Biopic On Hockey Wizard Dhyan Chand To Be Made By Walkwater Media

Article by Aasheesh Sharma, courtesy Hindustan Times

Suraiya and Ashok Kumar fan, who relished his kulhad of rabdi. A hockey magician who conjured up scoring opportunities at will. A patriot who turned down an offer the Fuhrer thought he couldn't refuse.

Major Dhyan Chand was all these and then some. Now the exciting life and times of the champion is the subject of a biopic, to be produced by Walkwater Media's Pooja Shetty, and directed by advertisement filmmaker Rohit Vaid, who makes his Bollywood debut with this film.

Hockey historian K Arumugam, who runs the NGO One Thousand Hockey Legs, says Dhyan Chand is a synonym for sporting excellence. "If a single athlete gave the country credibility as a sporting nation, it was none other than this soldier in the British Indian army. Just like Bradman is cricket's first global superstar, Dhyan Chand was hockey's first global superstar. Scoring a hat-trick of goals against Germany in the final of the Olympics organised by Adolf Hitler has no parallel," says Arumugam.

Simply mull over some hard facts about the hockey wizard. Dhyan Chand won an Olympic gold medal for India in three successive Olympics at Amsterdam (1928), Los Angeles (1932) and Berlin (1936). Over an illustrious 22-year career (1926 to 1948), he scored more than 400 international goals.

Beyond statistics, Dhyan Chand's impact on India's hockey fortunes can be gauged by the astonishing statistic that India never, ever lost any international match that he played in.

At the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Adolf Hitler wanted to reinforce the myth about 'Aryan' racial superiority and physical prowess. When British India sent its team to defend the titles it had won in the last two editions of the Olympics, they had to surmount a number of odds. To begin with, for the travel to Germany by ship, the team had to raise money on its own.

Says his son, two-time Olympian Ashok Kumar, "The team needed more than 50,000, Babuji told us. Considering the enormity of the amount, a nationwide campaign was launched and leading industrialists and the royalty were approached to pitch in with money that would sponsor the team's voyage to Berlin. Finally, funds to the tune of 52,000 were raised. We have the balance sheet at home even today."

India met Germany in the Olympic hockey final. With the Fuhrer in attendance, the Germans were really charged up. At half time, India was hanging on to a slender one-goal lead which could have been reversed in a matter of seconds. "The Germans played a really physical match and my father, who was marked tightly, lost one tooth in a rough tackle. Then my uncle Roop Singh and he decided to remove their shoes and play barefoot. In those days, no substitutions were allowed and if a player was injured the team had to play on regardless," says Ashok.

After half-time, the team played as if their lives depended upon the outcome of the match. India hammered in seven goals with Dhyan Chand scoring a hat-trick. A stunned Hitler, mesmerised by Dhyan Chand's stick sorcery, sat in silence. After the final, the close to 50,000-strong crowd of German fans, including their Chancellor, left the stadium in a hush, with military-like precision.

Subsequently, Hitler offered a colonel's rank to Dhyan Chand provided he took German citizenship, says Ashok. "But my father declined saying that he was first and foremost an Indian and then a soldier or a player," added Ashok.

In Vienna, a statue of his father with four hands and four sticks was installed to signify that it was impossible for a hockey player to control the ball so well with just two hands. As a child, recalls Ashok, hundreds of strangers kept pouring into their home to meet Babuji.

After hours, Dhyan Chand was fond of watching Hindi films, says Ashok. "He liked movie stars Ashok Kumar and Madhubala. But he had a special place in his heart for singing star Suraiya, whose life-size portrait was hung in our Meerut home for years," recalls Ashok.

The hockey magician had his own ways of displaying affection, says Ashok. "When he came home for his annual leave in Jhansi, he would go out in the evening with his friends and on the way back, get us rabdi in a large mitti ka bartan. Since many of us had fallen asleep by then, he used to wake each of us up and feed us rabdi with a spoon with his own hands," recalls a misty-eyed Ashok.

