Chak De! India (2007)


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.

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13 Comments to “Chak De! India (2007)”

  1. Nice review!

    Have loved reading your blog posts for precisely the content you put in it: you write about movies few have seen and (often) fewer still have liked. I go to a movie theatre more often than you do, but a good number of the movies I go to don’t have much of an audience either. Watching a movie in a large auditorium with less than 10 people has its charms, I tell you.

    Anyway, just wanted to say: keep ’em coming!

  2. Hey, with encouragement like yours I will! Thanks :-)

  3. Ramsu is right on! Another lovely piece as usual. My own grouchiness lately is focused on how few good roles there are for women in Hindi films, and Chak De was such a bright spot – for that and so many other reasons.

  4. I don’t think the lack of good roles for women is unique to the Hindi film industry :-) I hear a lot of griping about the same thing from Hollywood actresses…

    so yes, Chak De was a really bright spot!

  5. Oh, I agree. I just don’t pay as much attention to Hollywood anymore :)

  6. I saw this movie on DVD my recent visit to India – a very good movie indeed.

    We were all rooted to the spot watching the movie.

    For me personally it was a satisfying moment since i organised a “Matinee Show” at home for keeping the kids in the family entertained with their ages ranging from 19 to 5 !

    All of us enjoyed the movie and it was one of the bright spots of my holiday in India!

    Good review

  7. I gave the DVD to my teenaged niece who plays field hockey (I am trying to convert all my family members into Hindi film fans, with varying degrees of success ;-)…she is going to invite her whole team over to watch it.

    It will be interesting to get their reviews!

  8. So, memsaab, what did your niece and her team think of the film? I admit I haven’t seen it yet (am couch potato and hate sports, but lurve SRK so will probably work my way around to it eventually).

  9. The sports part of it isn’t the focus. It’s the building the team more than action on the field. It really is a good movie, and SRK is wonderful in it.

    I don’t think my niece has watched it yet. She’s been v.v. busy with school and…hockey! and softball! and socializing :-)

  10. I watch memsaab story for its crystal clear stills. I enjoy your films which
    has maximum stills. Chak de India disappointed me in this respect.

  11. Since you are so into watching bollywood movies, allow me to recommend a few movies. I am quite a movie buff myself and am heavily into bollywood, hollywood and other language movies. But the ones i am listing below are definitely my favourite hindi movies (with great story, superlative acting and amazing editing) :

    1) Swadesh (an SRK starrer, this is a deeply touching, heart-warming movie about an NRI who discovers what he is missing. SRK’s career-best performance, according to me)
    2) Black Friday (Maverick film-maker Anurag Kashyap’s brilliant movie about the 1993 terrorist bomb blasts in Mumbai. This is a true story)
    3) Company (Ram Gopal Verma’s movie about Mumbai’s underworld – best gangster movie I have seen, better than even Godfather and heavily inspired by the story of real-life underworld kingpin Dawood Ibrahim)
    4) Ab Tak Chappan (Another gripping film by RGV about a not-so-honest cop, cop-gangster nexus, inner workings of the Mumbai crime branch)
    5) Bawarchi (A sweet, old timey Rajesh Khanna starrer)
    6) Khosla ka Ghosla (Rib-tickling comedy about how a middle-class family turns the tables on a corrupt builder who robs them off their property)
    7) Raat (A truly spooky horror movie by RGV)

    Definitely watch these movies when you get a chance and tell us how you liked them.

  12. I saw this movie in the theaters with my colleagues and remember a couple of instances – the ‘team’ fighting with the ‘goons’ and everyone in the hall clapping and cheering for them, srk helping out one of the players near the end in wearing a sock and in the silence of the theater echoed the voice of a girl who shouted ‘so lucky’ hahaha

    I love this movie so much, remains one of my fav movies. we actually clapped when at the end Priti refuses the cricketer, well Vivan is cute though ;)

  13. It was definitely one of the best given by SRK till date or we can say this the last best given by him.

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