Cricket and family drama come alive in Netflix's ‘Selection Day’


  • TV
  • Thursday, 27 Dec 2018

Encounter

While Selection Day revolves around the contemporary world of cricket in India, it is not solely about the popular sport.

Rather, the Hindi series is a coming-of-age story about two brothers growing up with a domineering father while trying to find their place in the world.

Executive producer Anand Tucker, who was in Singapore for a Netflix event last month, explained: “It’s about teenage love and expression, family- and school-life, as well as sporting glory. It’s a story about what modern life is for young people today and the choices they have or don’t have.

“It’s about who controls your destiny and whether you can take the rein of your own destiny.”

Director Udayan Prasad added: “The main characters are in their teens, and that’s a fantastic age to be. That’s when you discover who your influences are, who your buddies are going to be. It’s a time you try to hear your inner voice and figure out who you are going to be ... that is the heart of this story.”

The eight-episode series – based on the 2016 novel by Aravind Adiga – definitely spoke to the young actors Mohammad Samad and Yash Dholye, who play brothers Manju and Radha Kumar respectively, said Prasad.

He shared: “When they came in for the audition, they came up to me and said, ‘I completely connect with this and really want to do it.’ As a director, what more can you ask.”

Brothers Manju and Radha have no choice but to follow their dad who’s intent that they become successful cricketers. — Netflix

Even though some of the younger cast members are acting for the first time in Selection Day – – director Prasad believes they will be around in the industry for a long time.

“Yash Dholye, who has never acted before, is phenomenal and very enthusiastic about the story and his role,” he said.

“It was amazing to see the young cast grow ... watch out for these guys.

“All of the cast members really bonded during the production. They hung out together and looked out for each other. They became like a family and the quality of work were natural (because of it).”

Selection Day unfolds with dad (Rajesh Tailang) forcing his obsession with cricket on his teenage sons. He makes sure they work hard to become national-level cricketers, which is a lucrative career in India.

As the boys show potential, they are uprooted from their rural surroundings to Mumbai and placed under an enthusiastic coach.

And through it all, the two teenagers have no choice but to go along with their father’s plan despite one of them not even liking the sport and is grappling with identity issues.

Tucker said: “Selection Day is an authentic story that grows out of India, but it has universal themes that speak to everybody around the world.

“The dilemma of being a teenager – who am I and what is my world? – are issues relatable to youths everywhere.”

At the same time, he said, it was important that Selection Day retained its location and the language.

Shot in Mumbai, the production showcased the poorest and the richest, something that is reflected in the book.

“The beautiful thing about the story, there is almost a Dickensian sweep to it: It takes a knife and cuts through Mumbai from the highest to the lowest, and explores how one small event can affect someone from the top to the bottom. We are all interlinked,” stated Tucker.

According to him, Selection Day doesn’t have to end with just one season.

“We are hoping for more seasons, as there are other stories running concurrently with the brothers’ relationship in Aravind Adiga’s novel.”

Selection Day premieres on Dec 28 on Netflix.

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