Chak De India – movie review

“Tamil aur Telugu mein kitna fark hai!” the cook (played by Javed Khan) tells an Andhra girl (hockey player) when she shrugs for being referred as Tamil. And she aptly replies Utna hi, jitna ek Punjabi aur Bihari mein and simply walks away without showing any anger or dislike.

Another girl from Manipur says she can’t be happy for being treated like a guest in a country that is her own.

These and many more little things in this movie just blew me away. Never before in a Bollywood movie I have seen well portrayed characters from so many (so called) “remote parts” of India.

It’s a really great achievement for the director Shimit Amin (who directed Ab Tak Chhappan for Ram Gopal Varma before) who had an ordinary, clichéd script on his hands but never in the movie you’ll get a how-many-times-have-we-seen-this-before feeling (well, okay – except for few scenes.).

Once again, after Swades, Shahrukh Khan gives us a memorable performance. Unlike in most of his other movies, you see the “actor” Shahrukh Khan, not the “star” Shahrukh Khan. There were moments in the movie, when I was afraid that he was about to unleash his histrionics upon us – (Sattar minutes, for instance) but I am glad that he didn’t, and his acting was convincing and well constrained throughout the movie. All girls acted very well too – they undertook three months of intensive hockey training and physiotherapy for this movie! Every player was characterized so well that feel a connection with them, you laugh with them, chuckle at their mischief and feel sad when they cry.

Background music by Salim-Suleiman was very appropriate and appealing (“Bad Bad Girls” rocked! Maula Mere Le Le Meri Jaan was touching). The songs are not “sung” or performed in the movie, you just hear them in the background – this is a welcoming change in Bollywood movies lately (Was Rang De Basanti a trend-setter here?).

I really liked Jaidip Sahni’s dialogues and lyrics. In “Bad Bad Girls” – a line goes like this “Na Chhat pe bulayegi, na nange pair aayegi…” which reminds us of an antra from the classic song Chupke chupke raat din” by Ghulam Ali — Dopahar ki dhoop mein, mere bulaane ke liye, wo tera kothe pe, nenge paon aana yaad hai! This is another phenomenon I have noticed in some Bollywood movies lately – pop-culture references (like, Ek Chalis Ki Last Local had many of ’em).

Comparisons with other movies – especially Lagaan – are obvious. When Shahrukh Khan throws a challenge to the committee member and asks for a match between his team and men’s team — you can’t deny the similarity with Lagaan (where Amir throws similar challenge to angrez). I can be wrong – but I don’t think that even Shimit Amin and Jaideep Sahni (writer) are shy about their inspirations from Lagaan – one hint is that he used a same stereotypical character from Lagaan (Javed Khan) and another one is a common dialogue in both movies that refers to Itihaas ke panne.

But who cares? I liked this movie as much as I liked Lagaan, if not more!


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