Barely a week ago, Mithali Raj – the batsman and captain of Indian's women team, and possibly one of India's greatest cricketers – announced retirement after a long haul. The makers of Shabaash Mithu, a biopic on her starring Taapsee Pannu, couldn't have timed it better. The promo begins with a scene in which we are shown Raj recalling her journey to her team mates as we are taken through the highlights of her life. The sexism that women cricketers have to deal with in India – a country obsessed with the 'Men in Blue' and ignorant of its women counterpart – seems to be the focus: we see Raj facing discrimination at home, and outside it, including taunts from other women teammates in her initial days (one of whom suggests her that getting married might be a better idea). Vijay Raaz plays her coach and a supportive figure who is shown making Raj go through brutal training, including hammering a nail through her shoes.
Biopics of sporting personalities – with its mix of nationalism, social commentary and dramatic potential – have come up as a popular genre in Hindi films over the last decade (Dangal, Dhoni: The Untold Story, Mary Kom). There are more in line, such as Chakdah Express, starring Anushka Sharma as another women cricketer Jhulan Goswami. Pannu herself has featured in Saand Ki Ankh, along with Bhumi Pednekar, in which they played the real life sixty something shooters from Haryana. It's no surprise that Raj's life – with a career spanning 23 years in international cricket and 10,000 runs – has now been made into a movie.
Shabaash Mithu is directed by Srijit Mukherji, a reputed Bengali director of such films as Autograph and Baishe Shrabon, is edited by Sreekar Prasad and has music by Amit Trivedi. It releases on July 15.
Watch the trailer here: