Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Redemption of a man's lost dignity - Chak De India

One man, Kabir Khan captains the Indian team and takes it through to the World Cup finals, where they meet long time nemesis Pakistan in finals. He thinks its just a matter of 70 minutes and all there was is to go out there and give his best shot. Little does he know that his pride, dignity are at stake just because of his religion. Hell breaks lose on him not because he misses a penalty stroke in the penultimate moments of the game just like a zillion people before him have, but because he is a Muslim in Indian team and because he happens to have the sporting spirit to congratulate the winning team. Accusations of his being sold out to the country where he belongs to, take an uproar in the media and with the aam junta and he is forced out of the team and his ancestral home with a label as Gaddar (The traitor).

Spending seven years in anonymity Khan returns for a redemption of his lost glory. His aim, to convert the silver medal that he had, to a gold in the world cup.. As he mentions later on to the committee in an intense way, he spends these seven years in preparing for the interview with the Association. The path to the World cup is not easy for the Khan, because of the politics in the Association and more than that, the diversity in the team which has lost the identity of a 'team' by itself. Its the dignity of the person at stake and yes he delivers big time..

Thats the story of Chakk De India in short, but the way it unfolds itself on the celluloid in the direction of Shimmit Amin is excellent. CDI works big time not just because of the powerhouse performances of the cast, but because of the intensity of emotions portrayed during the duration of the movie. A girl is willing to desert her family for the love of her game while another is willing to do 'anything' for the position of the captain. Another girl is out there to teach a lesson to her boy friend according to whom the National game of India is just a stick and ball game. And yet another is out to prove her parents that she can make a mark in the world of Hockey. And above all of them who will do anything to get his dignity restored..

CDI may not reap harvest of profits for the Yash Raj films but it will surely stand out as one of the best attempts by the production house ever. Though I personally dislike Sharukh Khan for his over the top performance I cannot help but appreciate his performance in the movie. He is restrained, a wide gamut of emotions overflowing in him during the movie, from a coach who pits his girls against the men's hockey team for a chance to go to the World cup to the person who inspires the same team against the six times champion Aussies with a powerhouse speech. Seventy minutes is all you have in your life that could make a big difference in your lives, he tells the players, and you could easily associate that to yourself in all the crucial moments in life. For example, 3 hours is all you have in IIT JEE to enter the premier institutes of India or to spend the next four years in colleges which do not justify their existence as the Engineering colleges of India.

The girls perform equally well, Bindia as the senior player who has a wonderful game, but would refuse to play as the coach says just because she is a senior player in the team and wants the things her way. Watch out for her intense portrayal when she offers herself to Khan for the captaincy of the team. Though Vidya as the captain doesnt have great scenes in the movie, she does leave her impact when you leave the theater. Balbir, who transforms from a person who doesn't have a restraint on her anger to the person who uses it properly against the Argentinians in the Quarters. Komal, the bubbly young girl who wants to teach the Memsahib Prreti a lesson by making the maximum number of goals but passes the ball to her at the last moments of the finals for the sake of the nation. And above all my favorite among the lot, Preeti Sabarwal who almost loses her breath for a place in the team and is out to prove her boy friend Abhimanyu Singh that she has a career of her own as an independent woman and doesn't heed to the whims of the star cricketer. She is my favorite among the lot not because she is a gora memsahib as mentioned by Komal, but because of the enigmatic look that she carries with herself throughout the film. A look that portrays dis interest in the pettiness of Komal, a look that shows her determination for proving her might to her boy friend, a look of respect for the coach while at the same time disliking his ways, a look that leaves you haunting even after the movie is over as to what was really going on in her head while enacting the role and what emotion she was actually trying to emote more than others..

CDI might not fit in the regular Bollywood dance and routine but it is definitely worth a watch. I am sure the film would bring the same kind of inspiration about hockey as was brought by Rang De Basanthi in the youth about the country as a whole, but guess what, just as days pass by, CDI will not be able to retain the inspiration just like RDB couldn't. I still remember seeing a lot of Yahoo groups formed by youth of India who got inspired by RDB, but that was all it could go to, before it became just any other thing. Sure, CDI will generate excitement about our national game Hockey, and might retain it for a year or two, but in the wave of cricket that sweeps the nation by its feet, the national game will keep trying hard to justify its identity in the nation, until the Association and the government decide to do something to retain the lost glory...

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