Forget twice; I rarely would want to pay and see a Yash Raj film once, these days. But this is an exception. I am already looking out for the next group that is going to the theatres. Not that I slept off or dint get the plot the first time around. This just is a film that works.
My stand on Shah Rukh is a bit complex. Unlike every other homosapien I have discussed the subject with, I liked him in Devdas. I ofcourse liked him in Swades. One of my all time favorite hindi film is Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa and I think I watched DDLJ 3 times. But the list kinda tapers after that. I think he has done a fantastic job in this film. However, contrary to all the reviews you will read and promos you will see, this film is not about SRK and he has very little to do with why this film works.
I like to think that films are like a magic act. You have to hold the attention of the audience until the act is completed. You have to hold the spell. If they break away in the middle and get distracted, the act falls flat on its face. Films work that way too. The ones that can hold the spell for the most part, work. That is why we still enjoy cinema at this day and time, when everyone knows the trick and also how it is done. That is also why films have to be believable these days – to keep the spell.
Chak de had a lot of almost-spell-spoiling moments (a.k.a Yash Raj moments) for me.
For example, when Kabir tells Bindiya “only you know how to break the man-to-man strategy” (I thought he made it sound like ‘Chakravyuh’);
Or when the Indian men’s hockey team plays against the women’s team. I was deperately hoping it will be a ‘dream’ sequence or something;
Or when the cliched ‘Shenoy’ish background score happens when Kabir was leaving his house;
Or when the ‘cricketer’ mouths some very cliched, chauvinistic lines.
But none of them quite break the spell, really.
In my life, I have come across numerous women who are fitter, stronger, more intelligent, more mature and definitely smarter than me (I am not sure about better drivers, though ;)). It was my triathlete (girl) friend who taught me the A,B and C of long distance running and swimming. My most favorite bosses have been women. So ‘feminism’ is a redundant concept for me. However, I do realize that the real world is very different and I know that there are glass ceilings in almost every profession. That notwithstanding, I think ‘Chak De’ has too many MCPs and feministic lines for my liking.
Anyway….let me get to the best part…things I loved about the film:
– The production value! I think Chak De is as sleek as any other sports film I have seen. The world cup game sequences are mind boggling. I remember watching the Mexican film ‘Goal’ recently and not liking the game sequences, which looked digitally enhanced. Not Chak De! The cinematography is exhilarating. I did not think too much of Sudeep Chatterjee after Dor and Iqbal, but the man kicks ass here. The shot when Bindiya Naik is sitting by herself in the locker room, against the wall, is worth a million dollars. But the best shots are the dolly shots of the games. Wow!!!
– I thought the background score worked, except the scenes of Shahrukh leaving his house.
– Shimit Amin. I think he will become a very important director of our time. I loved’Ab Tak Chappan’ and I think this is a great second act. The way he has paced the film is almost perfect! and I think he has got the casting spot on!! and he has made each of the girls such endearing characters, that we almost remember all the first names while leaving the theatre!
– The girls! I am told that most of them are athletes of some sort and almost none of them, actors of any sort. However, they hold their own pretty well. They play well, look gorgeous and make you smile most of the time!
– Jaideep Sahni. For someone who wrote ‘Company’ and ‘Khosla ka Ghosla’, this is definitely a different ‘turf’ and to be honest, I think he did half of Shimit’s job even before the shooting began.
– The montages. wow!!! everybody rise and clap….there are no lip syncs to songs in this film!!!! and if that is not an achievement by itself, each of the montages kick some serious ass….perfect!
We watched the film on saturday night and half way into it, I got a call from one of the actresses on The River, who told me she wouldnt be able to make it to the shoot sunday morning, because her grand mother passed away. That was a mini disaster and meant that I had to make atleast 25 calls Immediately, to firefight. But I dint move an inch until the last of the credits went past. And I am getting myself another ticket!