I had been to "Chak De India" on Sunday. The movie was into its third week, yet the crowd was substantial considering a rainy afternoon. A group of "commenting" spectators were sitting a few rows behind us. As soon as Shahrukh took the hockey stick in the opening scene, the "commentators" yelled "Goal missed, guru"! Yes, they were right! During the players registration scene, when Nethra tells "Nethra Reddy from Andhra Pradesh", one of them yelled again "Yaake Karnataka avru yaaroo ilwa?" (Why nobody from Karnataka?) This smart comment was received well by his friends, who cheered him with loud laughter, that would have put the movie villains of the seventies to shame. Even in the noisiest of scenes (when spectators in the stadium were cheering for the players) the group never missed an opportunity to comment. And loud enough to be heard across the hall.
After the movie ended, we saw that this group had no more than 5 people. "Why do these people come to the movie if they are not interested?", my dad remarked, obviously annoyed. I looked at them - they were the tapori looking guys in their twenties and nobody wore a shirt with less than two buttons unbuttoned. "These guys have not come to watch the movie. If you had observed their comments, they knew what was coming up next. Its quite easy to say that they are watching the movie for the third time at least. So, they have come here to spend some 'quality time' with friends. It shows that they have no other work to do. They are considered worthless at home, so they spend most of their time with their 'friends' - who not only sympathize with them but also acknowledge their smartness. If any of them had anything interesting to say about the movie, he could just tell it to his friends. But no, thats not the point. Whats more important for him is that he should be "heard", people should know that he exists. Its okay if people hate him, but he wants to be recognized more than anything else. He would have fallen in love with some girl in his locality. He would not have had the courage to convey his love to that girl. Even if he had, the girl would have been married to someone of her parents' choice, as he was not yet settled. And these guys would have turned into the 'Ee hudgeerella hinge' philosophy. And these are the only people on earth who believe that the movies where they show a millionaire's daughter falling in love with a good-natured auto driver - as reality" I finished my elaborate analysis, turned towards my dad and smiled. "I think you are right", my dad nodded.
Coming back to the movie, my expectations were low considering the fact that it was from YashRaj banner. But, I was pleasantly surprised. I am not with the euphoric crowd who are declaring the movie as great, but it is a nice and enjoyable film. There are some things which makes the movie work.
- Feverish patriotism - Even I felt it to some extent while watching the movie, but back home when I was thinking about the movie, I started feeling that it was just a match after all
- Public fury over cricket (The disappointing performance of Indian cricket team in the world cup has caused a euphoric love among the public for other sports. Will students bunk their classes and employees skip their office to watch a hockey match in future? I have serious doubts on that!)
The problem with a movie of this genre is that it will be stuck with cliches, which are often unavoidable. Problems and conflicts in the team, regional stereotypes, starting as underdogs, making a comeback from a difficult position to win - are some things which become very essential for a movie of this kind. [Indian cricket team's comeback victory against Australia in Kolkota test makes a great sports movie, but Australia thrashing Srilanka without any upsets in World cup final would make a very boring sports film :D]
Though the director has tackled lot of issues like gender discrimination, regional differences, administrative loopholes, lack of facilities and technology support, religious intolerance - he has not gone too overboard or made it preachy. For a change, Shahrukh did not get on my nerves - in fact his performance is very restrained and likeable. Thank God, he has given his overworked facial muscles the much deserved rest. This movie is no 'Swades', but still quite a decent film in the flood of junk that Bollywood produces week after week.