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How Chak De stands out of the crowd!
By Behindwoods News Bureau.
August 20, 2007
Chak De India is reported to be doing great business in the multiplexes and big cities and a little bit on the dull side in the smaller centers. But what one can say with confidence is that it is one of the best-made movies (at least one of the best-made sports movies) of recent times. It is a regular sports movie but in more ways than one it is very different from all the sports movies that have been made in India or maybe all over the world.
Chak De India

First thing to notice is that the movie is based on a sport that has a following which is nothing to be proud of. In fact, hockey is a sport which in spite of being India’s national game is struggling to stay afloat due to lack of support, sponsors and a variety of other factors. Well, this is not an obituary to Indian hockey. In fact Indian hockey has a lot of life left in it or at least you will believe so after you see Chak De India. As we had reported earlier some former hockey players of India have expressed hope that the arrival of such a movie might help improve the popularity of the sport. Their hope, it seems was not completely misplaced. This movie might do something, however small for hockey in India. There might be the odd kid who would want to pick up a hockey stick after watching the movie.

Now let’s get down to why Chak De India stands out from the rest of the crowd. As mentioned above, Chak De about hockey, officially the first movie to be made based on hockey. Then, one can’t remember any movie that was made on a larger stage. What this means is that there hasn’t been a sports movie that has moved through an event as big as the world cup. All the movies that we know (Lagaan, Chennai 28, Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander) have been based on local rivalries, tournaments, matches etc…. They have never been about a national team and a global event.

This difference is a bit subtler. All sports movies of our times have been based on rivalries, between two teams (whatever be the reason) and the tooth and nail fight by the protagonist team to avenge their earlier defeat or something similar to that. But Chak De has no rivalries. The team is not thinking day and night about how to get the better of a particular team. Chak De India revolves around a team’s evolution, the struggle to defeat their greatest rival – their ego, the struggle before the moment where they begin to believe in themselves, to believe that they belong to the world stage. The transformation from being a group of 16 players to being a team, where each one sticks together have all been shown beautifully. Then there are the petty rivalries that are present in any team, the ones that threaten to be the team’s downfall, all shown without going overboard or getting clichéd.

Then there is the single most distinguishing factor. The main protagonist of the team does not play the game, he coaches. Try as hard as we may, we might not be able to remember a movie where the hero (and such a big star) has been relegated to the sidelines. Shah Rukh Khan gets all the spotlight that he may want from a movie. The role of a coach in the making of a team and its victory may have never been highlighted in such a manner before. In the movie he is the mentor, the unifier, the tyrant, the ‘gunda’ (as he says in a scene) and the strategist (jut as a coach should be) and all these facets have been shown.

So, if you think that Chak De India is another routine sports movie then think again. Yes, it is the story about an underdog coming from nowhere and winning the coveted the prize, but it has been told in a different way, from a different perspective. That’s why Chak De India stands out from the crowd.

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