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Sons Of The Soil: Jaipur Pink Panthers review: A riveting docuseries

The docuseries explores the lives of players in five episodes.

Source: SIFY

By: Sonia Chopra

Critic's Rating: 3.5/5

Monday 07 December 2020

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Movie Title

Sons Of The Soil: Jaipur Pink Panthers review: A riveting docuseries

Director

Alex Gale, Omkar Potdar

Star Cast

Abhishek Bachchan, Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan

‘Why do I put myself through this?’ A distraught Abhishek Bachchan asks himself in the docuseries, as we follow the trials and tribulations of his team Jaipur Pink Panthers (JPP) competing in the seventh season of Pro Kabaddi League.

The season has 22 matches spread all over India, and the docuseries follows the team through this journey. Team owner and actor Abhishek Bachchan confesses that when he got involved with kabaddi, his friends teasingly asked if he was going for “gilli-danda” next. He takes us through “modern kabaddi” (thanks to Pro Kabaddi League) with packed stadiums, lights, music, and high stakes saying, “I don’t think anyone dreamt that this would happen to kabaddi”.

I found the charming contrast between the players (the sons of soil) and Bachchan’s suave commentary to be the highlight of the documentary. When the team’s head coach gives a crass drubbing to the players, Bachchan describes it euphemistically as “tough love”. But there is a synergy between the players and Bachchan. In one of the later episodes, Bachchan is accused of being too emotional about his team.

We see Amitabh Bachchan make an appearance in a couple of episodes where he confesses he’s superstitious and feels the team will lose if he attends. Aishwarya Rai makes an appearance from time to time, cheering from the stands and often interacting with the players. She is referred to as ‘bhabhi’ (sister-in-law) in the series.

The docuseries shows us the stringent fitness routine of the players and also their bonding. It takes us into their homes, and effectively, into their lives. We see their tragedies and triumphs (it is heartening to see that some players from humble backgrounds are now deservedly drawing significant paychecks). We get to know their families, some supportive and others not. One of the player’s sister takes a flight for the first time in her life, just to tie him a rakhi.

Through the journey of 22 matches, we see many turns. We see fans renting a projector in a hall and coming armed with popcorn for an important match. We see the team getting makeovers and being “pampered like babies”. We see them over-perform, under-perform and the pressures they deal with. Players fall sick, get injured, and after a losing match, someone has to take the blame.  

Abhishek Bachchan is prudent enough to leave the players, having a heated argument, to sort it among themselves. Understanding the pressure on one particular player, he says, “I know what it’s like to live under a shadow.” COO and friend Bunty Walia is more ruthless, and often talks of taking stringent measures.

We see quotes by various people from commentators, League committee, and the players themselves often expressing their angst. The various contrasting opinions and personalities playing out through one single league is one of the most interesting aspects of the series.

The finale is unexpected and a lesson in taking things in one’s stride when things play out unpredictably.  

Produced by BBC Studios and directed by Alex Gale and Omkar Potdar, Sons of the Soil will hold special interest for those who follow kabaddi. But even if you are on the fence about the game, Sons of the Soil is immersing enough to see you through the five snappy episodes.

(Sons Of The Soil: Jaipur Pink Panthers airs on Amazon Prime)

Sonia Chopra is a critic, columnist and screenwriter with over 15 years of experience. She tweets on @soniachopra2

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