Undoubtedly, Indian sports and especially Indian tennis is maybe the biggest (sports?) love of my life. This even beats my love to the HungarianFloorball National Team. Thus, it is not too surprising that the “Songs Of My Life” is frequently featuring songs which are related to that passion. This song is maybe the most inspiring song I ever listened to in sports. It is called Chak De! India in Hindi – which simply means “Come On, India”. The original artitsts are Sukhwinder Singh, Salim–Sulaiman and Marianne D’Cruz. It is part of the soundtrack of the movie with the same title, Chak De! India.
Chak De! India – The Story Of The Song
The story of the song is of course in fact the story of the movie. The main actor is Shah Rukh Khan, who is playing Kabir Khan, the (fictive) captain of the Indian Men’s Field Hockey team. He fails to convert a penalty stroke in the final minutes in a World Cup match against the arch rival Pakistan. An unfortunate photograph forces him to leave the city and his career as a player is finished.
Seven years later, Kabir Khan is assigned as the head coach of the Indian’s Women Team. He is finding himself in front of 16 girls, each somehow the best one in her individual Indian state. They are absolutely biased, majorly based on their social status, their race and the region they are coming from. Khan feels to give up after a couple of days – but at this farewell lunch, the girls starting to act as a team for the very first time. This finally makes the team travel to Australia for the Hockey World Cup. They get defeated in their first match against the host 0-7 due to bad discipline, but then Khan turns the page and step by step they get better. Last, but not least, they beat Australia in the final and receive massive attention when they come back to India.
The movie is a typical “underdogs” topic, which is a quite popular plot bot just in India. Critics regarded it as one of the best acting performances in Shah Rukh Khan in his career. He won six awards for his acting performance in that movie only. The list of awards for this movie is that long that I rather refer to the corresponding Wikipedia page. The movie is also available in German, but I would highly recommend to watch it in Hindi (if you understand the language) or English.
Massive Casting – Massive Impact
Even thought the effort to make the film was massive, it finally became a “blockbuster” and massively exceeded the investment in return. One of the most interesting facts is that it was extremely difficult to form the cast of sixteen girls which are able to act and to play field hockey at least in a way that it looks realistic. Some of the girls are in fact hockey players, which needed to have acting training. The preparation that fictive Indian national team only took four months without a second of the movie being recorded. The recording of the failed penalty shot, the opening scene of the movie, took 20 hours until it finally has been a realistic one.
Nothing illustrates the importance of this song for Indian culture like the live video below, taking from a Bollywood music festival, 9XM On Stage (as a tribute for the Indian armed forces). At the time when the audience are recognizing the song, they stand up – like it is their national anthem:
Chak De! India – My Story Of The Song
Indeed, I ran into this song for the first time, when I supported my beloved Indian Davis Cup team in Delhi in 2015 against the Czech Republic. Thus, this song reminds me a lot of Indian tennis and especially of Leander Paes – as it has been the last time I saw him competing the Davis Cup. I will not bother you too much with tennis in this posting, though.
The movie – and thus: the song – are so inspiring to me. First of all, it is of course a movie about diversity, about equality. It’s a movie against discrimination. It’s a movie how I want to live together. It is also a movie which makes me smile – because it simply acts wih stereotypes I explored as well. Working with Indian people and being friend with them since over twenty years, I have to say that there are quite some kinds of behavior which are “typically Indian” to me. Thus, the movie is excellent. Additionally, listening to Chak De! India is very encouraging to me. If you work hard and work together, you can reach your goals. I feel that is a message which is more important than ever in these pandemic times.
Some thoughts about Indian Sports…
Of course, it is finally a movie about Indian sports and Indian field hockey especially. Field Hockey is the most successful Indian sports of all times. Eight out of nine Olympic Gold Medals have been won by the Indian Men national team. With that performance, they are by far the world leader in that statistic (the second best country, Germany, has four golden medals) You have to state, though, that the last golden medal has been won in 1980. India qualified in any Olympic Field Hockey tournament apart from 2008. Since women field hockey became Olympic, the Indian ladies just made it twice so far. They will compete in Tokyo 2021, though. The Indian Women’s team never won a medal and they have been significantly less supported by the federation. That’s one of the true side stories of Chak De! India.
This weekend, the Indian Women National Team in tennis will compete in the Billie Jean Cup, formerly Fed Cup. Sania Mirza, Ankita Raina, Rutuja Bhosale, Zeel Desai and Karman Kaur Thandi will write history for country, when they play against Latvia. They are the first Indian women tennis team to play on world-group level. Due to the Covid-19 limitations (and as I missed that press coverage might lead to some quarantine exempts), I can unfortunately not support the team lead by Vishal Uppal in Jurmala, Latvia. Especially Sania Mirza’s great career boosted the attention in Women’s Tennis in her come country. It is hard to argue against that these ladies are the underdogs abroad, but with this posting, I am shouting out a Chak De! India to the Baltics. If you act as team, if you believe in your strengths, you can reach your goals.
Chak De! India – Spotify and Lyrics
Here is the song on Spotify:
A nice view of the Hindi lyrics (in Latin letters) and the corresponding English translation can be found here.
Songs Of My Life Playlist
I created a playlist with all the Songs Of My Life songs so far. It will be updated with very new episode:
Title picture / first picture on top: movie marketing material.