I liked the movie - Chak De India (2007) very much which was made by Yash Raj Films and directed by Shimit Ameen while casting Shah Rukh Khan and many girls in principal roles. I watched it in theatre (PVR Priya at Vasant Vihar, Delhi) on 24th August 2007 and within moments of the start of the movie, I found myself lost in the narrative. I got inspired as well as thrilled as the movie proceeded. However despite liking the movie very much, I got a sense of deja vu at certain places in the movie. Certain things, characters and relationships sounded familiar to me. Why ? I asked my brain. And within no time, my brain responded with the answer. I was missing a very old movie, Hip Hip Hurray (1984) whose story and treatment consist of things in common with Chak De India. It was the debut movie of the now well-known film-director, Prakash Jha.
Hip Hip Hurray is a joyful expression which expresses the joy of victory. Just like Chak De India, the story of Hip Hip Hurray also revolves around a coach who instills self-confidence in the youngsters he coaches and teaches them how to develop the attitude of a winner. And his sincere efforts and hard work with them show their worth in the end. This role has been played by Raj Kiran, one of the most underrated actors of Hindi cinema. He is shown as a youth who accepts the temporary assignment of a sports teacher in a college. The game of football is played by the students but they are so demoralized that they are never able to win against the rival college in a game. The hero has to face the opposition of the college bully (a role superbly played by Nikhil Bhagat) and also the handle the college dynamics in which his ally is a like-minded lady-teacher, Deepti Naval. Through him, the demoralized boys with a defeated mindset, learn to win first in their minds and then on the field and finally defeat the experienced and stronger rival team in the climax with the opposing college bully playing a pivotal role in the victory.
Though Chak De India has an identity of its own, there are several sequences and characters in that that bear a clear resemblance to those in Hip Hip Hurray. Unlike Chak De India, Hip Hip Hurray was a low-budget movie but very very impressive. Start to finish, it's a treat to watch and an inspiration to feel within. Prakash Jha showed his class in his debut directorial venture itself. The simple milieu of the college campus, the simple middle class characters and the mindset of the teenager students, everything is utterly realistic and heart-winning. It's the honesty of storytelling in Hip Hip Hurray which makes it a winner. It was in the race for winning the national award for the best movie as well as the Indian entry for the Oscars. Though none of that happened for it, yet it got a lot of critical acclaim. Besides, the movie is thoroughly interesting (like all the Prakash Jha movies).
Like Chak De India, in Hip Hip Hurray too, there is no romance and the complete focus is on the on-field and off-field activities of the coach (teacher) and the trainees (students). However in the ending scene when the parting time has come for the teacher (Raj Kiran), he proposes to the like-minded lady-teacher (Deepti Naval) who has always stood by him, saying - 'Mujhse Shaadi Karogi (will you marry me) ?' And she replies - 'Sochoongi (I'll think about it)'. Well, it can be considered as the most underrated romantic talk of Hindi cinema (in my opinion).
Performances are praiseworthy. Raj Kiran was a great actor who never got his due from Bollywood. He was a natural performer and he has done complete justice to the role of the sports teacher. Deepti Naval is one of the greatest actresses of Indian cinema who could never act bad. Among others, Shafi Inamdaar as the coach of the rival team is good in his negative role and the complete supporting cast is also perfect on the screen. However, as said earlier, the show-stealer is Nikhil Bhagat who has played the role of the college bully, Raghu with a high degree of excellence. He remains in mind of the spectator long after the movie is over.
Technically, the movie is perfect. Music by Vanraj Bhatia alongwith the lyrics penned by none other than Gulzaar is also admirable. Songs like Har Subah Har Mod Par, Jab Kabhi Mud Ke Dekhta Hoon, Maidaan Hai Saari Zindagi and the title track may not have been chartbusters but they are pretty impressive and deserve to be listened to with attention.
Summing up, Hip Hip Hurray is an excellent movie which seems to have been long forgotten by all and sundry. I had watched it on Doordarshan long back and I feel, not only me but all the sports-lovers of India should watch this classic sports movie. Those who have seen and liked Chak De India should also watch it and check for similarities between the two.
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