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Chak De! India

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Chak De! India
Theatrical release poster depicts coach Kabir Khan, looking over the Indian Women's National Field Hockey Team. Text at the bottom of the poster reveals the title, tagline, production credits and release date.
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Shimit Amin
Rob Miller (sports action director)
Produced by Aditya Chopra
Written by Jaideep Sahni
Screenplay by Jaideep Sahni
Story by Jaideep Sahni
Starring Shah Rukh Khan
Music by Salim-Sulaiman
Cinematography Sudeep Chatterjee
Edited by Amitabh Shukla
Distributed by Yash Raj Films
Release dates
  • 10 August 2007 (2007-08-10)
Running time
153 minutes
Country India
Language Hindi

Chak De! India (English: Go For it! India[1] or Go! India[2]) is a 2007 Hindi-language Indian sports film, directed by Shimit Amin and Rob Miller (sports action),[3][4] produced by Aditya Chopra, music by Salim–Sulaiman, and with a screenplay by Jaideep Sahni. It explores religious bigotry, the legacy of the partition of India, ethnic and regional prejudice, and sexism in contemporary India through a fictional story about the the Indian Women's National Field Hockey team (though inspired by the team's win at the 2002 Commonwealth Games). The film stars Shahrukh Khan as Kabir Khan, the (fictional) former captain of the Indian national field hockey team. After a disastrous loss to the Pakistan men's national field hockey team, Khan is ostracized from the sport and forced (with his mother) from their ancestral home by angry neighbors. Seven years later in an attempt to redeem himself, Khan becomes the coach for the Indian national women's hockey team, with the goal of turning its sixteen contentious players into an award-winning team.

Chak De! India won numerous awards in the "Best Film" category including the National Film Award for Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment. On 30 August 2007, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences requested a copy of the Chak De India script for a place in the Margaret Herrick Library.[5][6]

When the Indian Hockey Federation was suspended in April 2008, former hockey player Aslam Sher Khan, stated that he wanted "to create a 'Chak De' effect" within Indian hockey.[7]


Chak De! India opens in Delhi during the final minutes of a (fictional) Hockey World Cup match between Pakistan and India, with Pakistan leading, 1–0. When the Indian team captain, Kabir Khan (Shah Rukh Khan), is fouled, he elects to take the penalty stroke himself. His strike, however, flies just above the goal and India suffers a crushing defeat. Soon after the match ends, media outlets begin to circulate a photograph of Khan accepting a handshake from the captain of the Pakistan team. This action leads to a nationwide smear campaign which alleged that Khan (who is a Muslim)[8][9] might have "thrown" the game in an act of sympathy towards Pakistan. The religious prejudice exhibited towards Khan by the entire society at large[8][9][10] forces him and his mother (Joyshree Arora) out of their ancestral home and into exile.

Seven years later, Mr. Tripathi (Anjan Srivastav), the head of India's Hockey association, meets with Khan's friend and hockey advocate Uttamaji (Mohit Chauhan), to discuss the Indian women's hockey team. Tripathi argues the team has no future since the only long-term role for women is to "cook and clean." Uttamaji, however, informs him that Kabir Khan (whom no one has seen for seven years) wants to coach the team. Though initially sceptical, Tripathi ultimately agrees to this arrangement.

Shah Rukh Khan (Kabir Khan)
Anaitha Nair (Aliya Bose)
Shilpa Shukla (Bindiya Naik)
Chitrashi Rawat (Komal Chautala)
Sagarika Ghatge (Preeti Sabarwal)
Vidya Malvade (Vidya Sharma)

Khan thus finds himself in charge of a group of 16 young women (each representing a different state), divided both by their own competitive natures as well as their individual regional prejudices. While Komal Chautala (Chitrashi Rawat) (a village girl from Haryana), conflicts with urban Preeti Sabarwal (Sagarika Ghatge) (from Chandigarh), short-tempered Balbir Kaur (Tanya Abrol) from Punjab bullies Rani Dispotta (Seema Azmi) and Soimoi Kerketa (Nisha Nair), both from remote villages in Jharkhand. Mary Ralte (Kimi Laldawla) from Mizoram and Molly Zimik (Masochon "Chon Chon" Zimik) from Manipur (in North-East India) face discrimination and repeated sexual harassment from everyone they meet. The team's captain, Vidya Sharma (Vidya Malvade), is forced to choose between hockey and the wishes of her husband Rakesh's (Nakul Vaid) family, while Preeti's fiancé, Abhimanyu Singh (Vivan Bhatena), the (fictional) vice captain of the India national cricket team, is deeply threatened by her involvement with the team.

