Movie Review: Chak de! India

Title: Chak de India (means Go India!)
Starring: Shahrukh Khan and a bunch of new comers
Director: Shimit Amin

This is a film that is very different from conventional Bollywood productions. Besides, for a change, Shahrukh Khan is not playing a romantic hero!

The film revolves around how a former Indian hockey captain takes on the role of coach for the Indian Women’s hockey team and transforms the team into a World Cup winning unit! The movie seems to have been inspired by the constant media coverage of Greg Chappell and Team India for a good two-year period. The move makers chose hockey and a women’s team instead. A clever twist that helped highlight a number of issues: women’s empowerment, neglect of hockey, cricket’s overwhelming dominance, the role of a sports coach, team work, unity, the constant pressure on Muslims who represent India.

Shahrukh Khan plays the lead as Kabir Khan. The new comers together make up the Hockey team. The Director deserves credit for remaining focused on the main story throughout with no distractions like song and dance, romance etc. Even the comedy parts were nicely blended into the story line. The cricketer character in the film and the scenes involving him are very well handled. However, the script/direction is not without holes. Kabir Khan disappears for 7 years and there is no mention of what he was up to during those years. When he re-appeared as coach, the media surprisingly didn’t care to talk about it either despite he having taken on the job of coach of the women’s national team. He transforms the team in 3 months! There was very little use of technology in the coaching process either. Kabir Khan’s dressing at the games appeared out of place. Shorts or track bottoms would have made more sense. Instead he was looked like a guy dressed to go to work in an office!

For once, Yash Chopra and crew reached out for characters beyond Punjab and Bombay to other parts of India. Heading south was seemingly painful –the selectors refer to a player from Tamil Nadu, but it later turns out to be a player from Andhra Pradesh, who eventually had little to do in the movie but make up the numbers.

Shahrukh and the rest of the cast put in a fine job. He deserves special credit for experimenting with an off-beat theme like this one instead of sticking to formula. The movie is well made and definitely worth watching. Even if you have a dislike for Shahrukh Khan (for some reason!), this is one of his special films. This is a movie you can easily watch with the kids.

Author: Pran Kurup

Pran Kurup is founder and CEO of Vitalect, Inc.

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