‘Story of how they bounced back is great’

Ready with his first docu-series Bandon Mein Tha Dum, Neeraj on retelling India’s win of Border-Gavaskar Trophy against Aus

Director Neeraj Pandey took a stab at long-format storytelling with Special Ops (2020) and Special Ops 1.5: The Himmat Story (2021). Now, the filmmaker is exploring a docu-series with Bandon Mein Tha Dum. The four-part offering will chronicle the Indian cricket team’s 2-1 win against Australia that helped them retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2020-21. The pride of retelling India’s brilliant fightback led Pandey to helm the project. “We don’t do enough non-live cricket in India. Earlier, we didn’t know whom to make such stories for. Now, the format is undergoing a shift. This story was crucial because the team travelled to Australia amid a raging pandemic. The first test saw an abysmal performance, but the story of how they bounced back is great,” he shares.

In the first test in Adelaide, Virat Kohli-led India recorded only 36 runs in the second innings. It granted Australia an easy win, before captain Ajinkya Rahane led India to a glorious win in the second test. While the third test was a draw, the deciding fourth test saw Australia losing at The Gabba — their first test match loss at the ground since 1988. Pandey says he changed his style to service the story. “The format requires a certain kind of vocabulary. Getting the right cast was important. We needed the Australian and Indian players, people from the press, and a narrative peppered with information and anecdotes.” The offering features Rahane, Ravichandran Ashwin, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rishabh Pant, their coaches and journalists who covered the series.

Was there a no-go zone when retelling the episode? “No. We would’ve respected if they had decided to not answer something, but the situation didn’t arise. In fact, for fun, we asked everyone who was a better captain — Rahane or Kohli?”

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