Khan realizes that he can only turn the girls into a winning team if he can help them to overcome these differences. Thus during the first few days, he benches a number of players who refuse to conform to his rules, including the most experienced player, Bindia Naik (Shilpa Shukla). In response, Bindia repeatedly attempts to encourage the players to revolt against Khan. She finally succeeds and in anger, Khan resigns. As a sign of good will, however, he invites the staff and team to a going away lunch. During lunch, however, local boys make a pass at Mary. In response, Balbir attacks them, an act which leads to a brawl between the boys and the entire team. Khan, recognizing that this is their first instance of working together as a team, repeatedly prevents the staff from intervening. His only action is to stop a man from striking one of the women with a cricket bat from behind, telling him that there are no cowards in hockey. After the fight, the women (now bonded as a team) beg Khan to remain as their coach.

The newly united team faces new challenges, however. When Mr. Tripathi suddenly decides not to send the women's team to Australia for The World Championship, Khan offers a challenge match against the men’s team. Despite losing this match, they are still sent to Australia due to their superb performance. The World Cup begins with a bad loss to Australia, followed by a series of wins to England, Spain, South Africa, New Zealand, Argentina, and South Korea. They are matched with Australia once again for the final game, beating them, and thus winning The World Cup. After they return to India, their families treat them with greater respect and Khan (with his good name once again restored) returns to his ancestral home with his mother.


Shortly after the film's release, the media began referring to the 16 actresses who portrayed the players as a single unit called the Chak De girls.[11][12] The panel of judges at the Screen Awards also used this term when they awarded the 2008 Screen Award for Best Supporting Actress to the Chak De Girls.[13]


Actor Character portrayed State Position
Shah Rukh Khan Kabir Khan NA Coach of the Indian women's field hockey team
Anaitha Nair Aliya Bose West Bengal Right Out, No. 7[14]
Tanya Abrol Balbir Kaur Punjab Full Back, No. 3[14]
Shilpa Shukla Bindiya Naik Maharashtra Center Half, No. 5[14]
Arya Menon Gul Iqbal Uttar Pradesh Left, No. 10[14]
Shubhi Mehta Gunjan Lakhani Andhra Pradesh Right Half, No. 4[14]
Chitrashi Rawat Komal Chautala Haryana Right In, No. 8[14]
Kimi Laldawla Mary Ralte Mizoram Substitute, No. 15[14]
Masochon Zimik Molly Zimik Manipur Left Half, No. 6[14]
Sandia Furtado Nethra Reddy Andhra Pradesh Left Out, No. 11[14]
Nichola Sequeira Nichola Sequeira[15] Maharashtra[15] Bench/Utility player, No. 12[11]
Sagarika Ghatge Preeti Sabarwal Chandigarh Center Forward, No. 9[14]
Kimberly Miranda Rachna Prasad[15] Bihar[15] Utility player, No. 14[11]
Seema Azmi Rani Dispotta Jharkhand Right Defender, No. 2[14]
Raynia Mascerhanas Raynia Fernandes[15] --- Utility player, No. 16[11]
Nisha Nair Soimoi Kerketa Jharkhand Substitute, No. 17[14]
Vidya Malvade Vidya Sharma Madhya Pradesh Captain and Goalie, No. 18[14]

Additional cast[edit]



A short article about the winning of the Gold by the women's team at the 2002 Commonwealth Games inspired screenwriter Jaideep Sahni to create a film about the Indian Women's Hockey Team.[17] Sahani began to model Kabir Khan on hockey coach Maharaj Krishan Kaushik.[18] After hearing the storyline, Kaushik suggested that Sahani meet hockey player Mir Ranjan Negi (who faced accusations of throwing the match against Pakistan during the 1982 Asian Games)[19][20][21] Sahani has stated that he was unaware of Negi's tribulations while writing the script and that the resemblance with Negi's life was entirely coincidental.[22] Negi affirmed this point stating that he didn't "want to hog the limelight. This movie is not a documentary of Mir Ranjan Negi's life. It is in fact the story of a team that becomes a winning lot from a bunch of hopeless girls".[23] In response to the fact that the media equated Kabir Khan with Negi, Sahani said that "Our script was written a year and a half back. It is very unfortunate that something, which is about women athletes, has just started becoming about Negi."[18]

