Set against the backdrop of the fierce cricketing realm of India, Netflix’s Selection Day is a heartfelt coming of age story that impeccably captures the adolescent confusion amidst dreams, sexuality, God and more.
“When I first read the book, I thought it’d be a really good film”, says Karan Boolani, the co-creator and producer of the show, who also directed the latter half of the series. Based on Indo-Australian author Aravind Adiga’s 2016 book of the same name, the show chronicles the tale of brothers Manju (Mohammad Samad) and Radha (Yash Dholye). Their authoritarian father, played brilliantly by Rajesh Tailang, is on a ruthless quest to turn his boys into cricketing stars. The talented cast further consists of Mahesh Manjrekar, Ratna Pathak Shah and Shiv Pandit in pivotal roles.
“You need a strong voice to navigate yourself through the plot and the characters”, says Karan, referring to the writer and co-creator of the show, Marston Bloom. Before the likes of Netflix and Amazon entered India’s bloodstream, creators like Karan and Marston were in one way or another stifled by the system. These OTT platforms now serve as the liberal spaces for dynamic and bold storytelling.
For instance, the show delicately explores Manju’s sexuality through his budding romance with his brother’s rival, Javed Ansari (Karanvir Malhotra). While both civic bodies and the creative community are slowly showing support for the LGBTQ community, Selection Day uses the prism of a masculine sport like cricket to explore homosexuality, and that makes it stand out. “A lot of the times, it’s not what you say, but how you say it. I believe sports is inclusive of sexuality. However, I think sexuality should embrace sports and not the other way around.”, says Karan. It also asks the bigger question – how inclusive is India’s sporting industry?
The show also sheds light on some of our cultural ideals – how ‘success’ in an industrialized field like cricket is used as a tool for social mobility by aspirants and dreamers across the country. The show also captures the ugly side of the stage mom, how parental pressure on unreasonable goals can lead to dysfunctionality and mental trauma. “Every parent wants the best for their kids. But sometimes they may not know the right way to go about it. The parents have to let the children decide no matter how long it takes. It’s their choice. The parents need to have the confidence and the nurturing ability to let the kids make their own decisions.”
With universal themes like these, Selection Day is sure to engage audiences across the globe. If you haven’t seen it already, go binge it on Netflix today!
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