Friday, August 24, 2007

Hockey will not be cricket, despite Chak De India!

By John Cheeran
I enjoyed Chak De India, the Shah Rukh Khan movie.
Rarely do Indian screens have sport movies and this one is an out and out effort and a good one at that.
The only romance in the screen is the romance with hockey, once a sport that enjoyed wide fan following in north India, but now reduced to a federation’s game.
I have watched and reported quite a few hockey matches at the National Stadium in New Delhi and at the Shivaji Stadium, again in New Delhi. Chak De India takes off from the camp SRK (Kabir Khan) organizes and when camera lingered over the Dhyan Chand’s swarthy statue
for a second I wondered how many would have recalled the all-time hockey great.
The 20-year-old Sagaraika Ghatge, who plays the role of center forward Preeti Sabharwal, provides the vital glue of sex appeal that holds the viewers’ attention while SRK thrashes out the values of team effort and tackles the menace of sub-nationalism in the quest for world championship gold.
By this time everyone would have known that the script was based loosely on former Indian men’s team goalkeeper Mir Ranjan Negi, who suffered the most when Pakistan raped India 8-1 at the National Stadium, during the 1982 Asian Games final. When you rummage through the Indian hockey folklore, you will be reminded that just before that stick rape, Pakistani players entered the turf paying a floral tribute to the spectators.
Blaming cricket is an easy way to promote hockey’s cause. Unfortunately Chak De India does it.
Despite Shah Rukh Khan and his bevy of skirt-toting girls, hockey lacks the appeal that would have forced the nation to swoon over the game and its stars.
But yes, definitely, people would be more familiar with hockey stick thanks to Chak De India than in the past.

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