Casting and filming[edit]

I felt why has the girls’ team been given so little coverage. I shared the idea with Aditya (Chopra). He liked it and said stop everything else and concentrate on it. I started my research by spending time with hockey players [...] It’s just a matter of chance that Negi's story matches with Kabir Khan. There are many cases, like in Colombia, football players are killed for not performing well for the club. I had no idea about Negi’s story while writing the script, and he joined us after the script was ready. In fact, his name was suggested by M.K. Kaushik, who was the coach of the team that won the Commonwealth Games’ gold. On day one, when Negi read the script, he cried and it was then that we came to know about his story.[22]

Jaideep Sahni

Salman Khan was initially signed to do the lead role, but later withdrew due to creative differences with the director.[24] The role was later confirmed for Shah Rukh Khan (who had initially refused due to a schedule conflict with Karan Johar's Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna).[25] Khan eventually accepted the role partly because he used to play hockey in college: "I feel hockey as a sport has been monstrously neglected in our country. I used to play the game during college. In fact, I was quite a good hockey player. So the role was a lot like going back to my past."[26] Some media outlets have referred to Khan's role as offbeat because it departed from his usual onscreen romantic image and included neither lip syncing songs nor a single female lead.[12] The casting of the 16 actresses to portray the hockey players took over six months. Amin described the process as "very, very difficult" and "very strenuous because the requirement was they had to play – and act." A training camp was set up for four months, and the girls had to learn the rules of the game, take acting lessons and go through a strict diet. Moreover, safety precautions were taken.[27] Amin also stated that "learning hockey is very tricky unlike, say, football. You have to know how to hold the stick, how to manoeuvre it, so it doesn't look fake on screen (...) For those who were originally players, we had to make sure they were able to act as well. The dialogue was weighty; it isn't frivolous. It has to be delivered with a certain tone, in a certain manner." The actors, including Khan and the rest of the supporting cast engaged in numerous rehearsals and script readings before principal photography began.[12]

Kaushik and his team taught the crew "all [they] knew about hockey." He later stated in an interview that he "taught him (Sahni) everything about the game, starting from how the camp is conducted, how the girls come from different backgrounds and cultures, the psychological factors involved. Also how the coach faces pressure to select girls from different states and teams."[18] After Negi's name was suggested, the latter assembled a team of hockey players to train the actors.[18] He later commented on this experience stating that he "trained the girls for six months. Waking up at 4, traveling from Kandivili to Churchgate. We would retire around 11 in the night. It was tiring. But we were on a mission [...] They couldn't run; couldn't hold the hockey sticks. I ensured none of them [would have to] cut their nails or eyebrows (as the players do). The girls have worked very hard. I salute them."[19] Some of the actors such as Chitrashi, Sandia, and Raynia were cast because they were actual hockey players.[28]Rob Miller served as the Sport Action Director,[3][4] and worked with Negi to train the actors. Of working with Khan, Negi recalled that everything was planned, "including the penalty stroke that SRK missed. That shot alone took us nearly 20 hours as I was keen that it should be very realistic. I took the help of a lot of my former teammates. But more importantly, it was so easy working with SRK. He is unbelievably modest and was willing to do as many re-takes as we wanted."[20]

Chak De! India was filmed in India and Australia (Sydney and Melbourne). ReelSports Solutions cast 90 hockey players and 9,000 extras for the film.[29]


Chak De! India
Soundtrack album by Salim–Sulaiman
Released 1 August 2007 (2007-08-01)
Genre Film soundtrack
Length 28:92
Label YRF Music Sony Music
Producer Salim-Sulaiman
Salim–Sulaiman chronology
Chak De! India
Aaja Nachle
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Planet Bollywood 8/10 stars [30]

