I just saw Chak De India and I have to admit it is a fine movie. A bit melodramatic, but surprisingly down to earth and true to life for a Yash Raj Films venture.
We have all heard of such stories and watched many movies on this theme. A ragtag bunch of sportsmen come together to form a dream team. It is a tried and tested formula and it has almost always worked. However the question is, will it work for a game like hockey?
The answer is yes. Shahrukh, is Kabir Khan, one of India’s finest centre forwards. Its the finals of the Hockey World cup, and he misses the decisive penalty which costs India the gold. He is accused of match fixing and retires into obscurity after being branded a traitor by an unforgiving public.
7 years later, the Indian Hockey Association needs a coach for the women’s hockey team for the World Championship. Enter Kabir Khan, who feels this is his one chance for redemption. The attitude of the association is, these women are going to come back in the first round itself, so why even bother? Kabir thinks otherwise and is determined to prove his point.
In the training camp, he becomes a strict disciplinarian, as he almost kills the girls during training. He brings them together as a team, teaching them to put the team ahead of their egos. They hate him at first, but soon realize his good intentions and start to believe in themselves. A stuttering start to the cup, then a resurgence, sees the team enter the nerve wrecking finals, and the rest is history.
What I really liked about the movie is the cast, and the relentless cricket bashing. For the second point alone, I am ready to give this movie a 5 on 5. I loved the way the team members are portrayed. Like the two girls from the North East, who are called Chinese or Nepali by the rest of “us” or the girls from Jharkhand, who cannot speak proper Hindi. They are stereotyped but I think that was required to get the message across that it is the country that is important, not the state.
What I did not like, was the unnecessary melodrama and the predictable dialogues.
But overall, it was a decent film. Shahrukh was good, but hammed it a bit in the middle. This movie seems to be a somewhat accurate reflection of the attitude of people, and the authorities, towards hockey. A cricketer even calls it Gilli Danda. Also women are always looked down upon when it comes to Indian sports. The conditions they train in are truly appalling. The movie also seems to prove one thing – people have short memories because immediately after the team’s triumphant return, the public forgets all about his missed penalty and fall in love with him again.
Definitely worth a watch. I would say, 3.5 on 5.