chak de india: review

“I firmly believe that any mans finest hour – his great fulfilment to ll he holds dear – Is that moment, when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the battlefieldvictorious.”

Vince Lombardi
1913 – 1970

The best sports films of the world are the ones that let the viewers experience the pains, trials and tribulations the sportsperson goes through and of course the jubilation in the final hardearned victory. This movie is quite simply the story of a wronged Indian captain who comes back to redeem himself. Its an amazing movie to watch considering that the cast having the most time on-screen are fairly wooden actors barring a few.

Coming to ShahRukh, its hard not to feel the empathy with a wronged sportsperson. Frightful even looking at our faint reflections in the movie, the Indian populace with the memories of a goldfish and the tempers of a mad raging bull and the IQs of a flock of blind sheep. Its refresing to see ShahRukh rising from his cynical, selfoccupied self in KANK to a extremely restrained mature performance. Kabir Khan, the role that he essayed has to undergo all the following feelings all at once: fear of failure, self-doubt, anticipation, expectations, leadership, unwavering confidence… Its a far cry from his role of Swades where it was a leader showing a direction; here I was completely blown away by the multilayered interpretation of the character. I tip my hat to the maestro. He is a treat to watch.

Now to the heroes of this tale – the ladies. 16 of them and whatta fun! Its tough not falling in love with each of them. I had to scream hoarse and root for each of them in each of the matches. It was refreshing to see the sincerity in each of their performance. Seeing them on screen giving hockey to each of the folks, it was tough not to even think of the odds that each of them were playing against. The gutsiness in the performances. I cant but not betray my geeky roots but 80% of the screen time is hogged by 20% of the players… but then the others do get a very justified roles. And yes, to see each of them appearing in the sarees in the dinner before in the final playoff – just had to give it to them and the nine-yard garment, they looked beaaautiful, radiant almost to the point of making me awestruck.

And now to the real heroes of the movie – Jaideep Sahni (Story, Dialogues and Screenplay) and Shimit Amin (Direction). Sports films like these are always filled with unavoidable cliches – underdog taking a one and a million shot at glory and success, the fight against all odds and seeminly unsurmountable problems, fallen heroes seeking redemption. And in spite of all this Chak De works for me, much better than Lagaan. It would be a unforsaken sin to speak so, but then couldnt help it, Lagaan had so much going in favor of it – known faces of actors, cricket which every kid knows in India, plays and connects to it emotionally, and of course the eternal jaani dushmani with England. Chak De could have easily rotted into a mind numbingly drubbing film where the women could have easily been made unpolished diamonds heroes by themselves, discovered by the coach and made invincible. But the screenplay is just taut and the amount of work that has gone into individual characterization is extremely detailed. Just look at the dry wit in Kabir Khan’s character, as a result of 7 years of self-imposed exile (of which the user knows nothing about!), a result of a system that has completely let him down. The almost despotic need to redeem himself.

And the film is highly relevant socially too…

  • the subtle ways it highlights the gender roles played out by men and women and their dynamics
  • players that first define themselves by their own states instead of the country
  • the sorry treatment meted out to our national game! and in particular the women’s games in general
  • the flak that is taken by a captain who is a muslim. It is almost like the Muslims have to prove themselves as patriots to the nation every effing time.
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23 thoughts on “chak de india: review

  1. great review!! and i am with you on lagaan… liked it somehow it didn’t work for me. chak de i am guessing falls more towards swades than lagaan. will watch.

  2. @kunal
    yes go for it. but i doubt if you will get any tickets. im guessing all the tickets should have been gone by now. i saw it in vimal yest and we had to buy the 35/- ticket for 70/-. im sure you will have to shell much higher, considering its a holiday and this is the only movie worth watching now.

    @kaukab
    yes have to give it to you. this movie is strictly from the coach’s PoV, his pain, anguish, FUD… no other than SRK could have carried it. and of course, for a movie like this having SRK helps us dimwits the reason to go and watch it in the first place!

