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Chak De! India

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Chak De! India
Chak De! India.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed by Shimit Amin
Produced by Aditya Chopra
Written 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
Budget 240 million (US$3.7 million)[1]
Box office 1.05 billion (US$16 million)[2]

Chak De! India (English: Go India!) is a 2007 Hindi-language Indian sports drama film about field hockey in India. It is directed by Shimit Amin and produced by Yash Raj Films, with action by Rob Miller of ReelSports.

Chak De! India explores religious bigotry, the legacy of the partition of India, ethnic and regional prejudice, and sexism in contemporary India through field hockey. Production for the film began after Jaideep Sahni decided to write a fictional screenplay based on the winning of the Gold by the Indian women's field hockey team at the 2002 Commonwealth Games after reading about it in the newspaper.[3][4] Thus the characters, while inspired by the real team and coaches, were invented by Sahni. Although some media outlets compared Shah Rukh Khan's role of Kabir Khan to real-life hockey player Mir Ranjan Negi, Sahani has stated that he was unaware of Negi's tribulations while writing the script and that the resemblance with Negi's life was coincidental.

Made on a budget of 240 million (US$3.7 million), Chak De! India earned a worldwide gross revenue of 1056.5 million (US$16 million). By the end of its theatrical run, Box Office India declared the film a "blockbuster". It also became the third-highest-grossing Bollywood film of 2007. Chak De! India was critically acclaimed and went on to win numerous awards in the "Best Film" category including the National Film Award for Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment.

The suspension of the Indian Hockey Federation in April 2008 emphasised the film's influence. After a new hockey council was formed, former hockey player Aslam Sher Khan stated in an interview, "We have to make a Team India as you have seen in Bollywood blockbuster Chak De! India. There are players from several parts of the country. We have to unite them to make a powerful force."[5]


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, the media begin to circulate a photograph of Khan accepting a handshake from the captain of the Pakistan team. This action leads to a nation-wide smear campaign which alleged that Khan (who is a Muslim)[6] might have "thrown" the game in an act of sympathy towards Pakistan. The religious prejudice exhibited towards Khan by the entire society at large[6][7] forces him and his mother (Joyoshree 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.

Khan thus finds himself in charge of a group of 16 young women from various sections of India, who are divided by their own competitive natures and individual prejudices. While Komal Chautala (Chitrashi Rawat) from Haryana, conflicts with Preeti Sabarwal (Sagarika Ghatge) from Chandigarh, Balbir Kaur (Tanya Abrol) from Punjab has an extremely short temper and bullies Rani Dispotta (Seema Azmi) and Soimoi Kerketa (Nisha Nair), belonging to the remote villages in Jharkhand. Mary Ralte (Kimi Laldawla) from Mizoram and Molly Zimik (Masochon "Chon Chon" Zimik) from Manipur (in North-East India) are both treated as "foreigners" by virtually everyone they meet and face repeated sexual harassment. 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 realises that he can only unite the women if they develop the discipline to work as a team. This leads him to have his assistant Krishnaji (Vibha Chhibber) bench a number of players during the first few days, including the most experienced player, Bindia Naik (Shilpa Shukla). In response, Bindia engineers a revolt which leads Khan to resign. As a gesture of good will, Khan, however, invites Krishnaji, the team manager Sukhlal (Javed Khan), and the girls to a farewell lunch. During the lunch, a few boys start teasing Mary, leading to a large brawl between the girls and the boys. The quarrel, however, unites the girls and destroys their anger towards Khan. They request him to remain as their coach. Khan, impressed by the display of their team spirit, eventually agrees and further trains them on various aspects.

