I had caught the trailer of ‘Çhak De India’ when I went for Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix. In that one minute piece, the shots of the hockey matches impressed me. Though it was still a Shahrukh movie; I knew I had to catch it before the reviews hit the media.
And I did, being in Dubai gives you that advantage as the movies release here on Thursday , a day before in India!

I did not go with as high expectations as Lagaan & Iqbal. Chak De India might not fit in their league but it’s an out and out sports movie on the lines of the Mighty Ducks series! And yes it also highlights what girls/women in India go through irrespective of the strata of the society they belong to.

Chak De India is a story about a fallen hero, regaining his honour from his countrymen. It is about 16 girls fighting themselves, fighting politics in the game, fighting society, fighting their own demons within. It’s a story about the sports situation in the country where states still rule the nation. It’s a story about how society still deals with women.

Shahrukh excels beyond par. And it means something when it comes from me, who is no Shahrukh fan! And no he is not doing what Aamir did in Lagaan. Chak De & Lagaan can’t be compared simply cause they are two different stories, with complete different backdrops.
Shahrukh is sincere in his portrayal of Kabir Khan, his anguish when the nation scorns him, his willingness to fight the system, his love for the game, his helplessness when he can’t step onto the field to play, his toughness in dealing with the girls, his earnestness in building a winning team and finally his disbelief when he overcomes his demons and wins the battle.

The casting might not be the perfect one for the girls, but the bunch does a good job at the end. Preethi Sabharwal is attractive and confident, Komal is brash and knows she is good, Bindya is arrogant, Aliya Bose is striking, Gunjan is the pacifier, Vidya has enough to deal with her personal problems yet is the most focussed of the lot, Balbir Kaur is what our women teams need, atleast one of her kind. The rest have little dialogues but impress in their little parts.

How they struggle to come together as one team, setting aside their personal glories. They are all haunted by their own demons like jealousy, ego, pride, fear, lack of self-belief, anger, dissent, indiscipline, and most of all minimal support from people they love. Vidya from a normal middle-class family is pressurised to quit and come attend the family wedding, while Preethi from the upper class family, engaged to a high-profile cricketer gets her own dose of male ego from him. The Hockey association is as usual less supportive of them anyways.
They fight and they overcome it all, thanks to their coach Kabir.

On the technical front, I loved the second half, the World Cup tournament is shot well. Sure there were still gaps but it’s a fine effort by the director. It’s a good film to follow after his ‘Ab Tak Chappan’. He should also be given some credit for I’m sure most people are now going to take interest in hockey: men’s or women’s. The film will do some good to our neglected national sport! Finally, some kudos to Yash Raj Films as well, after dishing out endless glossy unrealistic movies, here is one film they should be really proud of!

Most might feel it’s not in the league of a Lagaan or Iqbal but it still can get a place behind them in terms of the subject and the execution.

And before I leave, take a bow to Shahrukh Khan! It was nice to see the sincere and natural effort, Shahrukh’s Kabir Khan will be in memory for a long, long time along with Abhimanyu Rai(Fauji), Raj Malhotra(DDLJ) and Mohan Bhargava(Swades). He was and is the soul of this movie and takes it to success boldly on his shoulders!

So go watch it once, it is the kind of stuff dreams are made of!

P.S.: My favourite scene in the film has nothing to do with hockey, it’s the one where the team goes to Mcdonald’s and ends up bashing a gang of eve-teasers wihout any help from a male!! Oh boy I can bet every girl alive will love that scene! Oh ya that’s one scene I would’ve loved to be part of!