‘Chak De India’ is a beautifully made film that makes you laugh, makes you cry, gives you goose bumps, and stirs up patriotism inside you. It is a film that every lover of good cinema must watch.
It was during one of my daughter’s soccer games that I decided to watch it. She had just been beaten in a game, played the defense position instead of her favorite offense or forward position. Added to it was the verbal unsolicited tirade from her dad that she had to listen …..Poor soul. So, I had to do something for her, shall we say, self esteem and confidence to be restored.
I decided to use one of my audio-visual motivational techniques. Borrowed a copy of ‘Chak De India’ and got her to watch it the night before the game. What a move it was. She could relate to the importance of various positions, adversities faced at higher levels of competition, need to play rough when required and most of all inspirational teamwork. Long story short, she managed to score three goals and carried her team to victory AND played midfield as well as defense in the game and did so with aplomb.
‘Chak De India’ is not just a sports film. It is replete with myriad emotions. And the best part is that Shimit Amin tells the story very realistically, making it all the more believable. He also doesn’t bring any unnecessary dramatization into the story.
The movie has a number of intelligently conceived sequences. For instance, a sequence when the girl’s hockey team has to prove their mettle against the men’s team. The girls lose by a narrow margin, but they get an applause and salutation from male players. Or, another sequence when the girls bash up a bunch of eve teasers. These sequences and the last portions of the second half – when the crucial matches are played – evoke a flood of emotions inside a viewer.
I cannot recall a single dull moment in the film. From the word go, the movie grips you like a vice and keeps you riveted until the end credits roll. During this ‘Chak De’ ride, you go through myriad emotions. You empathize with the pain of the protagonist, cherish the clashes and camaraderie of the girls, and you are filled with an uplifting, charged-up feeling as you see the underdogs rise to the occasion.
My son gets so fired up with the title song that by playing it one could shake him out of a dull mood. I am not surprised that the stadium sang to this song in the recent 20/20 cricket match between India and Australia. That sure must have helped India win to some extent.
To cut to the chase, ‘Chak De India’ keeps you on the edge of your seat, even though it is a sports-based film and not a thriller.
The film’s story is simple and yet it carries so many undercurrents.
Kabir Khan (Shah Rukh), the best centre-forward in Indian hockey team, misses the crucial, last-minute penalty stroke against Pakistan and is blamed for the Indian team’s defeat in the finals. So much so, he is labeled gaddar (betrayer) by his own fellow countrymen. Disgraced and dishonored for one momentary failure, Kabir Khan leaves his parental house with his mother and disappears into oblivion.
Seven years later he appears again, not as a player but as a coach of a bunch of girls in whom even the Hockey Federation has no confidence. Kabir Khan has just three months to coach and train these girls for the Hockey World Cup in Australia.
The girls come from all over India – Haryana, Chandigarh, Punjab, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, North East and other states.
On the outside, Kabir Khan is very strict with the girls. Through his toughness he wants to instill discipline and integrity in the team, something which is significantly missing.
Within the team, there is hardly any camaraderie. There are usual girlie fights and arguments. Somebody is egoistic, somebody too self-centered, somebody is hot-tempered and somebody is simply naïve.
Using very unconventional methods, Kabir Khan manages to create a team spirit among the girls. But some differences remain, only to be sorted out in the World Cup tournament in Australia, which the team must win to make India proud. But Kabir Khan is fighting for more than pride for India. For him the victory would bring redemption (for his momentary failure 7 years ago) and reclamation of his lost honor. And when that moment of reckoning does come, he looks on with disbelief in his teary eyes.
A constant thread of humor runs through the film’s narrative. The humor is vernacular, and genuinely funny at that. The funniest of the lot is the rustic Haryanavi girl Komal (Chitrashi Rawat) and the hot-tempered Punjabi girl Balbir Kaur (Tanya Abrol).
The superstar doesn’t go overboard in his performance in ‘Chak De’– there is no quivering of lips and no heavy breathing. Using his facial expressions and intense eyes to his advantage, with utmost conviction SRK plays a man simmering and seething within. Undoubtedly, this one is a praiseworthy performance from the King Khan.
At the end of the day, ‘Chak De India’ is a deeply touching film that offers plenty for you to carry home with.
Do yourself a favor, go and see this film. It is a must-watch. If any of you visit India and get your hands on a legal copy, send me one. This one, like Lagaan, is a collectible.