Decades after Dhyan Chand's death, says Ashok, his fame hadn't diminished. Every corner of the globe he toured, Dhyan Chand left an impression and won fans over. Ashok cites an example from a tour to New Zealand in 1975, when he was part of the Indian team. "We were having snacks in a restaurant in Auckland. The owner approached us and asked us whether the side was from India. On confirmation she remarked that she remembered the goals scored by Dhyan Chand in 1935! The lady, who was a child back in 1935, had watched all the matches on that tour. When my coach told her that I was her son, she gave me a big hug."

Apart from admiration, the quality of his game also drew astonishment and awe. On a trip to Holland the authorities broke his hockey stick to check whether there was a magnet inside. On another occasion, a lady gave him her walking stick and asked him to play with that. Dhyan Chand managed to score a goal with that too!

Says Aarti Shetty, Walkwater Media's creative director, on their Dhyan Chand biopic: "Indian hockey's greatest legend will soon be seen on celluloid. Films based on real life heroes, which have inspirational content, generate a lot of interest among the audience. Dhyan Chand had an amazing life, and we have a team of people researching every aspect. Writer Ila Bedi Dutta (of Agneepath fame) is writing the story, while ad filmmaker Rohit Vaid, who has been closely following the life of Major Dhyan Chand, will direct it. We proceeded with the project after getting clearances from Dhyan Chand's family."

Ashok says his father's indomitable spirit and simplicity are his most valuable legacy. "He was a superstar who rode a bicycle to work even after winning Olympic gold medals. Even if the opposition targeted him (Babuji's nose was broken many times), he never cribbed about it. When others were sleeping in the barracks or playing cards, he used to practise alone. In my time, I followed these life lessons and they always helped me bounce back from tough times," signs off Ashok.

India's Industry Chiefs Very Selective In Watching The World Cup

Based on article 'Rio Calling, Football Fever Grips Industry Captains' in Hindustan Times

here were two World Cups held in the month of June 2014 - one was in India's national game of hockey and where India was participating - and one was in the global game of football, where India with a world ranking of 151 was not participating.

India's industry chiefs went crazy over one of the World Cups - no prizes for guessing which one. As reported in an article in the Hindustan Times:

  • Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani will be catching the action live with wife Nita and their children.
  • They will have company in Mahindra and Mahindra chairman Anand Mahindra, a football enthusiast and Brazil fan.
  • Bharti vice-chairman Rajan Bharti Mittal told HT that he was going to the World Cup.
  • Brothers Malvinder Singh and Shivinder Singh, head of Fortis Healthcare, were waiting for the semi-final lineup to finalise their Brazil plans.
  • Future Group owner Kishore Biyani will be in Brazil for the two semi-finals and final.
  • Videocon chairman Venugopal Dhoot and Hero MotoCorp's Pavan Munjal were already in Brazil.
  • HDFC Bank chairman Deepak Parekh will also be going to Brazil

This shows the foreign-centric mindset of India's industry czars. You have your own national team of your national game particpating in the World Cup, and there is not even a tweet. And then you have a World Cup where your country is ranked 151 in the world, and the industry chiefs are in a hurry to get their Yellow Fever shots to be seen in Brazil.

The Commonwealth Games are coming up. How many of these industry chiefs will care enough for Indian sports to watch our sports stars on television, if not in person in Glasgow, Scotland?

Why Can't India Men's Hockey Be Like Argentina Men's Hockey?

Photograph of Argentina hockey coach Carlos Retegui by S. S. Kanesan, courtesy The Star of Malaysia

rgentina came into the 2014 Men's Hockey World Cup having never won any medal in the history of the World Cup - they never even qualified for the World Cup semi-finals.

The Argentine Hockey Federation did not have money for a men's hockey coach - they temporarily borrowed the services of the women's hockey coach Carlos Retegui, who did double duty at the 2014 World Cup. In contrast, the Indian World Cup team had a Men's Hockey Coach from Australia (Terry Walsh) and a High Performance Director from Netherlands (Roelant Oltmans).

