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Chak De! India

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Chak De! India
Theatrical release poster depicts coach Kabir Khan, looking over the bad Indian Women's National Field Hockey Team. Text at the bottom of the poster provides the title, tagline, production credits and release date.
Theatrical release poster
Directed byShimit Amin
Produced byAditya Chopra
Written byJaideep Sahni
Screenplay byJaideep Sahni
Story byJaideep Sahni
StarringShah Rukh Khan
Vidya Malvade
Shilpa Shukla
Sagarika Ghatge
Chitrashi Rawat
Vivan Bhatena
Mohit Chauhan
Joyshree Arora
Vibha Chibber
Anaitha Nair
Music bySalim–Sulaiman
CinematographySudeep Chatterjee
Edited byAmitabh Shukla
Distributed byYash Raj Films
Release date
  • 15 August 2007 (2007-08-15)
Running time
153 minutes
Budget200 million (equivalent to 490 million or US$6.8 million in 2019)[1]
Box office1.09 billion (equivalent to 2.6 billion or US$37 million in 2019)

Chak De! India (transl. Let's Go! India) is a 2007 Indian Hindi-language sports film directed by Shimit Amin and produced by Aditya Chopra, with a screenplay written by Jaideep Sahni, partially based on the 2004 film Miracle, with sports scenes choreographed by Rob Miller [2][3] and music by Salim–Sulaiman. It tells a fictional story about the Indian women's national field hockey team, which was inspired by the team's win at the 2002 Commonwealth Games, and explores themes such as feminism and sexism, the legacy of the partition of India, racial and religious bigotry, and ethnic and regional prejudice. The film stars Shahrukh Khan as Kabir Khan, former captain of the Indian men's national field-hockey team. After a disastrous loss to Pakistan, Khan is ostracized from the sport and he and his mother are driven from the family home by angry neighbors. Seven years later, to redeem himself, Khan becomes the coach of the Indian national women's hockey team and aims to turn its sixteen contentious players into a championship unit. The film was released worldwide on 15 August 2007, coinciding with India's 60th Independence Day,[4] and received positive feedback from critics.[5]

Chak De! India won a number of awards, 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 film's script for a place in its Margaret Herrick Library.[6][7] When the Indian Hockey Federation was reorganised in April 2008, former player Aslam Sher Khan said that he wanted "to create a 'Chak De' effect" in Indian hockey.[8] The film was screened in New Delhi on 17 August 2016, as part of the week long Independence Day Film Festival. The festival was jointly presented by the Indian Directorate of Film Festivals and Ministry of Defense, commemorating India's 70th Independence Day.[9][10]


Smiling young woman with shoulder-length, black hair
Anaitha Nair (Aliya Bose)
Smiling young woman in a light-brown shirt
Shilpa Shukla (Bindiya Naik)
Smiling young woman in a multi-coloured top
Chitrashi Rawat (Komal Chautala)
Serious-looking young woman, with her hair in a dark ponytail
Sagarika Ghatge (Preeti Sabarwal)
Smiling young woman in a yellow top
Vidya Malvade (Vidya Sharma)

Chak De! India opens in Delhi during the final minutes of a Hockey World Cup match between Pakistan and India, with Pakistan leading 1–0. When Indian team captain Kabir Khan (Shah Rukh Khan) is fouled, he takes a penalty stroke. His shot just misses, costing India the match. Soon afterwards, media outlets circulate a photograph of Khan shaking hands with the Pakistani captain. The sporting gesture is misunderstood, and the Muslim Khan[11][12] is suspected of "throwing" the game out of sympathy towards Pakistan. Religious prejudice[11][12][13] forces him and his mother (Joyshree Arora) from their family home.

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. According to Tripathi, the team has no future since the only long-term role for women is to "cook and clean". Uttamaji, however, tells him that Kabir Khan (whom no one has seen for seven years) wants to coach the team. Initially sceptical, Tripathi agrees to the arrangement.

