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Cricket, Football and Literature: Top 10 Sports Films Based on Books

Writer Smita Das Jain recommends the 12 best fiction books for working professionals

The world of sports has long captivated the imagination of both readers and viewers alike, weaving tales of triumph, perseverance, and human spirit. This fascination extends beyond the stadiums and fields, finding a cherished place in literature with a rich tradition that resonates globally. Reading fiction has its benefits for working professionals, even otherwise. In India, a country where cricket is akin to a religion and football clubs inspire fierce loyalty, sports literature has flourished, offering a plethora of stories that capture the essence of various games and the lives intertwined with them.

Adapting these powerful narratives from page to screen is no small feat. It involves capturing the physicality and excitement of the sports and translating the characters' emotional depth and personal journeys. The unique challenges in this process often lead to cinematic masterpieces that stay true to the spirit of the original works while bringing something new and thrilling to the audience.

Beyond the Game: 10 Sports-Themed Movies Adapted from Books That Explore Life's Biggest Challenges

In exploring the top 10 sports films based on books, we dive into a diverse range of sports and book genres. From gripping biographies and heartfelt autobiographies to imaginative fiction, these films transcend the boundaries of mere athletic prowess. They narrate stories of determination, heartbreak, and victory, reflecting the multifaceted nature of sports and the indomitable human spirit.

Let's discover which books leapt from the written word to the silver screen, capturing the hearts of sports fans and cinephiles alike.

1. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, 2013

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"Bhaag Milkha Bhaag" is not just a film; it's a cinematic homage to one of India's most legendary athletes. Released in 2013, this biographical sports drama captivates with its portrayal of Milkha Singh's life, a story of resilience and determination.

The movie delves into the life of Milkha Singh, a national champion runner and an Olympian, chronicling his journey from a tragic childhood during the partition of India to becoming one of the country's most iconic athletes. It reflects the societal challenges of post-independence India, highlighting themes of loss, perseverance, and the unyielding human spirit in the face of adversity.

Filmmakers adapted the film from Milkha Singh's autobiography, "The Race of My Life," co-authored with his daughter Sonia Sanwalka. The author writes the book in English, offering a personal and in-depth look at the life of the "Flying Sikh."

2. Mary Kom, 2014

Author Smita Das Jain recommends this fiction working professionals

Released in 2014, "Mary Kom" is a powerful narrative that transcends the sport of boxing to tell a story of unwavering courage and personal triumph.

This film tells the inspiring story of Mary Kom, a boxer from Manipur who became a five-time World Amateur Boxing champion. It showcases her struggles and achievements, reflecting the challenges faced by women in sports, particularly in a society that often sets boundaries for them.

Filmmakers based the movie on "Unbreakable," an autobiography of Mary Kom, co-written with Dina Serto. The book, written in English, provides a deeply personal insight into the life of the celebrated boxer and the obstacles she overcame in her journey to greatness.

3. Dangal, 2016

Writer and Life Coach Smita Das Jain recommends To Kill a Mockingbird for Working Professionals

"Dangal," released in 2016, is more than just a sports drama; it is a tale of feminist empowerment set against the backdrop of wrestling.

The film focuses on the true story of Mahavir Singh Phogat, a wrestler who trains his daughters, Geeta and Babita, to become India's first world-class female wrestlers. It challenges societal norms and gender stereotypes, showcasing the journey of overcoming societal hurdles to achieve success in a male-dominated sport.

The movie draws inspiration from "Akhada: The Authorised Biography of Mahavir Singh Phogat and His Daughters," written in English by Saurabh Duggal. This biography provides a factual basis for the narrative, emphasizing the dedication and sacrifices of the Phogat family.

4. M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story, 2016

Author and Executive Coach recommends The Kite Runner for working professionals

The 2016 film "M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story" offers an insightful look into the life of one of cricket's greatest legends.

This biographical sports film portrays the life of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, from his early days in Ranchi to his meteoric rise as the captain of the Indian national cricket team. It highlights the challenges individuals from humble backgrounds face in achieving their dreams in the competitive world of sports.

The film draws from two books - "The Dhoni Touch" by Bharat Sundaresan and "Captain Cool: The MS Dhoni Story" by Gulu Ezekiel. The authors write both books in English, providing a detailed account of Dhoni's life and career, offering a blend of personal anecdotes and professional insights.

5. Moneyball, 2011

Author Smita Das Jain recommends the book thief for working professional

"Moneyball," released in 2011, is not just a sports film; it's a story about challenging conventional wisdom and redefining the game of baseball.

The movie depicts the innovative approach of Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland Athletics baseball team, in assembling a competitive team despite a limited budget. It underscores the themes of innovation, strategy, and the underdog spirit in a sport governed by tradition and financial power.

