Can I catch hold of the first person who said that CHAK DE INDIA is an experimental film? Or it is not the kind that entertains? Or worse, it is 'just' a sports/issue based film laced with patriotism? And by the way, 'just' is the key word here! Because the fact is that it is much bigger and much better than all that is being said about the film, more within the industry than outside.
CHAK DE INDIA has a fairly simple plot about a beleaguered hockey captain trying to redeem himself and regain his pride by ensuring that as a coach he gets the World Cup for the women's hockey team. So far so good and fine intentions. But how will he make this possible? This is what takes a viewer through a journey which is thrilling, thought provoking and above all entertaining.
Shimit and writer Jaideep Sahni doesn't beat around the topic of patriotism much. Neither do they get into 'bharat-mata-ki jai' mode every now and then. Heck, they don't even harp on the 'united-we-stand' theory much. What they do is to get the two facts very right - 'Being adaptive to change' and 'Playing one's best game'. This is what they consider as the two pillars for success which would take this highly demoralized, un-sponsored, de-motivated, ill-focused and divided team through the Finals!
And don't they do an amazing job in doing so?
When I attribute this win as that of Shimit and Jaideep, it doesn't mean any discredit to Shahrukh Khan. It's in fact a big one for him because after SWADES, it could just be the second instance in his ultra-successful career that audience would go back talking about Kabir more than the King himself. Now that's what you call a win!
There has been much talk about Shahrukh Khan shedding his Rahul/Raj image for CHAK DE. Yes, he does that. And does that right. Still that doesn't take away from the fact that Khan is at his characteristic best. He gets the right expressions for a guy who is playing a man with his bunch of 16 girls around. He loves them, ridicules them, threatens them, hurts them, motivates them, inspires them and plays with their psychology. And when the woman amongst the girls makes an advance towards him, he knows how to keep temptation at bay!
Each of the girls in the crowd have their own background. No, they don't eat away screen space by being episodic in nature and it is to the credit of Jaideep and Shimit that all of it sounds justified and well concluded. The girl who towers above everyone else is the petite Haryana player whose lingo, dialogue delivery and body language gets the theater into ruptures every time she appears on screen. Closely follows the jumbo from Punjab who eventually learns that keeping a cool head wins games.
The Chandigarh girl brings on the X factor while the North East duo look cute and confident. Vidya Malvade as the captain of the team is fair. One would have expected a captain to be more in synch with the decision making while deciding upon game plan and strategy but that doesn't quite come across at all.
As a narrator, Shimit Amin strikes an excellent balance while interspersing his AB TAK CHAPPAN shot-taking in a Yash Raj Films setup. What could well have been a humongous task comes across quite convincingly as the coming together of entertainment with a good dose of real emotions strikes a goal. No pun intended.
Throughout this 2 hour 30 minutes film, you keep glued to the proceedings with not a single minute making you feel disinterested. In fact the parts before and after the interval have their own tales to tell. The first half is absolutely breezy while stuffed with light hearted/truly hilarious moments. The introduction of team members, their first meeting with the coach followed by the training sessions and solution to all the misunderstandings (well almost) are