Article Hindi

Writer Jaideep Sahni went blank over Shah Rukh's iconic speech in Chak De! India

As the iconic film completes 10 years, director Shimit Amin and writer Jaideep Sahni speak with Rajeev Masand on what drove them to make a film on female athletes.

Our Correspondent

Chak De! India (2007) is an iconic sports film, one that some even call the finest so far in the sports genre in Hindi cinema. Chak De! India had taken the country by storm. Shah Rukh Khan had delivered another powerpacked performance.

The film was inspired by the gold medal winning Indian women’s hockey team at the 2002 Commonwealth Games. Kabir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan’s character was based on the Indian team coach Mir Ranjan Negi.

As Chak De! India completes 10 years today (10 August), director Shimit Amin and writer Jaideep Sahni spoke to entertainment television journalist Rajeev Masand where they shared some interesting behind-the-scene tales. The broadcast network posted a clip from the interview.

Fans and readers will be stunned know that writer Sahni had gone blank and had just no clarity of thought in his head before Shah Rukh pulled off the iconic speech prior to the Indian team's final match against Australia.

“For all the scenes, I had many things in my mind, for this scene, I stopped the reading, and told Shah Rukh that I don’t know what to tell you for this. This guy needs to be real, but he also needs to be a star. I had 100 things to say about all the things, but this scene I told Shah Rukh 'it’s all yours'. I need Shah Rukh Khan, but I also also need Kabir Khan, I have no clue how to do it. Shah Rukh merely said don’t worry, I’ll do it,” said Sahni.

Director Shimit Amin and writer Sahni were also not keen on having the word 'India' in the title.

Amin said, “In terms of patriotism of the film, I was a little wary of it. It just feel... queasy. I knew that since Jaideep was writing it, I was in good hands."

“In the sports authority campus outside Bangalore, there is a old wall with an old faded Indian flag. It means the world to them. They don’t think of it in the same way as we do. We would always think that are we guilty of wrapping the film into a flag. Till the last moment we kept fighting, but the thing is I may not think about it in the same way as they do, but this is really how they feel. It seems odd to try and smother their genuine emotion with your new fangled... whatever sensibility," added Sahni.

Both Amin and Sahni were in the USA when Chak De! India released in theatres domestically. The film didn’t get a good response on the opening day, but the positive reviews and word-of-mouth helped the film get numbers from day two onwards.

“Shimit and I were in Los Angeles for the screening. The first day it opened here, I called up Yash ji to ask what happened? He said, 'Son no one came'. Then I was silent, I didn’t know how to take it. Yash ji then said,' I will always be proud that we made the film in his studios. I don't care whether a single person comes out.' The next day, it just went through the ceiling,” quipped Sahni.

The commercial aspect was important, but Sahni was looking to make an impact.

“This whole thing, hit, super hit, blockbuster, it wasn’t on my mind at all. What was in my mind was - have we shown the people a right story? Will people in this country know what female athletes are and what their world is? Will they (female athletes) find a sponsor? Will girls be allowed to play? - Considering that, the film has given to me so much emotionally. Because there was a time when we used to beg journalists to run a ticker on a (women's) team's performance. Now, Indian women’s cricket team (World Cup in England) finished in the second place and everyone is celebrating them. It is very difficult to explain to people 10 years back how it was.” said Sahni.

Watch excerpts of the video interview below.