The <I>Chak De</I> effect on Indian hockey

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> With Chak De India Shah Rukh Khan who we see more at cricket matches had become an unofficial brand ambassador for hockey.

Updated: March 13, 2008 17:55 IST
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In recent memory never had a hockey team in India cornered all the attention and never had a hockey coach been such a star.

With Chak De India Shah Rukh Khan, who we see more at cricket matches, had become an unofficial brand ambassador for hockey.

But beyond the hype and hoopla there was a calculated business truth. Two weeks after Chak De India's release it had become clear that it had scored a goal at the box office and become a phenomenon.

This less than conventional tale with no romance and no high-billed heroines, instead an intimate and inspiring story of patriotism and team-spirit has won the heart of the nation.

The story is based loosely on the career of former Indian goalkeeper Mir Ranjan Negi who fell from grace after conceding seven goals against Pakistan in the 1982 Asian Games final.

In the film the protagonist returns to the game with a vengeance by coaching the women's team to a great international victory.

"I should say that I'm really inspired. People should make this kind of movies, which inspire not only the players, but also encourage youngsters to take up the game. It has, you know. When you're playing for the country, when you're wearing the Indian jersey, it's an altogether different feeling. And especially when you're playing in front of your home crowd," said Sunil Chhetri, Member, JCT, Indian Footballer.

Reviving hockey

The film was credited with reviving hockey, bringing it back into limelight, if even for a while, and giving the game a memorable celluloid chant.

"The intricate meaning of the word is Chak De Phatte, Nap De Killi. Killi is a small lever that you pull. And when you pull it, the water starts gushing into the fields through a motor. Now that Killi is always invariably hidden under a well. And that well is covered by wooden planks. So you lift the phatta, i.e. Chak De Phatta, and then you pull the killi. And then the water starts flowing, gushing into the fields. So it's got everything to do with positivity," said Navjot Singh Sidhu, former Indian cricket player.

And Komal, Preeti, Bindiya, Balbir and Sui Mui became household names.

"Ya, first of all hockey as a sport doesn't get much money allotted to it by major corporations, because it's not the kind of sport that gets much attention. Plus, again because it was a women's film and was a genre in a film that really hadn't been done before," said Shimit Amin, Director, Chak De India.

Yes, Chak De India was just a movie and there is a huge difference between reel life and real life.

But soon as the Indian hockey team lifted the men's Asia Cup hockey title with a huge 7-2 win over South Korea in Chennai, many said the film had been a motivating factor for our players.

Of course, very quickly the Chak De chant had been usurped by cricket at the T20 world Cup win, claiming the universal spirit of any game.

Nothing perhaps could sum up the marriage of sportsmanship in reel and real life better than this.

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