Chak De! India

 
Indian underdog sports film will make American girls cheer.
  • Review Date: July 22, 2012
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2007
  • Running Time: 140 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

There's plenty here about overcoming racism and sexism. There's also a poke at the media spin and what impact it can have, here turning a heroic sports figure into a traitor in his country's eyes. The coach says, "it's not strength but spirit that makes a team." Unfortunately he tries to unify and bring out the spirit in his team by letting them beat up some sexist boys in a food court.

Positive role models

In trying to mold his team the coach tows a hard line but gets the best out of his players. The girl athletes from states all around India start out divided, calling each other racist names like "Junglees" for the girls from the jungle and "Chow Mein" for girls with more Chinese features. They come along way as a team, especially considering the sexism they're up against. Even the head of the field hockey club barely wants to give them a chance, saying Indian women are better suited to cook and clean.

Violence

The girl athletes beat up sexist boys at a food court -- the soundtrack-heavy fight is meant to be comical but boys are ganged up on and hit with sticks and other objects. Girls get some bloody injuries in a few matches and one girl is instructed to rough up an aggressive team with lots of tripping and running them down. The coach raises his hand to one of his players like he's ready to strike her, then doesn't. Objects are burned in protest after a lost game.

Sex

Sexist banter and cat-calls, especially toward the Indian women who look more Chinese; they're asked, "How much for those melons?" One girl athlete makes a clumsy seduction attempt toward her coach that goes nowhere. One player is seen in bed with her boyfriend but they mostly talk onscreen.

Language

Subtitles reveal a few bad words like, "s--t," "bloody hell," bulls--t," "dammit," "damn," and "son of a." Sexist banter and cat-calls. Please some ethnic insults.

Consumerism

A big scene takes place at McDonald's. As the girls progress in the tournament they get a big Puma sponsorship; a ton of Puma boxes arrive and the girls, in awe, dig in.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Girls are offered drinks at a reception.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Chak De! India is a feel-good underdog sports movie featuring girl athletes from India overcoming sexism and some racism to compete and excel. There's a little fighting (the girls get the upper hand), some sexual innuendo, and big plugs for McDonald's and Puma. A sprinkling of strong language doesn't go beyond the "s--t" in subtitles. You don't need to know much about field hockey to enjoy this movie, but you do need to be a fast enough reader to keep up with the subtitles.

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What's the story?

Seven years after field hockey star Kabir Kahn (Bollywood heartthrob staple Shah Rukh Khan) is deemed a traitor for his big loss against Pakistan he's given another chance to show his true colors. He's asked to coach the India women's national field hockey team. He has three months to mold players from states all around India into a team ready for the world cup in Australia -- and he's got his work cut out for him. The girls are divided by prejudice and haughtiness and lack any kind of camaraderie. And after Kahn works hard to bring the girls together, the team's funding is cut off. The sexist head of the field hockey club is giving the money to the men's team instead. In a last-ditch effort to get the girls to Australia, Coach Kahn has them play against the men's team to decide their fate.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

It can be hard to get kids to sit through a more typical Bollywood movie. They're very long, usually subtitled, lean toward the melodramatic, and are full of song and dance numbers in a musical style American kids don't hear on the radio. CHAK DE! INDIA is subtitled and a little long, yes, but there are no dance numbers -- the limited soundtrack is more peppy and modern -- and most of the drama takes place on the field.

Girls especially will dig into this underdog tale and root for the players facing sexism, family expectations, and other obstacles. It'll remind you of A League of Their Own in many ways. Don't worry if you don't know much about field hockey. It's pretty easy to follow (and the training montages are lengthy enough you can probably put together your own neighborhood team by film's end). Despite the cultural divide, guaranteed you'll be cheering "Chak de India!" (meaning "go for it, India") through the exciting conclusion.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about their favorite underdog sports movies and how Chak De! India compares.

  • What do these Indian girls overcome that other athletes don't have to?

  • In the beginning of the movie how does the media turn Coach Kabir Kahn from someone who lost a game for his country into someone who turned traitor? Do we experience media spin to the same extent in the U.S.?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 10, 2007
DVD release date:September 25, 2007
Cast:Shah Rukh Khan, Tanya Abrol, Vidya Malvade
Director:Shimit Amin
Studio:Yash Raj Films
Genre:Drama
Topics:Sports and martial arts, Great girl role models, Misfits and underdogs
Run time:140 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

This review of Chak De! India was written by

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Quality

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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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