Capturing a career: Viswanathan Anand's remarkable journey to be celebrated in biopic

Viswanathan Anand recently released his autobiography 'Mind Master' in collaboration with ESPN's Susan Ninan. AFP PHOTO/THOMAS SAMSON

Five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand will soon have his story captured in a biopic. ESPN understands that Anand, who turns 51 on Friday, December 11, has signed a contract with Mumbai-based production house Sundial Entertainment and the project will be helmed by Aanand L Rai, who has directed Tanu weds Manu and Raanjhanaa, among others, and produced Mukkabaaz, a sports movie.

It is learnt that Anand received several biopic offers in the recent past before he finally agreed to this particular project. The cast is still being finalised and the movie is likely to hit the floors next year.

Anand, with his attacking style of play, stormed the Soviet bastion of chess in the 90s and his journey from being India's first Grandmaster to World Champion, battling raging politics and a split chess world, has been nothing short of extraordinary.

Remarkable still is his resilience and longevity. He has proved his worth as world champion in different formats of the title event over the years and even after over three decades into his competitive career, Anand still holds a top-15 spot. It is understood that the biopic will touch upon the significant highlights of his career, bringing to life some of his best-known World Championship contests.

For Anand, the pandemic-induced break has turned out to be a bit of an odd space in the final lap of his career. He is both still competitive and dabbling in post-retirement pursuits like teaching his wife Aruna how to play chess on a storytelling app and mentoring a bunch of young Indian GMs and IMs. When Anand learnt of IM Leon Mendonca still competing in over-the-board tournaments in Europe and chasing a final GM norm, he promptly got in touch with the teenager and offered to have a session with him. He also invited three Indian young GMs -- D Gukesh, Nihal Sarin and Raunak Sadhwani to join in the two-hour discussion earlier this month, going over games, exchanging ideas and sharing his learnings. It is a role he sees himself assuming more often and in greater organised fashion in the years ahead.

Chess today finds itself in an interesting, thriving space with the proliferation of streamers and online chess. The spectacular success of the Netflix series 'Queen's Gambit' globally has prised open a market for visual chess content like never before. Anand's journey -- from underdog to champion in a sport whose epicentre was removed from India -- is the story of dogged perseverance and belief, and it's about to be told.