Thursday, January 28, 2010

Page 6 -- "Keep Eye on Ball" Easdon's Squash Documentary -- Tournament of Champions 2010 Final Day

Page 6 -- Keep Eye on the Ball Documentary -- Tournament of Champions Final Day...
Media were invited to a private viewing of the Josh Easdon documentary on Hashim Kahn. It was really tough at times to sit through this. I think its intention was to show how squash bridged the gap between two distinctly different cultures at a time when there was great prejudice towards peoples from India/Pakistan by Great Britain. British Colonialism at its best. Not sure that is all that successful in the documentary, it's probably a documentary in and of itself. The world at the time, Europe in particular, was reeling from devastating impact of the War and I don't think a player from Pakistan winning the British Open really meant all that much at the time. I think the film is disjointed in that it wants to portray Hashim as a rags to riches story (through squash) along side this small squash player that in his own way was a political force, a David and Goliath story -- the latter probably not all that significant. To the world, it probably meant so little, to Hashim and Pakistan it meant a great deal, that is good and it is moving the tribute to that. Was Hashim an ambassador for squash or Pakistan or both, probably a great ambassador for squash. He lived for so long away from Pakistan but his accomplishment meant something to his country -- I was in India during the Beijing Olympics when India won its first gold medal. India was euphoric Probably the best part was that Hashim was able to see the world and play the best players.
But much of the film reminds me of a very well done home movie, or the kind of video you do for a family wedding. The film just falls flat, you will watch it, won't walk out, be polite and sit through it in the same way you would your hosts video of a vacation or family reunion.
The film does have it's moments, especially the early part in Pakistan and the courts where Hashim learned to play (courts like that) and the re-enaction of young Hashim and the club pro days was nicely done as well.
Many of the interviews repeat the same things over...noticeably missing was Jahangir, Jahnsher (not related) and Roshan (brother-in-law), who I believe was still alive at the time (he passed away a couple of years back). It does touch a bit on suggestion of bad feeling between Roshan and Hashim, Roshan, himself is a remarkable story of survival and danger at a time during the partition, when it was very dangerous for a Muslim to be in India. This was sort of glossed over, I once asked Hashim what he thought of Jahangir's game, he replied, just like his father, a retriever...
He is a gentle, peaceful man, wonderful charismatic man...but I wonder what the film was trying to accomplish. A documentary? Yes, but it is more just a video celebrating Hashim's life and many of the people whose hearts he's touched in his travels.
If you have a chance to see this, separate the Man from the Documentary, the Man, Hashim is wonderful to watch and listen to, but the Documentary is not so wonderful..
The historical stuff in the beginning, origins in squash, for the squash enthusiast, is very nice, and it is a bit obvious the sudden switch to Hashim's birthplace, what Easdon is trying to suggest -- a sport of privilege against the backdrop of a most unlikely place to produce a squash champion.
I think the highlight is at the end of the film, this wonderful bit, when Hashim is sitting in this big leather chair and simply says "I just loved the game" and he smiles, laughs a bit, that's all, that's all it was, it wasn't any of the other things brought into the film.

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