    @sreejith
    thanks 😀 i dunno, lagaan worked for me in the theatre then, but frankly it was a single layered film. cmon it was a sports film that had romance, villians, dances and songs!!!

    yes please do watch. and tell me if it worked for you.

  3. Loved the movie and the way it would touch a chord with anyone… it deals with (not deeply-deals-with, just brush-by-deals-with) so many things – opression of women, east-india problem, ‘all south indians are tams’ prejudice, hockey Vs cricket, hindu Vs muslim… its all there in one crisp movie. You could not help falling in love with Komal, the haryanvi kid.

    The screenplay was awesome – it would tie a non sports enthusiast to the screen for 3 hours. A bit long though you dont realize that till you are out of theater. It is a good hollywood quality sports film.

  4. Your review has done justice to the film… Personally i feel this is Shahrukh BEST performance till date..He is one of the finest actors of Bollywood.. All the girls were FABULOUS… i cant stop commending them for the job they have done. Preethi was MY favorite though and Bindia was so very convincing. A MUST watch for all.. those who know the national game and also for those who DONT ( like me ) 🙂

  5. Pingback: Googled and Doodled on Independence Day … | Saumil's Babble Belt

  6. awesome movie…touched upon lot of social n sports issues in style…i am a cricket member of my college IIT D..and m seriousely giving a thought to try my hand on stick now…God please send some1 like preeti sabarwal in the movie to inspire me more[:P]

  7. On the onset before embarking on my write up, I would love to congratulate the writer by demonstrating excellent narrative skills in the reviews. After viewing the movie during the early stage of its release, I was apprehensive whether this beautiful film would see the daylights at the box office. Congratulation to the Indian Public prudence, they aptly flocked to the theatres and strike the much-needed goal through just SMSs and by word to mouth.

    From time to time, we been treated to sports movies in the form of Hip Hip Hurray, Bend it like Beckham, Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander, and Lagaan etc. We had appreciated those movies, but Chakde India is a movie, reflecting a distinct voice of sports. All the other movies had all the ingredients for making a perfect bake, alas, this movie lack the other resources just focusing on defamed coached Kabir Khan and his retinue.

    After branded as a traitor by the denizens of his nation, he retreats from public life. It took seven years to return from his self-imposed exile, to regain his lost glory. He takes the reins as a Coach of Indian Women Hockey team, a tough mantle with a flock of 16 individualistic girls who are more proud to represent their respective states rather the nation. This benevolent dictator mentors, coaches, guides them into an amalgamated unit, and reaches his unaccomplished mission with the help of the girls. This is Chakde India for you.

    So, what is unique in this film, the protagonist or the girls, or the technical unit? Once in a blue moon, each department of the field has done praise worthy job. Chakde India stands aloft. To start with, the histrionics of Shah Rukh Khan, blue-eyed boy whose arena was confined to the picture perfect Swiss Alps or the Mustard fields of the rich Punjab, sings to the tunes of his leading lady. As he sang and the whole nation sang with him, people loved him, hated him but they never were able to ignore him. He remained a star, but was he an actor, was the question raised by our critics. To silence them he came up with a brilliant performance in Swades, as Mohan Bhargav, the NRI who returns to the lands forgoing the green pastures across the Atlantic.

    In CDI, once you set your eyes on him, you fail to look around. The multi-facet and multi-dimensional character of Kabir khan, portrayed with immense faith, integrity, loyalty and travail. No where did you realise that you are viewing Shah Rukh Khan, you get yourselves immersed into the inhibitions, tribulations, adversities and strength of Kabir Khan. He has taken a road less traveled to reach all the way from a star to actor.

    Now coming into the lovely girls who hail from different states and distinct backgrounds of India, with ease, blends with the composition. They create their harmony with the seven notes and make us dumbfound that many hardly faced a camera prior in their lives or the hockey sticks. Coming to the unsung heroes, the technical team, they had given their heart and soul to produce a masterpiece.

    On a nutshell, the film had focused on our national sport Hockey that been eclipsed from the lime light for years. In a pluralistic society like India, where a member of the minority religion stands in both his glory and failures and finally, speaking about women empowerment. Therefore three cheers for Chak De India.

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