The Argentine men's hockey team gets minimal to none government support. In contrast, Indian hockey got 22.5 crore from the Government of India in 2013-14. This money was used to pay for the the latest training equipment, from GPS Monitors to Speed Guns to Analysis Software, along with foreign exposure tours. Indian hockey players get 5-star comfort, national camps, scientific diet - everything one can ask for is provided to the players.

Argentina does not have a professional men's hockey league. In contrast, the Hockey India League has made national hockey players like Sardar Singh, V. Raghunath, Ramandeep Singh and others overnight millionaires.

The architect of Argentina's success was its penalty corner specialist Gonzalo Peillat, who finished with a tally of 10 goals. Gonzalo alone scored as many goals as the entire Indian team in the World Cup (10 - of which only 1 came from a penalty corner).

Eventually, Los Leones, the Argentine men's hockey team, with everything going against it, left the World Cup with a bronze medal. In contrast, the Indian hockey team, with months of training, European exposure tour, the best foreign coaches, and with full-time hockey players who get paid to do nothing else but to play hockey, ended up 9th.

The Indians finished eighth in the 2010 World Cup and now 9th in the 2014 World Cup. This is no progress.

Why can't the Indian men's hockey team be like the Argentine men's hockey team?

Why Can't Indian Women's Hockey Be Like Netherlands Women's Hockey?

Full House for the Netherlands vs. Japan Women's World Cup match. Photograph courtesy FIH

he Indian women's hockey team recently played a meaningless 6-test series against the Malaysian women's hockey team, winning the series 6-0. However, the role model for the Indian women's team should be the phenomenal Dutch women's hockey team, and the super-efficient Dutch hockey system.

While football is the undisputed no. 1 team sport in Netherlands, hockey comes in strong at no. 2. Netherlands has 240,000 registered men and women hockey players, and 800 artificial turf pitches in the country. A club like Rotterdam, for example, alone has 7 artificial turf pitches in one single complex.

Netherlands has a professional women's hockey league, the best in the world. India has no professional sports league for hockey, or for that matter for any other sport. Sports in India is very much a male-centric domain.

Netherlands has successfully organised 3 Women's World Cup tournaments. The Hague, venue of the 2014 World Cup, was fully bedecked with Let Us Celebrate Hockey flags, and other World Cup hoardings. They were seen everywhere, on lamp posts, across water bodies, on buses. In contrast, India has organised not a single women's hockey tournament at the world level.

More than 250,000 tickets were sold for the 2014 Men's/Women's World Cup at The Hague. The stands were full with 15,000 fans when the Netherlands women's hockey team played in the Kyocera stadium in the World Cup. This will never happen in India, where the crowd will number a few hundred for a women's hockey World Cup game involving India, and a few handful for a women's hockey World Cup game not involving India.

Netherlands has won 7 Gold (1974, 1978, 1983, 1986, 1990, 2006, 2014), 4 Silver (1981, 1998, 2002, 2010) and 1 Bronze (1976) in the 13 Women's World Cups held so far. India has never won any medal in the Women's World Cup.

The Dutch women not only won the 2014 World Cup, but also most of the tournament awards - Ellen Hoog was named the Player of the Tournament, Maartje Paumen was the Top Goal Scorer of the Tournament, while Kim Lammers won the Goal of the Tournament.

As German women's hockey international Julia Müller put it, "I have played professional women's hockey in the Netherlands for the past 7 years. The Dutch are hockey mad. It does not matter which country is playing, the public turns out to watch. They are here from early in the morning until late at night. It would not be the same anywhere else."

Why can't India be like Netherlands when it comes to women's hockey? Maybe Indian society has to change first, and become truly gender-equal in sports.

Indian Women's Hockey Team Blank Malaysia 6-0 In 6-Test Series

The Indian Women's Hockey Team, Photograph courtesy Hockey India

he Indian women's team played a 6-test series against Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur between June 9-17, 2014, as part of their preparations for the 2014 Commonwealth Games and Asian Games.

