Thursday, January 03, 2008

Movie Review: Chak De ! India

Why has it taken mainstream Bollywood so long to deliver a movie with no songs and no romance (aka running around in foreign locations singing songs) ?

Bollywood seems to have found the magic formula of making blockbusters :
- one superstar
- an underdog team which seems to have no hopes of winning
- a game which most of India understands and has historical associations
- a rivalry with another (Caucasian) country perceived as a superior team

We saw this in Lagaan which starred Amir Khan leading a ragtag team to victory over an English cricket team, and now in Chak De, Shahrukh Khan, as Kabir Khan, plays hockey and coaches the women's hockey team for the world championship games.

Chake De ! India has very engaging theme music throughout the movie, most of the actors are new faces, which helps in avoiding distractions and the story is tightly controlled for most of the movie. There are the usual group dynamics when a team comes together - jealousies, friendships and conflicts, but the story makes light of the resolution of the conflicts - bench the players until they say "Sorry" and promise to play as a team.

The ending is not unexpected - India wins a cliffhanger against Australia and redeems the coach who had been accused of throwing the world cup final against Pakistan seven years earlier. The finale' reminded me of many Clint Eastwood movies where the protagonist seemed to have compromised his values many years ago and is now trying to redeem himself.

Overall, it was a very engrossing movie, although the character development was abrupt - a first step for Bollywood movies to move out of it's comfort zone.

Rating: 3.5 stars

5 star - A Classic
4 star - Must Watch
3 star - Recommend it
2 star - Time Pass
1 star - Just Skip it

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