Pratap Singh of Balrampur to whom you see as an aggressive lad always looking to play as Center Forward is actually heavily influenced with Kunwar Digvijay Singh or K D Singh Babu or 'Babu'-the most dangerous Center Forward of his time who was named as Vice Captain of 1948 Olympic team. His aggression remained with him through out his sporting career and life when he captained Indian team in 1952 and coached it till 1965.He was born in Barabanki near Lucknow and not in Balrampur near Gonda in Uttar Pradesh as shown in film but these little and small changes makes the film entertaining. His father was Rai Bahadur, Known Thakur,Social Activist and Lawn Tennis Player. Babu was a brainy kid in studies and sports both and played his first game in Deva Mela in Barabanki and soon got selected in 1948 Olympic Team as Vice Captain.

The Captain of this team was Kishan Lal who once claimed to a vendor that one Day he would have lunch with a King. Tapas Das's Character is more or less influenced with Kishan Lal who united this young team and started his journey to return the glory of India from British which may be also refered as a revenge of slavery of 200 years. But astonishingly a three member IHF team see off them.

On other hand most of migrated Muslim players from Indian team had joined Pakistani hockey team and they too were determined to teach a lesson to Brit.

But this Pakistani team was defeated in Semi finals and they too put their hope on Indian Squad.

Pankaj Gupta was again joint manager of team and Naval Tata as President of IHF.
Unlike film Balbeer Singh Sr played two early matches but was aborted for rest of matches only to be inducted in finals where he again proved himself and scored 2 goals out of 4 against England. Disciplinary action was taken against Rodriguez and not Balbeer Singh as seen in film.
It was record fourth Olympic Gold and first for free India which brought smiles back on faces of Indians as they regarded it as successful quest to glory and pride.
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