Having embodied the all-singing all-dancing hero in countless romantic dramas, Shah Rukh Khan plays it low key in Chak De India. Trading the glamorous Swiss mountains for a rundown field, he takes on the role of Kabir Khan, a disgraced Indian hockey champion given the chance to redeem his name by coaching the national women's team. Surprisingly, it's not this favourite star of Bollywood, but the bevy of feisty debutantes who raise spirits in Shimit Amin's entertaining sports flick.
After missing a crucial goal against Pakistan in the world cup, Kabir Khan (Khan) is hounded out of the Indian Men's National hockey team and his home town by his own countrymen. After several years in the wilderness, the former captain is given a second chance when asked to mentor the women's team to the world championship. But it's far from jolly hockey sticks on the pitch when Khan's motley crew of village bumpkins and spoilt rich kids resist playing it his way. Will he whip the gang into shape up and take them to Sydney, or miss the opportunity of the lifetime? The answer's obvious, watching them qualify is fun anyway.
"TALENTED AND WELL-CHARACTERISED FEMALE CAST"
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. Whether it be a young bride or rural tomboy defying cultural expectations, it's the talent and determination of the well characterised female cast that breathes life into Chak De India!.
Chak De India! is out in the UK on 10th August 2007.