Chak De! India remains one of Bollywood’s finest sports dramas, that boasted of brilliant writing and memorable performances.
It also happens to be one of the most relevant films to have come out of Bollywood, because of the honesty with which it captured the state of affairs in India, without exploiting or whitewashing the reality – a feat, for which Shimit Amin (director) and Jaideep Shani (writer) surely deserve a gold medal.
And even though it’s been over a decade since the film was released, it sadly remains relevant even today. Because little has changed in India, especially when it comes to the widespread racial bias that exists in our country.
When the National-level hockey players from across the states turn up to register themselves for the national camp, the ground manager and administrator, Sukhi Lal ji indulges in casual racism without any ill-intention.
Because this bias is so deeply ingrained, that many of us don’t even realize we’re being racist, till we’re called out. Like when Sukhi Lal makes India’s national players feel like a guest in their own home.
Even today, this is the attitude with which a majority of India treats people from North-East – as ‘strangers’ or guests in their own country. That is until they start winning and make the nation proud. And while it’s great that North-East India has contributed so significantly to sports in India, that shouldn’t be a pre-requisite for them to be treated as Indians.
But it’s high time that we consciously check our attitude. It’s time we become more self-aware, unlearn the flawed ideas we grew up with, and make an effort to treat every citizen as equal. Because when we win international pageants, sporting events, movie festivals, and whatnot, it’s never just a state’s win. It’s an entire nation’s win.
As Kabir Khan said, mujhe bas ek naam sunai deta hai, India. And that’s the lesson we need to take back from the film!