Hockey in the hills

Coorg is home to an annual inter-family hockey festival, where 200 Kodava families participate in the proceedings. Watch the 2013 edition of this tournament in Sandhya Kumar's documentary, Hockey In My Blood

On a muddy ground bordered by the lush rocky terrain in the southern hill district of Coorg (Kodagu), young boys begin a hockey tournament as a Kodava song plays in the background. When translated, it goes something like, ‘A festival has begun in Coorg, a big festival of Kodava families, Madanda family’s hockey name, The 2013 Hockey Festival.’ This scene is part of Hockey In My Blood, a documentary by Bangalore-based National Award-winning (for O Friend, This Waiting! in 2012) filmmaker Sandhya Kumar. Produced by Colour Glass Films, this 52-minute long documentary in English and Kodava Takk will be screened for the first time in Mumbai this weekend.

A still from Hockey In My Blood
A still from Hockey In My Blood

Every summer, Kodavas, a martial-tribal community native to Coorg, compete in a unique inter-family hockey festival with one of the families hosting the tournament. This documentary focuses on the 17th edition, hosted by Mandanda Family in 2013. “When I first heard about this tournament, I was fascinated that over 200 family-based teams come together to play such a match every year. When I did more research, I realised how few people knew about this event, even in Bangalore, and that a film on this subject had never been made before. For me, this seemed like a film that was waiting to be made,” elaborates Kumar who chose to showcase the Kodava social set up through her lens. “I wanted to look at Coorg’s society and its relationship with hockey, and show the role that hockey plays in their lives and mindsets,” she adds.

The film poster
The film poster

From individual players dribbling in the backyard of their coffee plantations to whole family teams practising in local school grounds, the film also includes the story of a 17-year-old girl Priya, who was made the captain, the very first time she played because she was the only girl. Even former Olympians like AB Subbaiah (former Indian goalkeeper) and CS Poonacha. “They speak with nostalgia about their young days in Coorg,” says Kumar.

Sandhya Kumar Filmmaker
Sandhya Kumar Filmmaker

In production for two years, Kumar travelled to Coorg several times with a crew of four members during the making. “One of the biggest challenges that we faced during our research was that there are no books or scholarly data that analyses the Kodava Hockey Festival from a sociological or historical perspective. So, we received the information only through meetings. My learning about the tournament itself was also primarily on the ground,” she sums up.

On: Today, 6.15 pm
At: Room 4, Main Campus, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Sion Trombay Road, Deonar.

On: August 29, 4 pm
At: RR Theatre, Films Division, Peddar Road.

Free Entry



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