Chak De! India and the art of making a good sports drama
Starting right from the category of sports chosen, Chak De! India stands out from the hundreds of movies that desperately struggle to capitalize on our sentiments for sports. While most of sports dramas stuck to mainstream sports events like cricket, football, and badminton, Chak De! India opted for hockey, a game that was slowly losing its popularity. The film reminded us that hockey still is and will always be our national sport. Chak De! India also uses the opportunity to uphold the lost glory of the sport.
Produced by YRF, Chak De! India tells the story of how 16 young women bring home the world cup under the guidance of their coach Kabir Khan. Every sports drama thrives on the template of “underdog making it big”. But Chak De! India does not depend on this format alone. The film is not just about India winning the game, but how it wins the game. Chak De! India has so many layers to its story that makes it so engaging and relevant. Here is a detailed look at those layers:
Chak De! India is feminist in the true sense
The film brings our attention to the discrimination and underrepresentation of female players in the sports industry. For the authorities, sending a women’s team to the world cup is just an obligation to check the box for female representation. They show no trust or hope in the women’s team and bestow the men’s team with more facilities and training. This is nothing but a reflection of the true scenario that exists for female sportspersons in our country.
Coach Kabir Khan is not the messiah and nor are those 16 girls damsels in distress. They are players with huge potential who have lost their direction and forgotten to trust their own abilities because no one else does. Coach Kabir Khan was the mentor they needed who would help them explore their best potential.
Picturizing ethnical discriminations
The film starts off with Kabir Khan’s backstory, where he was ostracized by the media after India loses the match to Pakistan. He becomes a target for this allegation primarily due to his religion and his ethnical background. Being a Muslim, it was easy to tag him as a terrorist and be accused of having fixed the match with Pakistan.
The segment involving female players from North East makes a statement that is loud and clear. It is something that no Hindi movie attempted to address or explore at that time.
Importance of teamwork in sports
The majority of Kabir Khan’s duty was to get the girls to put aside their complexes and work together as a team. In the introduction scene where Kabir Khan meets the girls, he reminds them that they are playing for India and not their respective states. He throws out Preeti Sabarwal (Sagarika Ghatge) from the practice session for coming late. He also keeps the senior player Bindiya Naik (Shilpa Shukla) at bay to deal with her arrogance. After a lot of hard work, Kabir finally succeeds in building a team that values and respects each other. It is this teamwork that helps the girls win the world cup.
There is no villain in Chak De! India
Most Indian sports dramas resort to picturizing the opposite “gora” team as villains who want to rip off the Indian team. But in Chak De! India, the opposite teams are just teams who know their game well and are confident about their strategies and plans. The real villain in the movie is the inner demons that hold back the girls from giving their best shot.
The game-changing climax of Chak De! India
India will win; that is for sure. But how? Instead of sticking to a patriotism-inducing background score, the film uses some very exciting story elements in the climax that leaves us surprised and swells our heart with pride.
One of the biggest stars in the country, Shahrukh Khan takes it on his shoulder to play Kabir Khan, a character that veers away from his usual style. In spite of having such a big star, the film makes sure that his starry aura doesn’t hog all the limelight. Each and every character in Chak De! India gets their fair share of story and screen space. From an industry that mainly sells on the actors’ market value, such a balance is very rare to witness.
Chak De! India is a movie that stays realistic till the end. The impact that the film created in several spaces is immeasurable. If this is not the best way to make a sports drama, then I don’t know what is.
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