There is an element of predictability about sports flicks...you know that the underdog will win in the end, you know that the team will come together in the most crucial moments and a lot of other things about these movies, but they nevertheless set the adrenaline pumping and occasionally, a movie like Chak De! actually manages to raise some patriotic fervour.
Chak De! India, directed by Shimit Amin and produced by YashRaj productions in what turns out to be a classic departure from the tradition of Yashraj movies, was a smart movie. It has every element that a sports movie generally has and shows SRK in a role that the superstar carries off with aplomb. The movie has clapworthy moments aplenty, almost all of Shahrukh's lines are punchlines and the women players acquit themselves well. The second half of the movie, has more hockey than anything else, but I found myself hooked. The girls play their part to perfection. The good part about the movie is that it is not dialogue heavy and the emotions it arouses are a result of carefully built situations rather than long drawn out scenes. The songs are not really put in there without no purpose, you really do not register them as they flow along with the story.
Performance wise, SRK puts in a fine turn as the disgraced player turned coach seeking redemption. It is refreshing to see him in this avatar with no hammy lines or romantic scenes. The ladies all put in great performances, almost everyone has atleast one or two scenes to themselves and lines that stay with you long after you have left the theater. Shimit Amin scores in the direction department, managing to incorporate all the cliches required of such movies and yet managing to make a taut engaging movie. The scene at McDonald's, the men vs women game and its conclusion, the end of the first game at the world cup, the conclusion and a lot of other scenes leave an impact. In the World Cup final, you see ShahRukh preparing for imminent glory, he is pulling up his coat as the first penalty is scored and is pulling up his collar as the second one is scored, once the win is completed though, he can barely manage to stand straight, his knees give way and he only manages to grab the sideboards and look at the tricolor.
I would recommend this to everyonewho wants to see a good sports flick...SRK fans will of course enjoy this, but those who hate SRK in his stereotypical roles, you have to see this one so you can feel that all your cribbing has forced him to take up something different.
PS: Unrelated, but had to put this up here! I was sitting in a McDonald's with my friends before the movie and the India - England test was in progress. The moment Kumble reached his century, the entire crowd there burst out in spontaneous applause...It was great to be there and be one of the crowd celebrating unabashedly what definitely was a great moment for Kumble in his 17 yr long career...