Shah Rukh Khan is one of the most charming personalities in the glamour world, no two questions about it! His on-screen persona, both during the beginning of his career and after he was rechristened as the King Khan, could swoon a million hearts and possibly still can. But there came a time when we saw Khan doing absolutely nothing but portraying an extended version of his mesmerizing self. All his films, except for Swades and Paheli, showcased a star that had done everything even before we knew an actor called Shah Rukh Khan existed.
Then came 2007 and his first release of the year, Chak De! India, a sports drama about the rise and rise and the ultimate triumph of India’s Women’s Hockey Team, directed by Shimit Amin. SRK was playing the role of their coach called Kabir Khan. When we first see him, he has just missed a penalty and lost the match to Pakistan. In the second scene, he’s heartbroken for being called a traitor and shamed not only by his society but the entire nation for possibly fixing the match. Khan’s breakdown at that moment wasn’t as hammy as in Kal Ho Naa Ho or Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham but gave us a glimpse of a robust performer for the first time since 2004’s Swades. And of course, we see a more determined and dynamic Kabir Khan seven years later.
But Chak De! India was as much about those 11 girls as much about Kabir. At first, we can visibly assume there’s a sense of disunity and self-conceit within the players as each tends to suffer from superiority complex. Two of them, in fact, continue to be at loggerheads till the end. But as it’s compulsory for any film of such nature, they all realize nation comes first! 12 extraordinary performances, breathtaking montages of the team’s training, meticulous direction by Shimit Amin and a brave film backed by YRF, known usually for candy-floss and glossy romantic melodramas, Chak De! India still feels fresh and fragrant. And SRK’s best till date!
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