Anything new in Chakde India? Nothing.
Would I still recommend watching it. Yes.
The movie starts with the customary disclaimer that it is a work of fiction and any resemblance to real people or events is purely co-incidental.
Now, if you consider the following as facts…
- People who run sports bodies in India are boring sarkari-types.
- Zafar Iqbal was the captain of the Indian hockey team that lost 1-7 to Pakistan in the finals of the 1982 Asian Games in New Delhi.
- Yuvraj Singh was dating Kim Sharma and was the vice-captain of the Indian cricket team.
- The walls of Mohammed Kaif’s house were blackened with graffiti by vandals after India lost a cricket match.
- Women married into many middle-class families are expected to be nothing beyond good housewives.
- Many people from North-East of India do not associate themselves with India.
- Women from the North-East are subject to lewd remarks in many places in India.
- Rustic Haryanvi lines in Hindi films (remember the wrestler-goon in Khosla Ka Ghosla) and television (remember Udham Singh on Channel [V] ) are funny.
- A regular Indian team is composed of players chosen from different states.
… then Shimit Amin (Ab Tak 56) does craft a whole movie out of co-incidences alone!
The fundamental premise here, like in all sports-based films, is that audience sympathy is always with the underdogs and therefore the protagonists have to be the underdogs. Remember Lagaan, Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar, Iqbal and recently, Ta Ra Rum Pum? (I won’t ask you, but if you also remember Awwal Number, All-rounder, Kabhi Ajnabi Thhey, you rock!) And if the underdogs happen to be women with their own respective odds, then you have a completely-on-the-side-of-political-correctness double-whammy lined up! Now top that up with Shah Rukh Khan being their mentor — and you have a triple-treat-sundae ready!
Shah Rukh as a mentor of people is a film-genre in its own right. Whether it was mentoring a gurukul of plastic love-birds in Mohabbatein, or mentoring villagers wanting their own electric turbine in Swades, or as Major Ram studying alongside students who called him uncle in Main Hoon Naa, and of course my favourite SRK-as-mentor scene from DDLJ (which I mentioned here). (Please note: any assumptions about SRK’s acting abilities are your own!)
I deliberately won’t venture into how all and what all does Chakde India not deliver. Because in our land of abundant contradictions I still believe if something can make a small difference, it is a movie dripping with clichés and stereotypes!
If people believe that a Veer Zaara can contribute more to building relations between Indo-Pak aam janta than official actions — then I won’t play party-pooper to the hope that after Chakde India the integrity of the ordinary Indian Muslim won’t be ever questioned again; that people of North-East India would start seeing themselves as citizens of India; that the girl-child in Haryana (which has one of the lowest female:male ratios in India) gets her due; that middle-class families start giving their daughters-in-law some space to fulfill their aspirations; that people from Jharkhand are no longer seen as backward tribals but recognized for what they can contribute to the country; that boy-friends become less patronizing towards their girls; that we rise above our regional-linguistic chauvinism and start thinking of ourselves as Indians first!
Go watch it.
On the other hand, the official Yashraj Films.com website (click here at your own peril) is perhaps the epitome of traumatic navigation websites. Every module, every link you click takes 10 times longer to load (with a Flash pre-loader) than the amount of time you finally end up spending on the resultant page! Have you ever been exasperated using phone IVR call-in menus — press 1 for Hindi and press 2 for English. Now press 1 for blah and 2 for blah-blah and 3 for blah-blah-blah. Now press 1 for dang, 2 for dangg, and 3 for danggg? Grrrr. That was child’s play! On this official website I was actually scared of clicking on any link — afraid of the next loading-section countdown screen that would be unleashed on me!