Their newly found unity is, however, challenged by Tripathi who suddenly decides that the women's team will not go to Australia for "The World Championship." Khan, however, forces him to agree to a challenge match with the men's team on condition that if the girls win, they will be allowed to go to Australia. The girls eventually lose the match, but their courageous performance is well praised by the men's team and forces Tripathi to change his mind and send them to Australia. During "The World Cup", the girls compete against teams such as the Hockeyroos (Australia), the Black Sticks Women (New Zealand), the Las Leonas (Argentina), and the South Korean team among others. While still working to overcome their differences, the girls eventually learn to act as a single unit, leading them to win the Championship. In doing so, they not only destroyed the prejudices which once separated them, but also proved to their families and country the merits of women's hockey. Khan, restoring his reputation and proving his mettle, returns his ancestral home with his mother, welcomed by the once angry neighbours.



Chak De girls[edit]

Shortly after the film's release, the media began referring to the 16 actresses who portrayed members of the team as the Chak De girls.[9][10] 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.[11]

Actor Character portrayed State Position
Anaitha Nair Aliya Bose M.P. Right Out, No. 7
Tanya Abrol Balbir Kaur Punjab Full back, No. 3
Shilpa Shukla Bindiya Naik Indian Railways Center half, No. 5
Arya Menon Gul Iqbal Uttar Pradesh Left, No. 10
Shubhi Mehta Gunjan Lakhani Andhra Pradesh Right HalfM, No. 4
Chitrashi Rawat Komal Chautala Haryana Right In, No. 8
Kimi Laldawla Mary Ralte Mizoram Defender, No. 15.
Masochon Zimik Molly Zimik Manipur Left Half (back), No. 06
Sandia Furtado Nethra Reddy Andhra Pradesh Left Out, No. 11
Nichola Sequeira Nichola Sequeira Maharashtra Bench /Utility player, No. 12
Sagarika Ghatge Preeti Sabarwal Chandigarh Center Forward, No. 9
Kimberly Miranda Rachna Prasad Bihar Utility player, No. 14
Seema Azmi Rani Dispotta Jharkhand Right Defender, No. 2
Raynia Mascerhanas Raynia Fernandes Maharashtra Utility player, No.
Nisha Nair Soimoi Kerketa Jharkhand Defense, No. 17
Vidya Malvade Vidya Sharma M.P. Captain and Goalie, No. 18



Many of the incidents shown in the movie are true. How the coach actually throws a girl out when she is not listening, and then goes out himself and there are three to four other girls also standing there because they disobeyed his instructions. The actual game-situations we had to actually challenge another team after being disallowed from participating in an international tournament's qualifiers, and give it in writing, that we will qualify [...] And lastly the coach's portrayal, he goes to the match on a scooter. The team wins, but he still returns on a scooter.[12]

—Kaushik on Chak De! India

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.[13] Director Shimit Amin noted the lack of coverage of the women's team by the media and stated that "there are a lot of odds these players are up against".[14]

The screenplay drew from interviews with current members of the women's field hockey team as well as the coaches. Sahni noted that, "the story of Chak De was deeply inspired by the real life story of ex Chief National Coach Maharaj Krishan Kaushik and his Indian Women's hockey team's real feat of winning the Commonwealth and many other championships."[15] Kaushik subsequently suggested hockey player Mir Ranjan Negi's name to the production crew. After Sahini approached them both, Kaushik and Negi became involved with the development of the film. While not initially enthusiastic about being involved in the film, Negi changed his mind after reading the screenplay.

The media often compared the character of Kabir Khan to Negi (who faced accusations of throwing the match against Pakistan during the 1982 Asian Games).[16][17][18][19] In response Negi commented that, "this movie is not a documentary of Mir Ranjan Negi's life".[20] Sahani has also stated that he was unaware of Negi's tribulations while writing the script and that the resemblance with Negi's life was coincidental.[21]

Metaphorical background[edit]

How the expression Chak De has been literally used to describe the metaphorical characteristics is:

