Chak de! India (2007) - News Poster


Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal

Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal
CHENNAI, India -- While Shah Rukh Khan starrer Chak De India, which opened in August, dealt with the India's national but virtually dead sport, hockey, model-turned-actor John Abraham's just-released Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal is all about football, still a mad passion in some Indian States such as Bengal and Kerala. This work may appeal to football fans, but could find it difficult to attract others.

Helmer Vivek Agnihotri sets his work in England, where some sportsmen from the Indian subcontinent are trying to save their Southall United Football Club from ruin. It has no spectators, no stars, no coach, no sponsors and not even an owner. Threatened by the city council with eviction, the club and its team captain, Shaan Ali Khan (Arshad Warsi), rope in former football celebrity Tony Singh (Boman Irani) as a coach.

But Singh needs a star hitter like Sunny Bhasin (John Abraham) if the club is to win the combined county league matches and save its ground from real estate sharks, led by the city council and a sports commentator, Johny Bakshi (Dalip Tahil). Sunny, a second-generation Indian, is a thorough professional who plays for money and finds it hard to share the club's sense of Asian patriotism. His love for Shaan's sister, Rumana (Bipasha Basu), does not make things any easier.

The movie is wonderfully shot and edited to make the football matches gripping. The splendidly cast Abraham, Warsi, Irani and even Tahil essay their parts with ease and conviction. But Basu, as the team's physiotherapist, disappoints, largely because a flawed script: Can one imagine a medical practitioner screaming hysterically and doing precious little when one is hurt on the field?

For that matter, the script is full of cliched. Must we continue to make Sikhs the butt of our jokes? Must Indian-British relationship still hang by the thread of such inane terms like "paki"? Would any sports commentator be stupid enough to expose his designs on television as Bakshi's Tahil does? This is where Chak De India scores with its neat script and no-nonsense approach with none of the romance, dances and usual Bollywood numbers of Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal.


UTV Motion Pictures


Director: Vivek Agnihotri

Writer: Rohit Malhotra

Producer: Ronnie Screwvala

Director of photography: Attar Singh Saini

Music: Pritam Chakraborty

Co-producers: Zarina Mehta, Deven Khote

Editor: Hemal Kothari


Sunny Bhasin: John Abraham

Rumana: Bipasha Basu

Shaan Ali Khan: Arshad Warsi

Tony Singh: Boman Irani

Johny Bakshi: Dalip Tahil

Running time -- 165 minutes

No MPAA rating

Chak De! India

Chak De! India
Chak De! India is new wave Bollywood at its best, a Hindi-language film from a Mumbai studio that shows the influence of American and foreign films.

It has none of what film critic Peter Rainer has called the Busby Beserkley dance numbers, and there isn't any boy-girl romance. Rather, India is a sports movie -- something of a cross between Bend It Like Beckham and A League of Their Own -- about a disgraced coach (Bollywood superstar Shahrukh Khan) who leads an Indian girls' field hockey team toward a World Cup.

Former editor Shimit Amin, making his second film as a director, spent years working on American indie films. This shows in his determination to blend a character-driven story with Bollywood emotions.

The opening-night film of the recently concluded Indian Splendor film festival in Los Angeles, India already has opened in India and North America. Unfortunately, the film has been steered into the usual Indian-American cinemas here rather than braving a few mainstream theaters where it can reach out to a crossover audience. The film could certainly engage non-Indian viewers if its marketing played to the feminist sports angles; it certainly has lots to say about racism and misogyny in Indian society.

In the final moments of an India-Pakistan hockey game, Kabir Khan), the Indian team captain, elects to take a penalty shot. When the ball barely skips over the top of the net, resulting in India's loss, rumors immediately spread that Kabir, a Muslim, was "playing for Pakistan." Despite absolutely no evidence, the media and fans take up that chant, and soon he and his mother must abandon the family house.

Seven years later, Kabir re-emerges to ask for a job as coach of an Indian girls' hockey team. No other coach will touch the assignment. The girls recruited are top players from their individual states, but they come with different languages, ethnicities and prejudices, making it nearly impossible to mold them into an Indian team.

A broad-shouldered, rough-talking Punjabi girl can barely tolerate a tiny village tomboy who can dribble like crazy. Her Punjabi language is understood by the Hindi speakers but not by the teammate who speaks Telugu. The two girls from Mizoram and Manipur in the northeast, near Tibet, suffer endless slights because of their Asian looks.

A girl engaged to an egotistical cricket player is determined to score all the goals to prove she is a sports hero, too. Consequently, she never passes the ball to the other forward. A devious though seasoned Maharashtran girl openly rebels against the coach. First she tries to get him fired, then to seduce him.

All of these dramas take place over grueling practice sessions and hard-fought matches on the road to the World Cup in Australia. The screenplay by Jaideep Sahni carefully delineates the various rivalries and animosities, sparing the poor coach none of the agony of putting out the constant brush fires among battling teammates.

This film is from a new studio established by Yash Chopra, a leading figure in Bollywood production for 40 years, so technical credits are first rate with excellent cinematography, quicksilver editing, musical montages of practice and a fine use of locations. India is definitely Bollywood, ashamed of neither sentimentality nor predictability. Yet its sharp-eyed view of Indian society makes for a world of difference from old-style, sugar-coated Bollywood films.


Yash Raj Films


Director: Shimit Amin

Screenwriter: Jaideep Sahni

Producer: Aditya Chopra

Executive producer: Aashish Singh

Director of photography: Sudeep Chatterjee

Production designer: Sukant Panigrahy

Music: Salim Merchant, Sulaiman Merchant

Costume designers: Mandira Shukia, Shiraz Siddique, Aki Narula

Editor: Amitabh Shukia


Kabir Khan: Shahrukh Khan

Vidya Sharma: Vidya Malvade

Koumal: Chitrashi Rawat

Pretti: Segarika Ghatge

Aliya: Anaitha Nair

Bindia: Shilpa Shukla

Babir: Tanya Abrol

Gunjan: Shubhi Mehta

Soi Moi: Nisha Nair

Gul: Arya Menon

Running time -- 152 minutes

No MPAA rating

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