A sixer doesn’t count in the high-stakes world of gully cricket. Worse, it can lead to instant dismissal. It’s why residents of Ankur Society have hung up a banner with the number ‘6’ painted on it. Hit the high-reaching target and the score will be allowed. Miss and you’ll be back to bench. It’s a neat solution, but do the gains outweigh the risks?
Aakash (Rajat Barmecha) has grown up idolising the sixer. At 26, he still believes in going for broke, becoming the face of an upcoming underarm cricket league or nothing at all. His father, who encouraged him into the sport but has lately given up on the boy, forces him to sit for regular job interviews. When he refuses to bend, his sister, Aditi (Radhika Madan), challenges him in a gully tournament. If she beats him, Aakash will have to do his father’s bidding. It’s a test for Aditi too; she has grown up in her brother’s shadow. We sense a whole life spent unsuccessfully matching up to an older sibling; her nickname, stenciled onto her childhood bat... is ‘ditto’.
Kacchey Limbu (Hindi)
Aditi puts together a team, a ragtag bunch compared, in a funny scene, to the hicks from Lagaan (2001). She names them ‘Kacchey Limbu’ — unripe fruit. As uttered by Radhika Madan in a listless fashion, the name rings oddly sad, spurning the spirited vibe of most underdog films. Kacchey Limbu, we realise, is not about the exhilaration of a singular sport. It is, rather, a film about the oppressive nature of dreams, and the weight they can place on our souls. Aditi plods through cricket, Bharatnatyam, and medical college prep. She says she wants to be a fashion designer, but even of that we can’t be sure. Aakash is no more at peace in his single-minded pursuit of cricketing fame. When asked by a girl what he would change about his childhood, his response is honest and pained. “To not be told I can become anything I want,” he answers dolefully.
Written and directed by Shubham Yogi, Kacchey Limbu premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2022; it is streaming now on JioCinema. The film recalls a strand of small-budget ‘colony’ films Hindi cinema has lost interest in (a recent exception was Jaadugar on Netflix). The final tournament is modest but engaging, despite cinematographer Piyush Puty’s frantic line-crossing. Rajat Barmecha is spiky and commanding as the hot-headed Aakash. Madan refurbishes one of half of her Supri from Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota. Given the high-strung emotions and truculent family dynamics, the film is centered by the presence of Ayush Mehra, as a soft slacker who joins up with Aditi.
In the final shot, we see characters riding bikes on open Mumbai streets. It’s an exhilarating break from the boxed-in cricket pitches and homes (Aditi sleeps on a pull-out bed with her parents). Like a gifted spin bowler, Yogi holds his film in a twist, then lets loose.
Kacchey Limbu is currently streaming on JioCinema