On a metaphorical note Thareja explores "The term ‘Chak De’ (meaning: ‘pick up’) has emerged stronger, graduating from a mere bi-syllable word in Punjabi language to an expression of hope; [Popularised] through the broadbasing of a title of Hindi Bollywood film. This dialect is now well dispersed globally encompassing a schema of mentoring, motivation, and of overcoming misdemeanours. Infact, ‘Chak De’ remained as much normal through the ages as a special one it has become post the melodrama.
The melodious title song of the movie "Chak De! India" primarily acts as a refreshing reminder to the success in a Hockey game-play, as also a future folklore of inciting a nationalistic spirit. The movie: ‘Chak De’ (which displays a format or template of inducting ‘motivation for winning’ a series of games) proffers among the actors (who play as members of Indian Hockey team), a paradigm of real team spirit as per the original designs to the evolution of his sport Hockey".[22]

Casting and filming[edit]

Salman Khan was initially signed to do the lead role, but later withdrew due to creative difference with the director[23] The role was confirmed for ShahRukh, who had initially refused it when it was offered to him by producer Aditya Chopra due to a conflicting schedule at the time when he was working on Karan Johar's Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna. However, because of the long process taken for pre-production works, he was able to take up the part.[24] In an interview with Rediff, Khan stated that he also accepted the role of Kabir Khan because he liked "the thought of a film whose plot is about women [...] I think young women should be encouraged in every field of life. It's difficult being a woman and that's why I try do such films every year."[25] In addition, he was a hockey player during his college days and aspired to be a professional hockey player before he suffered a back injury.[26] Khan noted that while this background helped him during the filming, he also felt that the experience of playing again after a long time was "very difficult and different". Khan tore a hamstring three days before the filming was over.[24][27]

Khan's role is described as offbeat because it departed from his usual onscreen romantic image and didn't include any lip syncing songs and no female lead.[28] The casting of the 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, precautions were taken to make sure of the safety of the actors.[29] He noted: "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 went through a lot of rehearsals and script readings before principal photography began.[28]

Kaushik and his team taught the crew "all [they] knew about hockey." In an interview, Kaushik stated, "I 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."[12] After Negi's name was suggested, the latter assembled a team of hockey players to train the girls in the film.[12]

Negi coached the cast stating, "I 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."[16] Some of the actors such as Chitrashi, Sandia, and Raynia were cast because they were actual hockey players.[30] ReelSports, under the direction of Sport Action Director Rob Miller,[31][32] also worked with Negi to train the girls and Khan for the film. 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."[18][33]

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.[34]


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

The soundtrack for Chak De! India was released on 1 August 2007 and is composed by Salim-Sulaiman with lyrics by Jaideep Sahni. Salim Merchant commented in a 29 February 2012 interview that the title song, "Chak De! India," "almost became the sports anthem of the country, especially after India won the Cricket World Cup. It was no longer our song but the country's song."[35][36] Salim-Sulaiman composed the song with this intention.[37]

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


Chak De! India had its international premiere on 9 August 2007 at Somerset House in London as a part of the India Now festival, a three-month season celebrating India's culture and its contribution to London life.[40][41] It premiered globally in cinemas in 10 August 2007. In India, the film was released in 400 screens, a relatively minimal number at the time, which was a result of the commercial failure of previous releases by Yash Raj Films.[42]

The film was screened on 30 May 2009 at the opening of the SPAR Cup in Durban, South Africa to welcome the Indian Women's National Field Hockey Team.[43] The SPAR Cup is a lead up to the 2009 Hockey Champions Challenge in October. India competed against three other teams: Hockeyroos, Las Leonas, and the South African Women's National Field Hockey Team.[44] It was also invited to be screened at the 21st Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) held in 18–26 October 2008. Among the 790 films from 72 countries, Chak De! was showcased in the Winds of Asia-Middle East section which features some of the outstanding films from East Asia, South East Asia, South Asia and the Middle East.[45] 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.[46]

Home media[edit]

The DVD and Blu-ray Disc were released by Yash Raj Films on 3 November 2007 as a 2 disc pack with subtitles in English, Arabic, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, Tamil and Malayalam languages. The companion disc with special features included 32 minutes of deleted scenes (without subtitles), music videos, a documentary on the making of the film, and guest appearances by the Chak De Girls and members of the India women's national field hockey team on CNN-IBN and NDTV.[47]


Critical reception[edit]

Chak De! India was critically acclaimed in India and abroad.


