The recent debate over SRK and hockey made us revisit ‘Chak De! India’


There was an uproar on social media recently because Shah Rukh Khan, with his usual nerve, tweeted his best wishes to the Indian women’s hockey team for the Olympics. For those who couldn’t see the awesome sarcasm in his post, it felt like a call for attention. For those of us who have seen the witty and humorous side of SRK for decades, this was just a good-humored joke. But that called into question many things, including Shah Rukh’s contribution to women’s hockey through his portrayal of Kabir Khan in Chak De! India.

Image credit: Yash Raj Films

It made us want to revisit Chak De!, and see how his legacy as a film is taking shape today. As we all know, it was a groundbreaking film when it came out, mainly because no mainstream actor had worked in a film that addressed the struggles of sportswomen in India. Not only that, but this movie has reminded many of us to watch and be patrons of sports other than cricket. It was a stimulating story in many ways.

But what about 14 years later? Let’s see.

The main problem with movies like ‘Chak De!’ and ‘Dangal’ is that he shows a man as the pioneer

Image credit: Yash Raj Films

Women’s empowerment should not be attributed to men who do decent things. The character of Shah Rukh in this film, or the character of Aamir Khan in Dangal, are portrayed as the heroes, so the whole issue of women’s empowerment is more about men than women. This is something that most movies get wrong when they try to put a man at the center of stories related to women’s liberation.

As with most older movies, there are some problematic elements that don’t age well.

Chak De! was by no means a perfect movie. Even those who are supposed to fight for the emancipation of women are filled with internalized misogyny and say problematic things. Komal Chautala’s first line is, “Wash yourself hockey aise ghumate hain jaise laundiyan belan ghumati hain. ”

Kabir Khan’s reaction to a man trying to hit his team with a cricket bat is a transphobic statement: “Peeche se nahi, mardon ki tarah aage se lado. Woh kya hai, humari hockey mein chhake nahi hote.

Video Credit: YRF via YouTube

These things keep the movie from being perfect. But there are also a lot of things the movie got right, trying to eclipse the regressive pieces.

The film’s portrayal of Islamophobia and regionalism is relevant

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The precarious position of Indian Muslims in today’s society is not unknown to anyone. This film showed how a Muslim sports hero was humiliated and blamed after a professional failure. He was asked to “go to Pakistan” just because he had shaken hands with a member of the Pakistani hockey team after losing. Would his sportsmanship have been called into question if his name was not Khan? Even today, the patriotism and loyalty of Indian Muslims is constantly questioned, and the Pakistani tirade begins with the drop of a hat.

Not only that, but the film makes big points about divisive cultural chauvinism and talks about the importance of unity while playing for the national team. Obviously, this film was far-sighted about the position of our company.

This film denounced racism against the people of the Northeast long before it became a more common topic of discussion

Image credit: Yash Raj Films

Islamophobia is not the only social evil Chak De! India Underline. There is an iconic scene in the film where two girls from Manipur and Mizoram come to register, and two creeps shout at them in Hindi, also using racial slurs. If that was not enough, the official who registered them told them: “Mehman ho humari. Welcome! “To which they correctly answer:”Ab apne desh mein mehmaan banker khush rahenge? “

Even today, such a divisive nature is common in India. In fact, Ankita Konwar also called him recently, tweeting, “If you are from North East India, you can become Indian ONLY when you win a medal for the country. Otherwise, we are known as “chinky” “Chinese” “Nepali” or a new addition “corona”. India is not only infested with caste, but also with racism. Speaking from my experience. #Hypocrites.”

Obviously, the manufacturers of Chak De! knew what to shout and criticize. Unfortunately, we don’t seem to have come a long way as a company in these 14 years.

“Chak De! »Shows how the gender perception of women’s roles interferes with their success

Image credit: Yash Raj Films

In the film, the Captain, played by Vidya Malvade, is supposed to be a “simple” housewife, and the character of Sagarika Ghatge is supposed to live in the shadow of her cricketer boyfriend. No one considers them to be athletes except their trainer. Even today, athletic women are not seen as sportswomen, but as wives, mothers, style icons, or as the sum of archaic stereotypes attributed to women. The fact that the film chose to emphasize this is actually proof that audiences need to be more aware of their own biases, a fact that remains true to this day.

How the movie shows state sports neglect hits home

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This film accurately shows how most female sports figures fail, with politicians congratulating them on Twitter once they win, but continuing their negligence and inaction.

The rage that one feels against the character of the official who says: “Hindustani female hockey na kuch kar payi hai, na kuch kar payegi. Mujhe samajh mein nahi aata ki aap itna seriously kyun lete hain? Ye lota-belan chalane wali Bharatiya nariyan hain. Kahan you cheeky-wicker pehen ke daudti phirengi? ”This is what makes you outraged on behalf of the thousands, if not millions of women in sport who still face such sexism to this day.

After Chak De!, movies like Dangal and Marie-Kom shed some light on these issues as well, but it’s this film that is the first of its kind to even touch on these topics. Today, the subject of women in sport is the subject of heated debate and it should not be forgotten that this film had the courage to put it forward first, even going so far as to denounce bureaucratic negligence. sportswomen.

Even today, the film encourages you to support and encourage sportswomen

Image credit: Yash Raj Films

The passion and intensity with which the character of SRK vouches for his team, makes you want to put down roots for the real people who would be in their place. This movie gives a hypothetical name and a face to the kind of people who may be playing for the Indian hockey team right now. The sense of pride and solidarity that one feels while watching this film is unprecedented. So while I wish we had progressed enough as a society to Chak De! India to no longer be relevant, this continues to be a movie with so much impact that it will make you cry no matter how many times you see it again.

Main image credit: Yash Raj Films


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