Malaysia proved to be pushovers, and perhaps not ideal preparation for India for the upcoming global/continental events. India swept the series 6-0, with the match results as follows:

Date Result Goal Scorers (India)
June 9 India 5 - Malaysia 0 Rani (19, 50 min)
Ritu Rani (27 min)
Gurjeet Kaur (42 min), PC
Ritusha Arya (67 min)
June 10 India 2 - Malaysia 0 Anuradha Devi (10 min)
Poonam Rani (28 min)
June 12 India 4 - Malaysia 0 Anupa Barla (5 min)
Jaspreet Kaur (22 min), PC
Vandana Katariya (59 min)
Amandeep Kaur (69 min)
June 14 India 3 - Malaysia 0 Anupa Barla (38 min)
Ritusha Arya (45 min)
Namita Toppo (65 min
June 15 India 2 - Malaysia 0 Ritusha Arya (12 min)
Vandana Katariya (35 min)
June 17 India 5 - Malaysia 2 Poonam Rani (3 min)
Sunita Lakra (14 min), PC
Anuradha Devi (28 min)
Ritusha Arya (34, 35 min)

The Indian team for the 6-test Malaysia series was as follows:

Goalkeepers: Yogita Bali, Savita Punia

Defenders: Deepika (vice-captain), Kirandeep Kaur, Sunita Lakra, Namita Toppo, Jaspreet Kaur, Gurjit Kaur, Asunta Lakra and Deep Grace Ekka

Midfielders: Ritu Rani (captain), Sushila Chanu, Lilima Minz, Vandana Katariya, Amandeep Kaur and Navjot Kaur

Forwards: Rani, Poonam Rani, Ritusha Arya, Anupa Barla, Anuradha Devi

Officials: Neil Hawgood (Chief Coach), Matthew Tredrea (Scientific Advisor)

Photograph of the Month

he Photograph of the Month for July 2014 is of the 1932 Indian Olympic hockey team - the first Indian sports team to make a round-the-world trip. Wizard Dhyan Chand is standing 5th from last in the photograph.

The trip was financed through a loan taken from Punjab National Bank, Kolkata.

The team started their round-the-world journey from Talaimannar in Tamil Nadu to Colombo, sailing on a small ferry steamer. From Colombo, the team travelled by the Japanese liner N. Y. K. Haruna Maru to Singapore. From Singapore, the ship set sail for Hong Kong via the South China Sea.

The next phase of the journey was from Hong Kong to Shanghai and then to Kobe in Japan. The team travelled by train from Kobe to Tokyo.

The team sailed from Yokohama by the Japanese liner Tatsuta Maru to San Francisco, via Honolulu. The last leg of the journey was from San Francisco to San Pedro (near Los Angeles) by ship. The Indian hockey team finally reached the Olympic Village, after a journey of 42 days!

After winning the Olympic hockey gold, the Indian hockey team went cross-country from Los Angeles to New York by train, via Salt Lake City, Omaha and Philadelphia.

From New York, the team sailed by the Mauritania to Southampton, England. From England, the team travelled to Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague and Budapest, to play matches against hockey teams in the Continent.

From Budapest, the team travelled to Vienna, Florence, Rome and Naples. The team sailed on the liner N. Y. K. Hakusan Maru from Naples to Colombo, and then back to Tamil Nadu, thus ending their round-the-world journey - the first ever by any Indian sports team.

Money Matters

ockey India asked the Bharatiya Khel Praadhikaran (SAI) for a budget of 38 crore for the year 2014-15. However, the SAI allocated only 10 crore, of which 9.69 crore was already spent in just 3 months - from April to June of 2014.

Hockey India was in no position to send Indian men's and women's teams to the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games this year. It was then that SAI Director General Jiji Thomson clarified that it is expecting more money from the government, for hockey and other sports.

