It certainly has not been Yash Raj Films ruling the cinemas in 2007. Unlike the last few years, the production house churned out very mediocre films this year. Can the power of Shah Rukh Khan bring success to Chak De India? The answer is yes and no, because the topic of this movie may not be as popular as him.
The movie is about getting back passion for a particular game and winning for your country; itís about believing in yourselves when others give up. Of course, there could be comparisons to sports-oriented films such as Lagaan, Iqbal, or even Bend It Like Beckham, however, itís wrong to do so because by the end of the movie, you see itís original in its own way.
Chak De India revolves around an ex-Indian Hockey Captain, named Kabir Khan (Shah Rukh Khan), who mentors a field hockey team of young and feisty girls who lack team spirit. Their determination, ambition and skills are put to test in an ultimate contest with the world's top teams. For the girls, it is a chance to make their nation proud. For their coach, it is a chance to reclaim his lost honor after being deemed a traitor seven years ago.
The movie has the right intentions from the get-go. Kabir Khan is obsessed with getting these arrogant girls to the World Cup and have them understand the importance of not just being women (who are meant to get married to cook and clean) but to have their own identities and stand the same as men, especially in sports. In a nation that is crazy over cricket, the team encounters groups of people who do not believe the importance of their efforts or the game.
Technically, the film is visually captivating, especially the cinematography in Australia. Jaideep Saini has created an interesting story, however his screenplay could have been tighter (especially for the over-the-top reasoning of Kabir being a traitor). To his credit, he wrote many interesting sequences such as the introduction of all the girls, the McDonaldís scene, and the Men vs. Womenís game. Salim-Sulaimanís music is adequate as a backdrop for the film but nothing to write home about. The editing is not up to par to other Yash Raj Films, especially during the sports action scenes.
Something to consider is that Shimit Amin has chosen a subject that might not appeal to many movie-goers, however, he has the right intentions and has a good vision. As a director, he extracts the right emotions from all key characters.
Itís difficult to think of anyone else who couldíve played Kabir other than King Khan. In a film with no big stars, he doesnít overdo his role and shows the right amount of stubborness, pride, and heart in the role of a hockey coach. In the first half, some of the girls seemed wooden, however I took back these words when the real drama unfolded in the second half and the characters get down to business.
Overall, this is a well-made film that deserves a chance to succeed. Never judge a book by its cover, you might just very well be surprised by Chak De India.