November 20, 2010

India's first basketball movie to star Prashanti and Akanksha Singh

All those times I saw Spike Lee's classic 'He Got Game', watching Ray Allen aka Jesus Shuttlesworth drive by Denzel Washington, the one thing that DIDN'T go through my head was: "Wow, I wish I could see this in India." Not because I didn't want to see it; simply because, I couldn't even foresee seeing something like it, if you get the gist of what I'm rambling.

Well anyways, what I didn't expect to see might actually come to life - for perhaps the first time ever, an entire movie is going to be shot at a basketball court. '4 PM on the court' is set to become India's first ever basketball movie. It will be directed by Shine Krishna with a script written by Ajit Kuriakose Varghese, who is a basketball player himself.

But what is perhaps most interesting is that two of India's finest women's team stars, sisters Prashanti and Akanksha Singh of Varanasi, are set to have major roles in the movie as themselves. Prashanti, the captain of the Women's squad, and her sister Akanksha are currently with the team in Guangzhou, China, facing mighty difficult challenges at the Asian Games basketball tournament. But according to DNA, the two have confirmed their role in this upcoming movie, shooting for which will begin in Kerala in February.

Here is more information, straight from Derek Abraham of DNA, Mumbai:

“Yes, it’s true that we have been approached [for the movie]. We have been asked to play ourselves. I think this will be a completely new experience. I haven’t read the script, but I have been told that it’s a movie based purely on basketball. For now, though, we are focusing on the Asian Games,” Prashanti told DNA, shortly before the Indian contingent flew to Guangzhou.

Interestingly, Ajit Kuriakose Varghese, the movie’s script writer, is a basketballer himself. The movie (4 pm On The Court), he says, will be a “coming-of-age film” and “the first of its kind”.
Well, every movie is supposed to be unique, but when the 46-year-old tells you that the entire flick will be shot on a basketball court, you can’t but raise your eyebrows. “There are over 350 Hollywood movies based on basketball, but not one has been shot completely on one court,” Varghese says, matter of factly.
He then goes on to describe the script. “A bunch of collegemates are shown playing the game. After sweating it out for over two hours, they indulge in some friendly banter and leg-pulling stuff. This becomes a ritual. About a month later, two girls (Prashanti and Akanksha) join the college for a sports medicine programme. They go up to these boys and ask if they could play along. Moments later, their true identity is revealed and the boys are obviously left stunned,” Varghese explains.
The idea, Varghese says, is to portray the face of Indian women’s basketball. I want to show that this isn’t a game played by female thugs. I also want to show that playing basketball will do no harm to a woman’s body or figure. There are a lot of stereotypes about the game and women playing it. All that must change. We need to get more people on the court,” Varghese adds.
The movie will have five songs — yes, all on the court — and will be complete with a passionate kiss (no, neither sister will do that!). There could be one or two surprises too. An American coach could also play a cameo.

"It’s basically a Hindi movie with a bit of English. The budget is around Rs4 crore I am confident this will be a path-breaking movie,” says director Shine Krishna.

Wow! This concept has so many things going right for it... Potential cameo of American coach (I know Phil Jackson looks to India for his Zen-like meditative techniques)... Social message (girls should be allowed to play sports, too!)... Songs (no tree to dance around; basketball pole will have to do)... And of course, LOTS of basketball.