Thomson said, "It is true that Hockey India was allocated only 10 crore for 2014-15. This was because we were given 155 crore by the government this year, just a marginal increase from last year, and so there was this fund constraint that impacted all sports. Now, we are working on the basis of money allocated on vote of account. Once the full budget is presented on July 10, we are hoping to get more money from government, at least 40 crore more. Once that is done, we will allocate additional money for hockey. There's no need to worry," said Thomson.

Note that the Government takes care of 75% of Hockey India's annual budget, with the rest 25% raised from sponsorship deals. The SAI bears the cost of training camps of national teams, international exposure trips and salaries to foreign coaches.

Hockey India has to bear the cost of the developmental teams, the SAI does not pay for them. For food and supplements, the SAI gives 250 per day per player, whereas Hockey India pays 450 per day per player, the balance being borne by the federation.

In perspective, hockey is the most pampered, non-cricket sport in India, getting the maximum money from the Government, and the maximum money from corporate sponsors (Hockey India gets 8.5 crore annually from Sahara and Cairn India) - without any medals to show for it.

Sports like shooting and wrestling have brought more medals for India at far lower government outlays, and minimal to none corporate sponsorships, as compared to hockey.

Media Matters

ootball has established itself as the no. 2 televised sport in India, after cricket. World Cup Football was telecast live in India by Sony Six, the same network that also broadcast the IPL T20 matches. A comparison of the viewership and advertisement rates is given in the table below:

Event Television Network India Viewership Advertisement Time Advertisement Rate
IPl T20 Sony Six/SET Max 190 million 2,400 seconds/match 5 lakh per 10 sec
Football World Cup Sony Six 65-70 million 900 seconds/match 2.5 lakh per 10 sec
Hockey World Cup TEN Sports ? ? ?

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) needs to be more sensible in holding the Hockey World Cup so close to the Football World Cup. The Indian media virtually shut out coverage of the Hockey World Cup, and gave fawning coverage to the Football World Cup.

Visitor of the Month

Marathon Hockey Club, Zagreb

he July 2014 Visitor of the Month is Domagoj Buza from Croatia, who wrote the following to

The Hockey Club Marathon was established in 1914 in Zagreb, and is one of the oldest hockey clubs in Croatia. We were champions and Cup winners in former Yugoslavia 2 times. Our road of success continued in Croatia. We were champions of Croatia 8 times and Cup winners 3 times. Marathon won the Indoor championship 13 times. This year the club celebrated its 100th birthday.

Fun With Numbers

Statistics by B. G. Joshi

he July 2014 edition of Fun with Numbers is on Indian men's and women's team records in the Commonwealth Games hockey competition.


The 2014 Men's Commonwealth Games hockey competition will be held in Glasgow between July 24 to August 3, 2014. A total of 10 countries are participating in the men's event, and are divided into 2 Pools of 5 teams each.

India is in Pool A, along with Australia (match on July 29), Scotland (July 26), South Africa (July 31) and Wales (July 25). The Indian men's match records against their Pool opponents in the Commonwealth Games are given below:

Country Played Won Lost Drawn Goals For Goals Against
Australia 3 0 3 0 4 18
Scotland 1 1 0 0 4 0
South Africa 2 2 0 0 4 1
Wales 1 1 0 0 6 3


The 2014 Women's Commonwealth Games hockey competition will be held in Glasgow between July 24 to August 2, 2014. A total of 10 countries are participating in the women's event, and are divided into 2 Pools of 5 teams each.

India is in Pool A, along with Canada (match on July 24), New Zealand (July 27), South Africa (July 30) and Trinidad & Tobago (July 28). The Indian women's match records against their Pool opponents in the Commonwealth Games are given below:

Country Played Won Lost Drawn Goals For Goals Against
Canada 2 2 0 0 4 0
New Zealand 4 2 2 0 4 7
South Africa 3 2 0 1 9 6
Trinidad & Tobago 2 2 0 0 14 1