Khan finds himself in charge of a group of 16 young women (each representing a different state), divided by their competitive nature and regional prejudices. Komal Chautala (Chitrashi Rawat), a village girl from Haryana, clashes with Preeti Sabarwal (Sagarika Ghatge) from Chandigarh; short-tempered Balbir Kaur (Tanya Abrol) from Punjab bullies Rani Dispotta (Seema Azmi) and Soimoi Kerketa (Nisha Nair), who are from remote villages in Jharkhand. Mary Ralte (Kimi Laldawla) from Mizoram and Molly Zimik (Masochon "Chon Chon" Zimik22), from Manipur in North-East India, face widespread racial discrimination, and sexually suggestive comments from some strangers. Team captain Vidya Sharma (Vidya Malvade) must choose between hockey and the wishes of her husband Rakesh's (Nakul Vaid) family, and Preeti's fiancé—Abhimanyu Singh (Vivan Bhatena), vice-captain of the India national cricket team—feels threatened by her involvement with the team.

Khan realizes that he can make the girls winners only if he can help them overcome their differences. During his first few days as coach he benches several players who refuse to follow his rules—including Bindiya Naik (Shilpa Shukla), his most experienced player. In response, Bindiya repeatedly encourages the other players to defy Khan. When she finally succeeds, Khan angrily resigns; however, he invites the staff and team to a farewell lunch at McDonald's. During the lunch, local boys make a pass at Mary; Balbir attacks them, triggering a brawl between the boys and the team. Khan, recognizing that they are acting as one for the first time, prevents the staff from intervening; he only stops a man from hitting one of the women from behind with a cricket bat, telling him that there are no cowards in hockey. In an about-face, after the fight the women ask Khan to remain as their coach.

The team faces new challenges. When Tripathi refuses to send the women's team to Australia for the World Cup, Khan proposes a match against the men's team. Although his team loses, their performance inspires Tripathi to send them to Australia after all. Bindiya is upset with Khan for choosing Vidya over her as the captain of the team. The result sees a loss in the tournament with a 7–0 to Australia. When Khan confronts Bindiya about her behavior on the field, Bindiya responds by seducing Khan, to which he rejects her advances and asks her to stay away from the game. Khan goes on to train the girls and again, which is followed by victories over England, Spain, South Africa, New Zealand, Argentina. Just before their game with Korea, Khan approaches Bindiya to go back in the field and break the strategy of 'Man to Man' marking by Korean team so they can win the match. Bindiya goes on to the field and with the help of Gunjan Lakhani manages to beat South Korea. They are again matched with Australia for the final; this time, they defeat the Hockeyroos for the World Cup. When the team returns home, their families treat them with greater respect and Khan, his good name restored, returns with his mother to their ancestral home.


Shortly after the film's release, the media began referring to the 16 actresses who portrayed the players as the "Chak De girls".[14][15] The panel of judges at the Screen Awards also used the term, awarding the 2008 Screen Award for Best Supporting Actress to the "Chak De girls".[16]


Actor Character State or city Position and number
Shah Rukh Khan Kabir Khan India Coach
Vidya Malvade Vidya Sharma India Captain and goalie (18)[17]
Anaitha Nair Aliya Bose India Right out (7)[17]
Tanya Abrol Balbir Kaur India Fullback (3)[17]
Shilpa Shukla Bindiya Naik India Center half (5)[17]
Arya Menon Gul Iqbal India Left (10)[17]
Shubhi Mehta Gunjan Lakhani India Right half (4)[17]
Chitrashi Rawat Komal Chautala India Right in (8)[17]
Kimi Laldawla Mary Ralte India Substitute (15)[17]
Masochon Zimik Molly Zimik India Left half (6)[17]
Sandia Furtado Nethra Reddy India Left out (11)[17]
Nichola Sequeira Nichola Sequeira[18] India Utility player (12)[14]
Sagarika Ghatge Preeti Sabarwal India Center forward (9)[17]
Kimberly Miranda Rachna Prasad[18] India Utility player (14)[14]
Seema Azmi Rani Dispotta India Right defender (2)[17]
Raynia Mascerhanas Raynia Fernandes[18] India Utility player (16)[14]
Nisha Nair Soimoi Kerketa India Substitute (17)[17]

Additional cast[edit]



