Nearly after a year, when all the excitements and hypes are over, here I’m to scream about Chak De India, arguably, India’s best sports film made ever. I watched it on DVD and cursed myself for missing it in theatres. Yeah… it’s too late to write about this film…but is there a timeline to appreciate a good cinema?
Kabir Khan (SRK), the captain of Indian Hockey Team, is misunderstood and labeled as a traitor by the media and people, when he misses his penalty shot against Pakistan in the final Hockey World Cup. Along with his mother, he goes for a self-imposed exile.
He returns back after seven years to coach the Indian Women Hockey Team, which exists for the sake of existence. After much hesitation and with no other choice left, the Hockey Board appoints him as the team coach. Kabir Khan gets a chance to prove the world his innocence, his passion for hockey and his undying love for the country, which is possible only if his team wins the world cup.
But the riffraff team consists of girls, who have many reasons for playing hockey except for the nation.
Is Kabir Khan’s innocence recognized by India? Is he able to coach the rag-tag bunch of girls? Does he give a new face to the underdog Indian Girls Hockey team? These questions will hold and rivet you till the end of this film.
Shimit Amin has beautifully crafted a gripping, emotionally-charged, and powerful film that will remain in your heart.
The film deserves appreciation for many things. Firstly, for reminding us our national sport hockey. India’s deep interest in cricket always makes me think of George Bernard Shaw. A lot must have gone in that genius mind before giving such a wonderful statement. Though, I’ve my own doubts as far as the players are concerned, but am 22,000% sure about the viewers. Also, I read somewhere that in the book India’s Unending Journey, Mark Tully, the author, mentions cricket as our national game (not sure whether he was sarcastic!).
(Excuse me for the deviation, couldn’t help it).
Secondly, for choosing women’s hockey team. In India when hockey itself is hardly given any importance, it’s needless to think about women’s hockey. But the film throws light on Indian Women (hockey) players and almost brings out all the facets of Indian women.
Thirdly, for its realistic approach. Though the story is a big cliché, Jaideep Sahini, has well-scripted the film breaking all other clichés of Hindi Cinema. There are many gorgeous girls and one super hero but no mushy romance, no love duets and no ostentatious heroism.
Though every character is well etched out and brilliantly weaved together, the egoistic Bindia Naik, the tomboy Komal, the hot-tempered Punjabi girl and the homemaker Vidya Sharma excel in their performance (may be because they have more screen time).
Kabir Khan’s unconventional methods to bring the - undisciplined, self-centered and veteran-novice divided - team together are brilliantly executed. For instance, when the team heads out for lunch, a boy teases the Manipuri girl and quarrel ensues, Kabir Khan, without involving himself, patiently waits for the girls to unite and bash up the boys. When the girls succeed, he says, “For the first time I’ve seen team spirit”. No wonder the film is used as a management training tool in business schools.
The scene that follows after the hockey match with Indian men’s team and many sequences in the second half of the film strike an emotional chord. Especially, when Komal calls and passes the ball to her personal-rival, Preeti, you can’t help but get goose bumps.
Sharukh Khan has added value to the film not just as a star but also as a matured actor. He beautifully expresses the emotions - humiliation, confidence, self-doubt, anticipation, fear, hope and leadership – just through his facial expressions and intense eyes, a laudable performance by King Khan.
There are quite a few dialogues which speak volumes about India. For instance, when the person, enrolling the names, welcomes the Manipuri girls and says, “You are our special guest” one of the girls retorts “Will you be happy to be treated as an alien in your own country”.
Sudeep Chatterjee’s cinematography and Amitabh Shukla’s editing are worth mentioning. Salim and Sulaiman’ music gives wings to the soaring spirit.
And finally, I appreciate the film for portraying the real villain. If you think its Bindia Naik or anyone else, you missed the point. The villain of the film is ‘I, the EGO’.
There were girls from Andhra, Jharkand, Manipur, Chandigarh, Railways, Punjab and many other states. I had a grudge, why not a player from Tamilnadu? But the thought just vaporized when Sharukh Khan chastises the players who introduced themselves with their state name.
The whole film teaches the importance of selflessness and the danger of being self-centered. That is what I loved about the film.
Everyone has a personal reason to play but only if we play as ONE, without any prejudice, hatred and division, we can succeed. This is the core message of Chak De India!