'Chak De!' not a documentary of my life: Negi (Interview)

New Delhi, Aug 18 Former women's hockey coach Mir Ranjan Negi, who inspired Shah Rukh Khan's role in 'Chak De! India', doesn't want to hog the limelight emanating from the movie's success.

Saturday, August 18, 2007 | 8:32:13 AM IST (+05:30 GMT)
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New Delhi, Aug 18 (IANS) Former women's hockey coach Mir Ranjan Negi, who inspired Shah Rukh Khan's role in 'Chak De! India', doesn't want to hog the limelight emanating from the movie's success.

'I don't want to hog the limelight. This movie is not a documentary of Mir Ranjan Negi's life. It is in fact the story of a team that becomes a winning lot from a bunch of hopeless girls,' Negi told IANS in an interview.

'There is nothing called World Championships in international hockey. It would be stupid to believe that Yash Raj Films would pump in Rs.450 million to make a documentary on me. So it's illogical that it is a documentation of my life,' he said.

In the movie, Shah Rukh plays the role of hockey coach Kabir Khan, who turns a ragtag bunch of girls into a unit that goes on to win the World Championships on the silver screen.

The movie is based on the real life story of Negi, a former Indian goalkeeper who fell from grace after conceding seven goals against Pakistan in the 1982 Asian Games final, after which he was dropped from the side.

He returned to the hockey field, most grudgingly, 16 years later as a goalkeeping coach for the women's team. India won the 1998 Asian Games gold at Bangkok. But the joy was short-lived as the ungrateful federation sacked Negi, along with six players and the chief coach.

The affable Negi returned to train the girls, won the Commonwealth Games gold in 2002, again contributing as a goalkeeping coach.

'I was never a big coach but I was a good management person. I think being a good man manager is what counts now in modern sports,' he said.

The former women's coach believes sports movies like 'Chak De! India' would usher in a sports movement in the country.

'It is good to see that the culture of sports movies is growing in our country. It can do a whole world of good to the sports culture in our society,' he said.

Negi, who was roped in as a technical director by the film's producers, said he was impressed by Shah Rukh's performance and that the superstar was able to do justice to the role.

'When they (producers) were writing the screenplay, they faced some technical problems regarding hockey. Then they approached me and appointed me as the technical director of the movie,' he said.

'Almost 35-40 percent of the movie was about hockey and I had to teach the girls the game so that it looked real on the screen. It was real fun working with them as some of them had never touched a hockey stick in their life.'

The former coach now plans to set up a hockey academy in memory of his son Abhi Ranjan, who passed away 18 months ago at the age of 19 in a motorcycle accident.

Negi's autobiography 'Gloom to Glory' will be released later this month.

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