Chak De India (2007) by Shimit Amin

A stand out sports film in Indian Cinema that managed to set a bar on how to treat female characters, write patriotic subject matter without being blindly nationalistic, and be inspiring without being preachy. This is probably one of Shah Rukh Khan’s best performances especially because he works to compliment the performance of his co-stars and in doing so fills the role perfectly.

The film also benefits from having a diverse representation of femininity. The women in the film are all strong, and interesting, in their own way and they come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and cultural backgrounds. Chak De India is one of few films about being Indian that any Indian can and should feel proud about.

As if all this was not impressive enough, the film manages to present unique antagonists in the form of the corrupt, bureaucratic sports authorities as well the team’s internal conflicts. Often with sports films, the enemy team becomes the antagonists. This makes sense on a plot level but often reduces the complexity to two dimensions, i.e Britain vs. India, or India vs. Pakistan. Chak de India focuses on grander themes such as, how we often stand in the way of ourselves or the need to put the team before the self. These feel like more ambitious ideals to aspire too than, we good, they bad, and thus deliver a greater impact when achieved. I would highly recommend this film to anyone and everyone, it even works on rewatches.

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