A brief article about the victorious women's team at the 2002 Commonwealth Games inspired screenwriter Jaideep Sahni to create a film about the Indian women's hockey team,[20] and he modeled Kabir Khan on hockey coach Maharaj Krishan Kaushik.[21] After listening to the storyline Kaushik suggested that Sahani meet hockey player Mir Ranjan Negi, who faced accusations of throwing the match against Pakistan in the 1982 Asian Games.[22][23][24] Shah Rukh Khan stated in a speech delivered at the University of Edinburgh that the phrase Chak De! was originally "an inspirational martial cry that Sikh soldiers used while lifting logs in order to make bridges across rivers on their campaigns against their enemies. It implies the will to get up and get on with it."[25]

According to Sahani, he was unaware of Negi's plight while he wrote the script and any resemblance to Negi's life was coincidental.[26] Negi agreed, saying that he did not "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".[27][28] Responding to media reports equating Kabir Khan with Negi, Sahani said: "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."[21]


"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."

Jaideep Sahni[26]

Although Salman Khan was initially signed for the lead role, he later withdrew due to creative differences with the director.[29] Shah Rukh Khan (who had originally declined due to a scheduling conflict with Karan Johar's Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna) was later confirmed as Kabir Khan.[30] Khan 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."[31] Some media sources called the actor's role offbeat, since it departed from his usual romantic image and included neither lip synched songs nor a single female lead.[15]

Casting of the 16 actresses as 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 four-month training camp was held where the girls learned the rules of the game, took acting lessons and followed a strict diet; safety precautions were also taken.[32] According to Amin, "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, participated in a number of rehearsals and script readings before principal photography began.[15]

Kaushik and his team taught the crew "all [they] knew about hockey". In an interview, he later said 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".[21] After Negi was suggested, the latter assembled a team of hockey players to train the actors.[21] He later said that he "trained the girls for six months. Waking up at 4, traveling from Kandivali 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".[22] Some of the actors, such as Chitrashi, Sandia, and Raynia, were cast because they were hockey players.[33]

Rob Miller was the sport action director, choreographing the sports scenes,[2][3] and worked with Negi to train the actors. About 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".[23]


Chak De! India premiered on 13 August 2007 at Somerset House in London to an audience of over 2,000 during the Film4 Summer Screen and India Now festivals.[34][35][36] It was released globally in theaters on 15 August 2007,[4] playing on only 400 screens in India because of the commercial failure of Yash Raj Films's two previous films.[4]

Critical response[edit]

Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gave Chak De! India a rating of 92% based on 13 reviews (12 "fresh" and one "rotten"), with an average score of 7.2 out of 10.[37] On Metacritic, the film had a score of 68 from four critics, indicating generally favorable reviews.[38]

In an NPR interview via affiliate WBUR-FM, Mumbai Mirror columnist Aseem Chhabra called Chak De! India "an example of a film that's been made within the framework of Bollywood and yet it is a very different film. It does take up some realistic issues, and what I really liked about the film was that the women who acted, you know, who are part of the team, each one of them got a chance. Their personality, their characters, were very well-written, and so, the superstar in the film was Shahrukh Khan, who was the coach of the team; he doesn't sort of take over the whole film. Every supporting character gets a role, and it's a very inspiring movie that really changed the mood in India. People loved it".[5] Nikhat Kazmi of The Times of India gave the film four out of five stars stating that it was a film of "great performances by a bunch of unknowns."[39] India Today called Chak De! India "the most feisty girl power movie to have come out of Bollywood ever."[40] Sudhish Kamath of The Hindu wrote, "At another level, Chak De is about women's liberation. It is one of the best feminist films of our times."[41] Rajeev Masand of CNN-IBN gave the film four out of five stars, saying "Chak De's ... a winner all the way."[42] Shubhra Gupta of The Indian Express called the film "the most authentic, meticulously researched sports movie India has made".[43] In Kolkata's Telegraph, Bharathi S. Pradhan wrote that the film combines "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".[44] Jaspreet Pandohar of the BBC gave Chak De! India four out of five 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."[45] Andy Webster of The New York Times wrote that the film gave a fresh look to the conventional underdog sports film, comparing its premise to the U.S. victory in the 1991 FIFA Women's World Cup.[46] Derek Elley of Variety called Chak De! India "a patriotic heartwarmer that scores some old-fashioned entertainment goals." [47] In The Hollywood Reporter, Kirk Honeycutt wrote that the "technical credits are first rate with excellent cinematography, quicksilver editing, musical montages of practice and a fine use of locations."[48]

