Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Chak De India (2007)
'Chak De India' was the next SRK movie I saw after 'Om Shanti Om' and in both of them I was immediately struck by something - wow, this guy can actually act if he lets himself do so. Don't get me wrong - I am not a SRK hater and in fact seek out his movies because his popularity gets quality films green lit (Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Mohabattein, Veer Zaara, etc). It's just that as his popularity grew he just coasted by in every movie playing his alter-ego Rahul and never really strayed far from the character that brought him so much fame & fortune. But the great ones eventually do so if they want to be remembered more than a one-trick pony. Like Dilip Kumar in 'Amar' & Amitabh Bachchan in 'Sholay' - they need to do more than just play themselves, save the day and end up with the girl at the end. SRK seems to have done this very thing with 'Chak De India' - an homage to the Hollywood movie 'A League of Their Own'.
SRK chooses to play the character quite differently than his counterpart Tom Hanks did. He plays a Muslim in this movie (something he rarely does) that loses a high profile field hockey match that in turn questions his allegiance to his own country. This is not some fake Bollywood made up stuff - it is something I have witnessed in India and was completely taken back by. To be told that you are not a patriot just because you are not Hindu and that you should go 'back to Pakistan' is still a sentiment that rears it's ugly head all too often. But this movie is about much more than that - it's also about girl power in a male-dominated society and how people from different parts of India can come together for a common cause. Sure, it's a sports movie so you know everything is going to work out in the end. But the sheer talent of the actors (SRK included), lack of any silly melodrama/slapstick comedy/love interest and mature exploration of controversial subject matter all combine to make this a top notch film. Keeping with the sports theme the movie had precious few songs but Maula Mere was the clear stand out and is sung by Salim-Sulaiman.