What If…? #1, #2: Chak De India

Warning: If you haven’t seen the movie, you might want to reconsider reading this post. Here be spoilers.

There’s a scene at the end of the first half in Chak De India when the team has finally begun to act as one. It comes soon after they’ve mutinied against their coach and refused to play under him. He resigns and takes them out to a farewell lunch, where they respond to some eve-teasing by ganging up and thrashing whoever looks remotely male and in their age group. By the end of it, they decide that they want Kabir Khan (SRK) as their coach again. This could be either because they’ve realized what he’s been trying to do, or because they’ve vented all their aggro on those guys in the cafe and are ready to play again. No matter: the scene works. Right at the end of the fight, they assemble around Kabir’s table and try to stammer out an apology. After a couple of misfires, Kabir smiles and asks them to assemble at the grounds the next morning at 5 am. All is well.

Now, this is admittedly a minor quibble with what I consider a very good scene, but I’d have liked the scene better if they had left out the stammering apology part. The point has been well and truly made even before Komal Chautala tries unsuccessfully to word the sentiments of the team. To use her own phrase, Ab mare bhains ki poonch phadne se kya phaida?

The match-winning save by Vidya Sharma in the penalty shootout right at the end is another interesting scene. Kabir figures out that the Aussie player isn’t gonna hit to the right or to the left, but straight down the middle. He mentally wills Vidya to look at him, and makes a gesture that could mean either Relax or Stay where you are. She does so and saves the goal, and gives her team the championship.

Now, I admire how the gesture Kabir used was simple and effective. But I’d have liked to see her get it right even without that gesture. A weak point in the movie is Vidya’s characterization as well as the coverage of her goalkeeping skills. There’s a line that’s repeated a few times in the movie: Attack the goalie’s mind, not the goal. Somehow, you don’t get to see her mind enough – had Shimit Amin done that well, then I think he could’ve done away with Kabir’s gesture.

An entirely different way of portraying that goal would’ve been to show not the goal itself, but Kabir’s reaction to it when it happens. After that, maybe later, he could’ve shown the goal in replays. But the point of the movie is Kabir’s redemption, and this is, in some sense, the high point. Showing it all from his point of view would’ve been a very interesting move. I doubt too many people would agree with me on this, but I personally would’ve loved it if he had done that.

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