Filmmakers adapted the film from Michael Lewis's book "Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game," written in English. The book offers an in-depth look at the Oakland Athletics' 2002 season and Beane's revolutionary team-building approach.

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6. Kai Po Che!, 2013

Writer Smita Das Jain recommends this book for Working Professionals

The 2013 film "Kai Po Che!" beautifully captures the essence of friendship, dreams, and the love for cricket in India.

Set against the backdrop of cricket, the film explores the journey of three friends in Gujarat who aspire to start their own sports academy. It touches upon themes of communal harmony, personal ambition, and the impact of socio-political events on individuals' lives.

The filmmakers based this movie on Chetan Bhagat's novel "The 3 Mistakes of My Life," written in English. The book provides a fictional yet relatable narrative that intertwines the passion for cricket with the complexities of life in India.

7. Invictus, 2009

Author Smita Das Jain recommends the sports movie Invictus

"Invictus," released in 2009, is more than a sports film; it is a testament to the unifying power of rugby in a nation divided by apartheid.

Theme and Society's Challenge: The film portrays the inspiring true story of how Nelson Mandela used the 1995 Rugby World Cup to unite South Africa. It showcases the power of sports in bridging societal divides and fostering national reconciliation.

Based on: Filmmakers adapted the movie from John Carlin's book "Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game that Changed a Nation," written in English. The book delves into Mandela's strategic use of rugby to heal a nation and create a shared identity.

8. The Zoya Factor, 2019

Writer and Personal Empowerment Life Coach recommends this book for writing professionals

Released in 2019, "The Zoya Factor" blends cricket with a touch of romantic comedy, offering a unique cinematic experience.

This film revolves around the life of Zoya, an advertising agent who becomes a lucky charm for the Indian cricket team. It humorously explores themes of superstition and chance in sports, reflecting the societal obsession with luck and destiny.

Filmmakers adapted the movie from Anuja Chauhan's English novel "The Zoya Factor." The book presents a quirky and entertaining story that combines the enthusiasm of cricket with the unpredictability of love and luck.

9. Million Dollar Baby, 2004

Author and Executive Coach recommends this book for professional development of working professionals

"Million Dollar Baby," released in 2004, is a poignant tale of ambition, mentorship, and boxing.

The film tells the story of an underdog female boxer and her journey to success under the guidance of a veteran trainer. It addresses themes of gender roles in sports, the pursuit of dreams, and the harsh realities of the boxing world.

The movie is an inspiration from the short story collection "Million Dollar Baby" by F.X. Toole. Written in English, these stories offer a gritty and realistic portrayal of life inside and outside the boxing ring.

10. The Damned United, 2009

Smita Das Jain recommends this book for professional development for working professionals

The 2009 film "The Damned United" is a dramatic depiction of the controversial yet fascinating world of football management.

It focuses on the tumultuous 44-day tenure of Brian Clough as the manager of Leeds United in 1974. The film explores ambition, rivalry, and leadership pressure in professional football.

This movie is an adaptation from David Peace's novel "The Damned Utd," written in English. The book offers a fictionalised yet compelling account of Clough's brief and eventful time with Leeds United, blending historical facts with imaginative storytelling.

The Last Word- Books Have a Role in Fostering Sporting Culture

Delving into books isn’t just an escape from the daily grind; it’s a strategic tool for working professionals. In cinema, sports-based films have a unique power to inspire, uplift, and foster a deep appreciation for the world of athletics. Through their compelling narratives, these films have not only celebrated the glory of victory but also shed light on the profound challenges that athletes face in their journeys. They have brought to the forefront the importance of determination, teamwork, and unwavering spirit, transcending the boundaries of sports to resonate with the human experience

So, the next time you watch a sport-based cinematic marvels, remember that the movie gracing the silver screen is but a window into the story that originally graced the pages of a book. And, if you want a more profound look into the minds and lives of these remarkable sportspersons you admire, read the source book for a deeper connection with your idols.

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Let's continue to celebrate and support the written word and the silver screen as they foster a sporting culture that inspires future generations.

Smita Das Jain is a writer by passion and writes every day. Her debut short story collection, 'A Slice of Life', was named among India’s top three fiction works by Writefluence, and her debut novel, 'A Price to Love', found a mention in DelhiWire’s Top 50 books of 2022. She is also the first-prize winner of the prestigious Bharat Award for Literature-2023 for her short story ‘Purchased Love’, and the only Asian to be named in the Top 20 flash fiction winners list in the Spring 2022 contest of the prestigious US-based Women On Writing (WOW!) magazine for women writers. Her award-winning short stories have been featured in prominent anthologies and literary ezines around the globe. You can learn more about Smita’s writings at

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