New Delhi: When religious politics divided three friends, it was the mutual love for cricket that helped them bury their petty differences and reunite during a historic India-Australia series in Kolkata in 2001. It could be pure coincidence or a really smart business move, but director Abhishek Kapoor's 'Kai Po Che' is being released on the day another India-Australia series is about to begin in India.
Adapted from best-selling author Chetan Bhagat's 'The 3 Mistakes of My Life', 'Kai Po Che' has already earned praise for its fluid pace and beautiful narration of the complex relationship between its three protagonists Omi, Ishaan and Govind.
The film revolves around three distinct events - the sectarian violence during the Godhra riots followed by the fire on board the Sabarmati Express, the devastating Gujarat earthquake and India winning a cricket Test series that many believed could not be won.
Cricket is a big part of the film that tells the story of wastrel Ishaan's obsession with a talented Muslim boy he considers a cricket prodigy and wants to coach. Field strategies hastily drawn on black boards alongside math equations and batting techniques are as much a part of this film as the religious posturing.
But the most heartening part of the film is the coming together of two friends, who fought bitterly over the rehabilitation of earthquake victims based on their religion, during the 2001 Test series in Kolkata. Their shared joy at India's unbelievable win over Australia, the third match in history where a team following on has gone on to win, help them bond once again.
While the film dedicated a good chunk for that series, it is being released on February 22, when the four-Test series between India and Australia starts. Featuring two formerly dominant sides of the past decade who are now going through a transition period, this series is nothing like the one the nations played in 2001, but the coincidence is astonishing.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) granted Kapoor permission to use footage from the Kolkata Test match. It remains to be seen whether the timely release will attract the sports fans.