Hockey Hall of Shame to Gold via Shah Rukh Khan
Posted online: Wednesday, May 30, 2007 at 0000 hrs Print Email
Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Chak de India is based on the fall and rise of former India hockey goalkeeper Mir Ranjan Negi
MUMBAI, MAY 29: For years, Indian fans have been unable to shut out two traumatic sporting memories of the '80s. Chetan Sharma's last ball low full toss to Javed Miandad who hit it for a six in that 1986 Sharjah game against Pakistan is the more famous Hall of Shame nominee. But old timers still think that hockey goalkeeper Mir Ranjan Negi's porous defence, in India's humiliating 1-7 loss to Pakistan in the 1982 Asian Games at New Delhi, was a bigger heart break.
Twenty-five years after those 70 minutes at the jam-packed National Stadium and subsequent unsubstantiated allegations of match-fixing, Bollywood is ready with a film that captures Negi's life and game. Yash Raj production's Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Chak de India, due for an August 10 release, isn't just about the angst of the troubled goal-keeper but also about his redemption.
Produced by Aditya Chopra and directed by Shimit Amin of Ab Tak Chhappan fame, the bio-pic also captures Negi's hour of glory that ensures a typically Bollywood happy ending. As coach of the national women's team, Negi helped the team capture the gold at the Manchester Commonwealth Games, exactly two decades after the game where he let in seven goals.
Negi, who is part of the usual pre-release contractual oath of secrecy that goes with every big banner films, is tightlipped but does confess that King Khan's character is based on him. "The film captures my life story," he told The Indian Express.
The cast and crew have been instructed to keep the plot under wraps, but fragmented information has given enough indications about the storyline. The Yash Raj website's one-line synopsis of Chak de India is: The film follows a coach who is fighting his personal demons as he takes a motley group of girls to the pinnacle of world hockey.
Pre-release film material shows Shah Rukh sporting a slight stubble, a look that resembles Negi. Cine magazine sneak previews talk about the protagonist whose only aim is to see the Indian Tricolour hoisted with flags of all other countries.
But at the Bombay Hockey Association ground, it's no secret that Negi accompanied the film unit to Australia to provide technical assistance for action on the hockey field, and also provide insights about his own life. There are whispers about how Shah Rukh, a college level hockey player himself, didn't take much time in regaining his touch during the shoot.
Helen Mary, who was the goal-keeper of the Negi-coached team that won the Commonwealth gold in 2002, has heard about her mentor rubbing shoulders with Shah Rukh and can't wait for August's second Friday. "I know about it as I am constantly in touch with Sir. I still discuss my game at length with him," she says.
Mary recalls the days in Manchester when the coach had long discussions with the team. "Even when we meet these days, we recall those days. We have some great memories. Sir used to tell us how important the victory was to him. At times, I felt that he was more motivated than us," she says.http://www.indianexpress.com/story/32267.html