When I started this blog, I decided that my policy would be to write only about films that nobody else has really written about, because many Hindi movies already have great write-ups elsewhere and I’ve really got nothing inspirational to add.
My USP is that I watch a LOT of movies. Movies that most people will probably never see (many with good reason). But I seldom see a film when it’s newly released. I wait for the DVD because I hate going to movie theaters and having to deal with all those other people (I’m grouchy in addition to under-employed). Also theaters showing Hindi films are few and far between in my area. I am also naturally disposed to dislike things that everyone else universally raves about (the grouch factor again). Like Chak De! India. But this movie thoroughly deserves all the acclaim it’s gotten and I want to write about it, and hey! it’s my blog.
Chak De is going directly to my list of Hindi Starter Movies—it is a quality effort in every way. The story, the performances, everything is up to the highest standard I’ve ever seen for the “sports movie” genre anywhere. It is easily on par with the best Hollywood sports-oriented films like Hoosiers. Like all good sports films, it’s not just about sports either. SRK said in an interview that I read that Chak De is not about hockey, but about empowering women—which it is, obviously.
It’s also about redemption and forgiveness and empathy. Especially, I think, empathy—an ability to see the other side, which is something this world sorely needs right now. A rag-tag team of girls, from all corners of India, learn to get along and to work together for a common goal. It doesn’t happen overnight, there are lots of bumps along the way, and for a few it doesn’t happen until it’s almost too late. Just like life! By the time each girl’s journey—and Kabir’s too—reaches its culmination in the World Cup tournament, you are on the edge of your seat rooting for them.
And it doesn’t disappoint. The tension, the pacing, everything is pitch-perfect. Shah Rukh continues to not over-act, and the hockey seems (at least to this benchwarmer type) very realistic. I felt exactly—exactly—as I felt in 2004 when the Sox won the AL pennant against all odds (coming back from a three game deficit in a best-of-seven series). It’s a visceral, euphoric feeling and it isn’t easily duplicated.
Chak De delivers.