An Yashraj movie without the normal dance and songs and super-heroism. Atleast that is how I felt after seeing the movie and Director Shimit Amin has pulled off a movie which is different from the normal genre of movies that are produced by Yashraj. It neither had an overdose of King Khan nor it had the emotional package that is part and parcel of any Yashraj productions. I felt Rs.180 was well spent and didn’t go down the drain as it had happened with Dhoom-2.
The movie is about how a coach, an ex-player who was ridiculed for missing a penalty, takes the Indian women’s hockey team to World Championship glory. It is a glorified version of Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar with a dosage of patriotism. An underdog beating the world champion. But, it isn’t a Lagaan or a Iqbal for hockey. The movie is very similar to “Remember the Titans” on the aspect of uniting a set of players from diverse backgrounds to fight for a cause which will change their lives forever. (The movie is based on the story of Mr. Ranjan Negi. Check here.)
The movie begins with King Khan missing a penalty in the finals of the world championship against Pakistan and he is branded a traitor and thrown into exile by the media. A classic case of trial by media and we aren’t far from what is shown in the movie in our real lives too. Anyway, the first scene had the regular dosage of close-ups and zoom sequences of the different parts of King Khan’s body, but thankfully the super-heroism ended in the first scene itself. Kabir Khan (Shahrukh) is ridiculed and branded traitor by his neighbours and is forced to leave the locality. This is the scene where the movie moves from having a King Khan to having Kabir Khan. It moves from Shahrukh the superstar to Shahrukh the actor. No more close-ups, no more stuttering…. After Swades, Shahrukh the actor makes an reappearance in this movie. And thankfully this movie is doing much better than Swades.
The movie belongs to the 16 girls from different parts of India from this point onwards. How Kabir Khan gets the girls who are from diverse backgrounds and places to play as a team constitutes the remaining 2 hours of the movie. The 16 girls who join the camp show the typical characteristics which you will see of any female from those places in Bollywood movies. The story evolves from the introduction of the girls to looking at how they defy certain cultural traits and some traditional practices to pursue their dream of playing hockey. It also shows how some of them have to go against the norm of their families to pursue their passion of wearing the Indian jersey. A couple of interesting pieces involve the introduction of Komal Chautala (Chitrashi Rawat) and Balbir Kaur (Tanya Abrol). Everyone seems to have done justice to their roles and I wonder whether they are actually hockey players or whether they underwent training before shooting for the movie. All the actors seem to be handpicked for their roles.
The movie is written by Jaideep Sahni and Shimit Amin and they manage to keep the viewer interested even though the end is well known. This just goes to show that having a good screenplay matters more than concentrating on make-ups and shooting in foreign locations.
The biggest plus for this story is the lack of song and dance sequences. I am pretty sure Shahrukh missed chasing a lady around trees, but the lack of them in the movie made the movie interesting. Absolutely no time is wasted with any dance sequences, except for the girls dancing to the tune of the coach during practice drills. Also, the couple of songs seem to be well places in the movie and only help hasten the pace. There is a song on the lines of Lagaan style “Chale Chalo” in this movie, but it doesn’t make that kind of an impression.
A few parts of the movie can still be shortened, but the editor can be forgiven because a superstar is there in the movie. The movie could have ended with India winning the world cup and the team returning, but adding the sequence where Shahrukh returns to his old locality was just adding time to the movie. Maybe that is the cost that Amin had to pay for having King Khan in the movie. And hopefully I won’t need to watch movies to see an Indian team win a world cup.
And a request to Amin (and all other directors): If you ever want to have a commentator in the movie, provide them some decent lines to speak. The commentator is the worst part of all the games played in the championship. One line goes like this
“The next game which is the quarterfinal is the most important for India as it will go into the semifinal, if it wins the game”. What an insight!!!!! This was the most comical moment in the entire movie and I and Ajay clapped almost instantaneously. I am pretty sure others in the theatre wondered what the two jokers were clapping for.
More info about the actors.
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