German scoop for Indian hockey

Chinmaye Bhave’s Stick to Dreams documents a German woman’s passion to start a hockey school in Rajasthan

Q. How did the idea for Stick to Dreams come to you?
A. After working for nearly four years as a sports journalist (a large part of my work was being a cricket correspondent), I had developed a soft corner for field hockey. I wanted to learn the craft of film-making, which is a more enduring story form, as compared to TV news. So, I decided to make a film on Indian hockey. I did through fieldwork to understand the culture of hockey. I realised that there is a bigger story with universal appeal, one where every passionate hockey fan is seeing a dream and must swim against the tide. Andrea’s (Thumshirn) story moved me even more because she does not even have to be proud of Indian hockey. She is a German national who gave up her cosy and comfortable life there to nurture a hockey village in India. She partnered with a bright young Indian woman, Varsha Sharma, to launch a school in Rajasthan. This story had to be told. It was my graduation project for my Master of Design programme at IIT Bombay.

Andrea Thumshirn came as a German tourist and stayed on to create a hockey school
Andrea Thumshirn came as a German tourist and stayed on to create a hockey school

Q. What kind of research did the film require?
A. The most interesting thing about this film was that the research and the actual shooting wasn’t separate. There was no script or no screenplay. I stayed in the hockey village for more than a couple of months, travelled with the kids everywhere. I observed and shot with a DSLR; I would record the audio simultaneously. I needed to read up a lot about observational and ethnographic films.

Stills from the film
Stills from the film

Q. Tell us about some of your experiences/interactions in and around the hockey village?
Becoming a part of the hockey village was essential. It was fun to play with the kids (and participate in village weddings, too!). We visited Ranthambhore National Park with the hockey team as well. I learnt to milk buffaloes and looked after Andrea’s pups. I was also a part-time driver for a couple of days and ferried examination papers.

Q. Apart from raising funds, what were some of the challenges you faced?
A. I wanted the camera to become invisible. I did not want to go with a big production team and disturb people out of their daily life. I wanted to be a fly on the wall. This meant that I had to shoot alone using a small DSLR, which was mostly handheld with a microphone to sync audio. Recording sounds without an audio crew was not easy. I was shooting for about a couple of hours every day so editing this film is not going to be easy. Hence, I would like to team up with an independent professional editor and a music composer who will be able to compliment the emotional texture of this film. About the personal learning curve, I had to unlearn TV journalism and think like a filmmaker, look for visual motifs and say more
through images.

Q. What is the status of the project and where does it go from here?
A. About 80% of the shoot is over. The remaining part will be shot in Rajasthan, at a new academy in Goa and
perhaps, in Germany. It needs to be edited and packaged with good music and sent to film festivals. I hope to release it digitally on the web for all to see.

Q. What are Indian hockey’s biggest hurdles that stall us from returning to the golden days?
A. A lot is being done at the national and international level but we still lack support in terms of sports medicine and sports psychology. Also, at the grassroots level, there is a lack of good infrastructure. India lack a sports culture. There’s a lot more that needs to be done.

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