Chak De!

This movie is doing the rounds, a lot of them(rounds) in fact, and raking in the moolah. Went to watch it, did not like it as much as everyone thought everyone else would (or should). After being told this and that (mostly derogatory this’ and thats) about my taste and outlook, well, no qualms or issues. But this was really it, the last straw. Obviously, raving and ranting about it in an email to the editor won’t do much good, so thought i’ll do the same here.

There are probably things one can appreciate in this movie, though none of them appeared to my cinematically retarded mind. But one thing you cannot say is that the movie is original. Anyone who watches Hollywood will have seen scores of such films with baseball or basketball or football (American ishtyle), in all kinds of movies: drama, comedy, tragedy, horror, any combination of the above. Some of the passages in that horrendous piece of feminist (If one can call it that) rhetoric are worth quoting:

None of these is a Hindi Film cliche. They are all
individuals ….

Excellent. The girl who tries to seduce the coach to get her a prominent position in the team, one who tries to prove a point to her boyfriend by scoring a copious amount of goals against the best defences in the world (which are completely bamboozled by her wizardry with the stick, leaving her usually in a one on one situation with the goalie), a girl who gives up her self prestige for a higher cause, none of these are cliches, because they are not portrayed by cliched men, but women! And wonder of wonders, they are all individuals! And all the time I was thinking they were parts of some giant amoeba out to take over the world! The only characters that are developed (however little) in the movie are that of SRK, Chandigarh based hot-babe, the goalie. Naik, to some extent maybe, but the rest are there just to fill up the team. How one can call ‘all of these’ as ‘individuals’ is left to the reader’s imagination to fill up. Just to take the gender point of view further, why a man lead a women’s team ? Are there no competent women to coach, even in the fantasy world of Bollywood ?

As to the question if a Hindi film can alter deep rooted prejudices, the answer lies …. applause richocheting through cinema halls ….. Beating the daylights out of men who whistle.

Right. Hooliganism, if practiced by women is called empowerment. God knows where the author learnt about freedom or empowerment, it definitely was not from Gandhi. I may not know the problems a Delhi woman faces, but it can be debated as to whether beating up eve-teasers is going to solve anything. And people applauding loudly is a sign of alteration of deep rooted prejudices. People applauded with greater gusto during the screening of Rang De Basanti, but (un?)fortunately, our youth did not take the matter of governance into their own hands. Wonder why.

And the cliche smashing scenes roll on: woman risks marriage …. girl … won’t stop playing hockey … cricketer boyfriend .. player offers herself coach .. realizes … without self respect will only go so far and no further…

Won’t even try to comment about this. The author has seen quite a lot of movies for somone who realizes that all movies are mere cliched, male chauvinist portrayals.

The women sweat not in kitchens ….like … Barjatya films .. dance bars and steam baths to appease voyeurs.. but on hockey field. They are asexual creatures though not dispassionate. They play unselfconsciously ….

Asexual ? biologically, this means these ladies are quite like bacterium. Another instance of social sciences borrowing metaphors from the natural ones, thus making them devoid of meaning and ambiguous. If it means that they do not look smouldering sexually on the screen, I don’t see why this is such a great deal. The author’s gripe about sexuality expressed on the screen ‘from a male view’ must elaborate on what a ‘male view’ is and what expression of sexuality from a ‘female view’ is. Maybe then the poor directors will stop making such raunchy flicks and try to appeal to a larger demographic. About the unselfconsciousness part, well, even item numbers portray the actresses as quite unselfconscious. The author seems more conscious about their unselfconsciousness than the players themselves. Ask a sportswoman in whatever sport, she would not consider herself to be an ‘asexual being’ playing ‘unselfconsciously’. She is just playing, for the love of playing. The psychological embellishments add no substance to the argument.

And so on and so forth … The director seems to be a decent man trying to make a honest buck by showing people what they want to see, and reading feminist victories in cinema after 60 years of oppression by the ‘male view’ seems to be going too far.


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