The soundtrack for Chak De! India was released on 1 August 2007 and was composed by Salim–Sulaiman with lyrics by Jaideep Sahni. Since the release of the film, the title track song, "Chak De! India" "began doubling as an anthem and was played at every sports event."[31] Salim Merchant has stated in this regard that the song "almost became the sports anthem of the country, especially after India won the Cricket World Cup [2011]. It was no longer our song but the country's song."[32][33] Indeed, after winning the 2011 Cricket World Cup, India's team player Virat Kohli "sang Chak de India to the crowd."[34] A few years later, after India beat South Africa at the 2015 Cricket World Cup, Nitin Srivastava of the BBC noted that: "MCG has erupted with Vande Mataram (the national song of India) and Chak De India (Go India!) slogans in the air! And there's no age barrier for cricket fans who came and enjoyed the match."[35]

No. Title Singers Length
1. "Chak De! India[36]"   Sukhwinder Singh, Salim–Sulaiman, Marianne D'Cruz 4:43
2. "Badal Pe Paaon Hai[37]"   Hema Sardesai 4:05
3. "Ek Hockey Doongi Rakh Ke[38]"   KK, Shahrukh Khan 5:36
4. "Bad Bad Girls"   Anushka Manchanda 3:39
5. "Maula Mere Le Le Meri Jaan[39]"   Salim Merchant, Krishna Beura 4:47
6. "Hockey – Remix"   Midival Punditz 5:17
7. "Sattar Minute"   Shahrukh Khan 2:05


Chak De! India premiered on 9 August 2007 at Somerset House in London for an audience of over 2000. The premiere was a part of the Film4 Summer Screen and "India Now" festivals.[40][41][42] It was released to theaters worldwide on 10 August 2007.[43] Although it was only slated for 400 screens in India (a result of the commercial failure of Yash Raj Films's two previous films)[43]Chak De! India "ran to packed houses even two months after its release" [44] and did particularly well in large cities.[44]


Critical reception[edit]

The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gave Chak De India a rating of 91%, based upon 11 reviews (10 fresh and 1 rotten).[45] On Metacritic, the film had an average score of 68 out of 100, based on 4 critics, indicating "Generally Favorable" reviews.[46]


(In response to the question, "How did you make the leap from TV to the movies?"): "I was in Mumbai shooting a series, and then some people wanted me to do movies. At the time I wasn't very keen, but there were some friends in TV that convinced me. You should do it, they said. I was more intellectually inclined to do serious cinema. I use to think I was this great actor that could get into characters and I'd read all the books on acting and could get into method acting. I told myself, this is what I am going to do. I am going to do cinema that makes a difference. Initially I didn't think the way I think now. I was in Mumbai I had some people I enjoyed working with and I said I will work with these guys and I did. Halfway through I realized that if I wanted to make a difference through my work I should get into the position of choice to invite as many people as possible into the cinema first. Once they came I could maybe entertain them and throw in bits of what I think should be said. For the last five or six years that has become very possible for me. I am clear that I am here to entertain as an actor. The cinema I do is highly entertaining for an Indian audience. Making intelligent cinema lies in the beauty and power of acting. The simpler it is, the more difficult it is to convince people. I just did a film, Chak De India, which is about the empowerment of women in sport in India. My main aim is that I would never sacrifice entertainment in the name of a message I have. But I am a complete believer in fun and entertainment in cinema.[47]

