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Anushka Sharma to play cricketer Jhulan Goswami in Prosit Roy's Chakda 'Xpress

The film is being backed by the artiste's production house Clean Slate Filmz.

Shriram Iyengar

Anushka Sharma will dominate the cricket pitch in Prosit Roy's upcoming sports drama Chakda 'Xpress. Backed by Netflix India and Sharma's banner, Clean Slate Filmz, the feature is inspired by the life of Jhulan Goswami, the former captain of the India national women's cricket team.

The actress — who delivered her first child, Vamika, with cricketer Virat Kohli last January — began shooting for the project back in 2020. It marks her return to the silver screen after the Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Zero (2018).

In an announcement video put out by Netflix India on Thursday, Sharma's pacer and her teammates are seen taking to an empty stadium. After an off-screen commentator observes that female cricketers don't have much of a fan following in India, Sharma's character addresses the viewer directly, confidently asserting in a Bengali accent that her teammates will make their names known to all.

Goswami is one of India's greatest female cricketers and one of the fastest bowlers of all time. Making her debut in 2002, she amassed 240 wickets in One Day International and 44 in Test matches. She also led the Indian cricket team from 2008 to 2011. The title of the film is a reference to Goswami's hometown, Chakdaha in West Bengal. 

Speaking about the film, Sharma said in a statement, "It is a really special film because it is essentially a story of tremendous sacrifice. Chakda 'Xpress is inspired by the life and times of former Indian captain Jhulan Goswami and it will be an eye-opener into the world of women’s cricket (sic). At a time when Jhulan decided to become a cricketer and make her country proud on the global stage, it was very tough for women to even think of playing the sport. This film is a dramatic retelling of several instances that shaped her life and also women’s cricket." 

Goswami said that when you represent India, that’s all that is on your mind. "Tum desh ke liye khel rahe ho, apne liye nahi. Eleven women playing to place Team India’s name in history. It doesn’t matter if they said 'ladkiyan cricket nahi khel sakti'. It doesn’t matter if sometimes a man’s accomplishments are placed above your own. It doesn’t matter if the stadiums are empty. When you pull up onto the pitch to bowl, all you see is the opponent holding the cricket bat and the stumps you need to knock out," the sportswoman said.

Pratiksha Rao, director, films and licensing, Netflix India, said that Goswami's journey, while deeply inspiring, is painfully astounding due to the many odds she encountered and that Chakda Xpress is the story of her achievements in spite of those challenges. "We are deeply honoured and proud to bring this story of an unlikely champion and her contribution to Indian cricket to Netflix, and are thrilled to partner with Clean Slate Filmz and with Anushka Sharma who has won audiences through the many unique roles she's performed with heartfelt emotion and passion," she said.

The film marks Roy's first attempt at the sports film genre and his second collaboration with Clean Slate Filmz after Pari (2018) which also starred Sharma. Roy also helmed the critically acclaimed Amazon Prime Video series Paatal Lok (2020)

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