Subhash K. Jha gave the film a rave review stating, "First things first! "Chak De India" is an outright winner. A triumph of the spirit, and of craftsmanship! While director Shimit Amin of "Ab Tak Chhappan" fame has crafted a film with immense staying power and exceptional integrity and gusto, the thought-process behind the endearing endeavour harks back to a series of well-crafted Hollywood films about team spirit, the low-spirited team and the burnt-out disgraced and exiled coach who motivates the team and galvanises his own dormant spirit into a wide-alert status."[48] 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?"[49][50] 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."[51] 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."[52] 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."[53] Apart from critics, Chak De! India tied with Taare Zameen Par for the Best film of 2007 according to various Bollywood movie directors such as Madhur Bhandarkar, David Dhawan, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Anurag Basu, and Sriram Raghavan.[54]


Anil Sinanan of The Times adds that, "First time director Shimit Amin has fashioned a gripping film: we keep rooting for our girls even though it is fairly obvious what the final result will be. This is achieved via a script which eliminates most of the usual trappings of the formula, and focuses on the game. Romance is absent, parents are sidelined and no one breaks out into song and dance, Lagaan-style whilst training."[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.[57] Maitland McDonagh of TV Guide gave the film 2.5 out of 4 stars and describes it as "A rare mainstream Indian movie without musical numbers (though it features original songs), Shimit Amin and Jaideep Sahni's inspirational sports drama shoulders an unusually heavy thematic load, including the quest for personal redemption of a disgraced athlete, second-rate treatment of women's teams and the need for modern India to set aside inter-state and -faith rivalries in favor of loyalty to a united nation."[58] 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."[59]

Box office[edit]

Upon release, the film recorded a below average opening in India. This lower-than-expected occupancy level was an outcome of its limited release in various territories including West Bengal.[42] However, due to the strong critical response the film received, collections increased with the final outcome of over 80% occupancy for the weekend.[42] Subsequently, Chak De! India was granted tax exemptions by the state of Bihar (which reduced tickets prices).[60] The film's box office collections increased and it eventually grossed 220 million (US$3.4 million) in its first week.[61] By the end of its theatrical run, Chak De! India became the third highest grossing film of 2007 in India, with revenues of 676.9 million (US$11 million) domestically.[62] Box Office India declared it a "Blockbuster."[62]

Chak De! India opened at number 20 in the US, number 11 in the UK, and number 12 in Australia.[63] It earned a total of 35 million (US$550,000) in the United Kingdom, 45 million (US$700,000) in North America, and 35 million (US$550,000) from the remaining overseas proceeds.[64]


Chak De! India has won numerous awards including eight for Best Film from: The Apsara Film & Television Producers Guild, The Australian Indian Film Festival, The Billie Awards, The International Indian Film Academy Awards (IIFA), The Screen Awards, The UNFPA-Laadli Media Awards, The V. Shantaram Awards, and The Zee Cine Awards. It also received the National Film Award for Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment.[65]


Suspension of IHF[edit]

The suspension of the Indian Hockey Federation in April 2008 emphasised the film's influence. India Today used the film to label the event in two articles, titled "Operation Chak De impact: Jothikumaran resigns"[66] and "Operation Chak de impact: Furore in Lok Sabha".[67] The Indiatimes, in an article titled, "Five wise men set for a Chak De act" also argued, "It looks like Indian hockey has done a real Chak de this time around".[68] In addition, former hockey player Aslam Sher Khan, who was appointed by the Indian Olympic Association to head a committee which will replace the IHF, pointed to the film as a model to work towards. He stated in an interview, "We have to make a Team India as you have seen in Bollywood blockbuster Chak De! India. There are players from several parts of the country. We have to unite them to make a powerful force."[5] In another interview, he emphasised that he wants "to create a Chak De effect" on hockey in India.[69]


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