It has been ten years since this cult classic hit the silver screen and patriotic spirits of Indian mass.
It became an instant sensation due to the national integrity, teamwork, and feminist narrative within the film. Shah Rukh Khan poured his heart out as the coach of Indian women’s hockey team who is trying to build a powerful team for the sake of putting women on Indian sports history map while trying to repair his damaged reputation. The film also featured 11 fascinating female characters, some of whom you could relate yourself with if you are a rebellious woman in an Orthodox household. 😛 Afterall, with declining balance in binary gender ratio, women actually have to prove their worthiness. Chak de! India is the wish fulfillment of feminists dreams as well as for those women who aspire to achieve greatness in sports.
Ten years laters, when we look back, Chak De India’s success meant a lot for the Indian sportsmen and women. After this film’s release, Indian won T20 world cup, world cup and champions trophy in cricket, along with major achievements in the field of hockey, tennis, badminton, etc. Every time an Indian made an achievement, this song is played to boost the players.
The feminist narrative in the film brought attention to the role of women in the society and the bias women faces in the field of sports. The film itself has women facing setbacks. The sponsors refusing to send women to world cup as they wanted to use the money to fund men’s team, believing that it is the men who might bring back at least a bronze medal. The association head kept on labeling women as “Bharatiya naaris” who shouldn’t be ‘roaming around in skirts’. Kabir sarcastically smiles at a female representative in the association who simply laughed along with her male counterparts who continuously made sexist comments. It is a challenge he is willing to undertake.
Vidya Sharma (Vidya Malvade) faces setbacks in her marital house due to her husband’s lack of support over something she wanted all her life. Her father-in-law prioritizes a relative’s wedding over her career. Komal’s fight against her parents who keeps asking “who will marry you?” and “how will cook for your husband?”. Preeti Sabarwal’s fiancé, a national cricket player, who thinks that hockey is just another game with sticks and that she has no career in it. To him, cricket is a “big” thing. Preeti Sabarwal is shown as the most determined and highly ambitious player.
And we will love her for it, generally, in Indian society, ambitious women are often vilified. Above all, we get to see girls facing eve-teasing and taunting as a result of their status as Dalits and Northeast Indians. Seniors poking fun at their counterparts. Despite all these, girls with the training and motivation from Khan comes up and gives a fight in the world cup.
The film begins with a tagline “sometimes winning is everything”. The film shows Kabir Khan trying to mend his reputation as a ‘Muslim who supported Pakistan’ because a journalist took pictures of him shaking hands with Pakistan national players during men’s hockey final. Each of the girls has to win in their own accords to have better status back at home, whether it is before their parents, boyfriend/husband, and the nation which is in inertia state in terms of praising women in sports. The association head admits to having women’s hockey for the sake of formality. Kabir and the team know that winning the world cup means earning the respect they deserve. In a patriarchal society, this is what women have to do as opposed to facing the sexist taunts. Plus we see the girls changing as personalities and becoming grounded. Bindiya as a reformed villain, Gunjan’s team spirit, Preeti & Komal letting go of their egos, Balbir playing the role of the badass girl giving way to her fellow players, Soimoi’s defending & snatching skills and the final penalty sequence.
Shimit Amin and team has researched well and executed the film’s action scenes with perfection. The editing and cinematography worked so well that you could watch the film just to see the hockey scenes. Hockey itself is an artistic game. A feminine touch along with the girl’s determination gave the thrills that lure the audience in. The cinematographer deserves all the accolades for the perfect capture of action. However, the sound recording went topsy-turvy at times while look for the same kind of perfection. In the world cup match with Australia, Bindiya says “Apni Captain se pooch”. Her dialogue clear and steady for someone who has been playing hockey continuously. Similarly during the final match where Komal screams “Preeti, dikhao uss..” she says that while passing the ball and jumping. When we hear it, the fact that she recorded the dialogue in the studio is understood.
You might not like the film at first glance due to predictability and exaggeration but it is the classic example of a film that gets better with each viewing. The pleasant feel at the end, patriotic spirit instilled, message related to teamwork and feminism makes Chak de India a rock solid film.
Watching Chak de India along with the catalog of those movies in SRK’s filmography with a difference in flavor giving scope to great performance, makes my heart ache. SRK’s choice of film in recent times cannot live up to his talents and caliber. I just hope he comes back with better choices.
Featured image : hdwallapapers