Michael Dequina of was more critical of the film, giving it 2.5 out of four stars and calling it "a very familiar, very formula underdog sports movie with nothing to distinguish it from similar, equally slick Hollywood product."[49] Maitland McDonagh of TV Guide gave Chak De! India two stars out of four, writing that the film 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."[50] Although Subhash K. Jha gave the film 3.5 stars, calling it "a fairly predictable story" with dialogue "quite often the stuff bumper stickers are made of", he wrote that "Chak De India is an outright winner" and "one of the finest sports-based dramas in living memory."[51] Khalid Mohamed gave the film 3.5 stars in the Hindustan Times stating that the film "may be predictable but compels you to root for a team of losers whom only an earth-angel can save from disastrous defeat".[52]

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.[53]

Box office[edit]

Due to the film's strong critical response, theaters reported 80-percent occupancy for its opening weekend.[4] Chak De! India topped the Indian box office during its first two weeks,[54] and played to full houses during its first two months.[55] The film was particularly successful in large cities.[55] Chak De! India was the third-highest-grossing film of 2007 in India, with domestic net earnings of 66,54,00,000 that year.[56] By the end of its theatrical run, the film grossed ₹102 crore ($27.05 million) worldwide, including ₹85.86 crore gross (₹66.54 crore net) in India and $3.94 million (₹15.76 crore) overseas.[57]


Social impact[edit]

Chak De! India has become an influential film. The title track song "Chak De! India," now doubles as a sports anthem in India and is played at numerous sports events.[58] According to Salim Merchant, 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".[59][60] After India's World Cup victory, Indian team player Virat Kohli "sang 'Chak de India' to the crowd".[61] When India defeated South Africa at the 2015 Cricket World Cup, Nitin Srivastava of the BBC noted: "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".[62]

In addition, the suspension of the Indian Hockey Federation in April 2008 also indicated the film's influence. India Today used the title to label the event in two articles, titled "Operation Chak De impact: Jothikumaran resigns"[63] and "Operation Chak de impact: Furore in Lok Sabha".[64] 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".[65] 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."[66] In another interview, he emphasised that he wants "to create a Chak De effect" on hockey in India.[8]


Chak De! India
Soundtrack album by
Released11 July 2007 (2007-07-11)
StudioYRF Studios, Mumbai
GenreFeature film soundtrack
LabelYRF Music
ProducerYash Raj Films
Salim–Sulaiman chronology
Chak De! India
Aaja Nachle

The soundtrack album of Chak De! India and the film's background music is composed by Salim–Sulaiman. This film marks the duo's first collaboration with actor Shah Rukh Khan. The lyrics for all the songs were written by Jaideep Sanhi. The album features seven tracks with a remix song and a dialogue by Shah Rukh Khan from this film. The album was released on 11 July 2007, and upon its release 11,00,000 units of the album were sold, making it the eleventh highest selling soundtrack album of the year, according to the Indian trade website Box Office India.[67]

The album received positive reviews from critics. Planet Bollywood rated the album 8/10 stars, with "Chak De! India",[68] "Badal Pe Paaon Hai",[69] "Ek Hockey Doongi Rakh Ke"[70] and "Maula Maula Le Le Meri Jaan"[71] as their top picks. Then stated "Salim-Sulaiman have shown that just like the girl’s hockey team, every underdog has his/her day. The album is a relief from the usual Himeshsonic Pritammatic soundtracks that are flooding the Bolly music scene today. Here’s hoping that the duo get more contracts and bring us some more fresh tracks."[72]

1."Chak De! India"Sukhwinder Singh, Salim–Sulaiman, Marianne D'Cruz4:43
2."Badal Pe Paaon Hai"Hema Sardesai4:05
3."Ek Hockey Doongi Rakh Ke"KK, Shahrukh Khan5:14
4."Bad Bad Girls"Anushka Manchanda3:39
5."Maula Mere Le Le Meri Jaan"Salim Merchant, Krishna Beura4:47
6."Hockey" (Remix)Midival Punditz5:17
7."Sattar Minute"Shahrukh Khan2:05

See also[edit]


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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]