Shahrukh Khan has enjoyed unparalleled success in Romance, an area where the 47-year old actor could even today give the younger crop of heroes a run for their money. There are also few heroes who could play negative characters such splendidly like Shahrukh. The actor hasn’t usually found much success whenever he has come out of these two comfort zones. But in 2007’s Chak De India, when Shahrukh Khan decided to keep his romantic image and trademark wicked smile aside ,not to have any heroines or duet songs and just be the coach of the national hockey team from the start to end, the results were in epic proportions.
Chak De India not only went on to be a huge blockbuster , but also produced a career best performance that ranks closely to DDLJ and Swades .It is today regarded as one of the best sports based movies ever released in India and also produced a title song that became the new sports anthem of the nation.
Chak De India told the story of Kabir Khan, the former Indian hockey team captain who was banned from the sport after a disastrous loss to Pakistan team and who returned after seven years to become the coach of the Indian women’s hockey team to lead them to gold in the world cup finally restoring his reputation. Kabir Khan’s character was loosely inspired from Mir Ranjan Negi , the Indian hockey goalkeeper who went to the hiding after being accused by many for conceding the goals in 1-7 loss in 1982’s Asian games final against Pakistan. He later returned as the coach of the Indian women’s hockey team which won the 2002 common wealth games.
Jaideep Sahani followed the classy Khosla ka Ghosla with another terrific job in the script department and deserves a huge credit for turning Chak De India to the classic it is today. His excellent writing is evident at many places some notable ones being the ‘sattar minute’ speech ,the final penalty shootout where Shahrukh Khan signals Vidya to stay still after noticing the body language of the opposite player and the final scene where the small kid strikes off the ‘Gaddar’ written on Shahrukh Khan’s wall. All the new young girls put in energetic performances and the director Shimit Amin did a nice job in tapping the best out of the raw talent.
Shahrukh Khan was the life and soul of Chak De India. In a movie which didn’t feature any other big names, Shahrukh Khan carried the entire movie on his shoulders. Whether its the initial scene where he meets the hockey association expressing his desire to coach the Indian women hockey team or towards the interval where he declares to the girls that he retires as the coach or the scene where he forces the association to agree to a challenge match with the men’s team to allow the women’s team to fly to Australia for the world cup or his interactions with the senior-most girl who is unwilling to play along with the team or his final famous ‘sattar minute’ speech , Shahrukh Khan displayed a never before seen intensity and he was simply brilliant throughout.
Well if there are people who think Shahrukh Khan overacts during emotional scenes, they should watch him at the end of Chak De India when he finally sits down breathing a heavy sigh of relief after his team won the penalty shootout and had won the world cup. The entire last sequence is enjoyable any time you watch it because of the actor’s powerful acting standing on the sidelines showing his tension at every point each team wins.
Chak De India’s influence on Indian sports was enormous. The sales of hockey equipment saw a tremendous increase across the country after the movie’s release. The suspension of the Indian Hockey Federation in April 2008 also emphasized the film’s influence. After a new hockey council was formed, former hockey player, Aslam Sher Khan, told in an interview that they need to make a Team India like in Chak De India uniting players from different parts of the country.
The song ‘Chak De India’ became the nation’s new sport anthem and its use was much more wider in another sport ,Cricket when India won its first world cup in September 2007 ,one month after Chak De India’s release. For a number of months , whenever a six or a four was hit by the Indian team, the Chak De song came out blaring through the public announcement system. The title track also accompanied every other celebrations in India even outside the sports for several months.
Chak De India was one of the movies where I went in the first day with least expectations but came out extremely satisfied. It does not matter that the story of how an underdog team wins over the mighty oppositions is always predictable . If you have an engaging and exciting script like Chak De India’s and powerful performances like Shahrukh Khan’s , it will always give you chills and goosebumps . It will always continue to be a source of huge inspiration and motivation. Chak De India definitely has an important place in Indian Cinema history amongst the best sports based movies ever made along with the likes of Lagaan.