Shah Rukh Khan

Nikhat Kazmi of The Times of India gave the film 4 out of 5 stars and argues that it has "great performances by a bunch of unknowns, a gritty pace and a marvellous restraint make Chakde India an unbridled ode to patriotism without any hysterical chest-beating. And yes, for all you SRK fans and bashers, this time the verdict gotta be unanimous: Chakde Shah Rukh! Can you better this?"[48] India Today describes Chak De! India as, "the most feisty girl power movie to have come out of Bollywood ever. The girls, from the truculent Haryanvi Komal to the angry Bindiya, from the Punjabi Balbir to the very proper Punjabi, Chandigarh ki kudi Preeti, may be drawn from stereotypes but they shatter them with aggressive performances, staring Khan in the eye, almost defeating the Indian men's hockey team, assaulting a gang of boys and showing the six-time Australian team a thing or two about how to win."[49] Sudhish Kamath of The Hindu asks "when did we last make a solid ensemble film about sports – one that's not about a few players saving the day but about the triumph of teamwork? Chak De is that rare film where the hero watches from the stands and lets a bunch of 'what's-her-name-again' girls do all the winning [...] At another level, Chak De is about women's liberation. It is one of the best feminist films of our times. Next, the girls themselves are the closest we've seen to a representation of India in any sports movie we've seen. They are not 16 pretty young things. The casting is first-rate. The rawness in the performances actually makes you forget these are actors. Though we begin by warming up to the ethnic/race differences among the players, soon enough, Amin skirts their inter-racial conflicts behind the uniform, the great leveller."[50] Rajeev Masand of CNN-IBN gave the film 4 out of 5 stars and stated that "Chak De's... a winner all the way," he further added: "it's an immensely satisfying movie experience, I'm going to go with four out of five and two thumbs up for director Shimit Amin's Chak De India."[51] Shubhra Gupta of The Indian Express describes the film as "the most authentic, meticulously researched sports movie India has made."[52] Bharathi S. Pradhan in The Telegraph (Calcutta) stated that "Shah Rukh Khan bowled one of the finest deliveries of his career with Chak De India," describing the film as one that combined "an extremely well-knit screenplay with unrelentingly deft direction, 16 unknown, and not even glamorous, girls simply carried you with them, with one single known actor compelling you to watch Chak De India without blinking."[53]

Subhash K. Jha gave the film 3.5 stars noting that it is a "a fairly predictable story" with dialogue "quite often the stuff bumper stickers are made of." At the same time, he states that "Chak De India is an outright winner" that is "one of the finest sports-based dramas in living memory." He also suggests that "Amin turns the triumph-of-spirit formula inside out."[54] Khalid Mohamed gave it 3.5 stars in the Hindustan Times, stating "Milk shake, rattle and roll. Sporty girls are bashing up a bunch of eve-teasers in a fast-food restaurant. The hockey coach doesn’t intervene, whips on his dark glasses and smiles lightly. His girls have scored a hit. Cheers for Chak De! India, which may be predictable but compels you to root for a team of losers whom only an earth-angel can save from disastrous defeat.[55]


Jaspreet Pandohar of BBC gave Chak De! India 4 out of 5 stars stating that, "while the tale of the sporting underdog is hardly new, Jaideep Sahni's screenplay-offers a rare look at a popular Indian sport often overshadowed by cricket. But it's not the type of bat and ball, or the number of practice sessions that are at issue here. Instead, the gender and personal prejudices of the players underpin the story."[56] Andy Webster of The New York Times argues that the film gave a fresh look to the conventional underdog sports film and compared the premise to the win at the FIFA Women's World Cup.[2] Derek Elley of Variety describes the film as "a patriotic heartwarmer that scores some old-fashioned entertainment goals" and that it "is almost an anthem for India's new-found economic clout and its recent 60th-anniversary celebrations of independence from U.K. rule – and it gets a stirring title song from composing team Salim-Sulaiman and lyricist Jaideep Sahni (who also scripted). Thus, it's hardly a surprise when the team of 16 girls from all over India finally get it together to beat the bejeezus out of their international opponents."[57] Kirk Honeycutt, in The Hollywood Reporter, states that the "technical credits are first rate with excellent cinematography, quicksilver editing, musical montages of practice and a fine use of locations. "India" is definitely Bollywood, ashamed of neither sentimentality nor predictability. Yet its sharp-eyed view of Indian society makes for a world of difference from old-style, sugar-coated Bollywood films."[58]

Michael Dequina of was more critical of the film. He gave the film 2.5 out of 4 stars and calls it "a very familiar, very formula underdog sports movie with nothing to distinguish it from similar, equally slick Hollywood product ... there is not a compelling character or performance among the young actresses of varying acting experience [and] Khan is unusually detached, but then his autopilot effort fits the unchallenging role of a hardass coach looking for personal redemption."[59] Maitland McDonagh of TV Guide gave the film 2 out of 4 stars stating that it uses "sports-movie conventions to address larger cultural and political issues, and while it doesn't miss a cliche, it also invests every one with vigorous conviction."[60]


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