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"Chak De India is very on beat": Shahrukh

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Courtesy: IndiaFM
Monday, August 06, 2007
"I don't think Shimit and Adi are the kind of people who'd make an off beat film," says Shahrukh Khan discarding rumours that his next film Chak De India is another attempt by him at off beat cinema. A film based on the trials and tribulations of Indian women's hockey team, SRK plays the amiable coach that weaves a bunch of girls from all parts of the country into a combative unit of strength and drive. In this interview King Khan expresses his fondness for director Shimit Amin (in the process he dismisses all rumours of the alleged differences between the two), the experience of working with raw young talent and why he feels Chak De India should become the anthem of Indian Sport. Time to dig in guys....

What made you decide to do this film?
There were a lot of reasons, first is off course the director. I have known him for years and he is a very simple, hardworking and talented. He has worked with me in the film Asoka. He's a very sweet, unassuming kind of a guy and to choose a film which is on sports and which is normally neglected say perhaps apart from Lagaan, Hip Hip Hurray and Iqbal. Now we haven't really made sports film and its something that I thought when I was younger I should be doing but I didn't get a chance. So when I am old and grey and over the hill I am glad someone like Shimit thought that I could sort of fill in to a sports film and field hockey has been a personal favourite sport of mine and I have been wanting my kids to learn it. I do feel I am no one to really comment from the outside that the state of Indian Hockey is not good but I have always felt that if there is anything I can do via the medium that I work in about the things that I think are special like field hockey. My father used to play, my friends used to play and I love it too so when all these things came together and off course Yash Raj producing it, they are all friends and family and I couldn't have got a better chance to make a dream come true about doing what I like doing most which is acting and doing a subject which is close to my heart.

Can you tell us something about the character you play?
The character's name is Kabir Khan. He's a coach; an ex-Indian hockey player who is living with some demons, has got some problems in life, has not been successful, wants to overcome that but without being cynical or disturbed. He decides in his mind and heart that he going to do something positive about it so it's a film about achievement in the face off failure and it's a film that looks at failure in a positive way that if you haven't done well fairly or unfairly the idea is not to give up or become cynical .The idea is to take on some kind of a challenge and try to overcome that obstacle which had stopped you earlier. I would say the character is quite aggressive when he wants to be. If you really ask me though I have played it I really don't know what the character is. I have played from my heart. It's a mix of Jaideep's writing, it's a mix of Shimit's outlook on the whole film, it's a bit of Adi's belief in the film and it's a bit of my mannerisms and style. It's all rolled into one. I would like it to be thinking, feeling may be of an elderly brotherly kind of a character who you feel confident in, who himself is shattered from inside, so it's very complex its not just like a simple explanation. I haven't been able to understand it myself yet.

What was it like working with a whole lot of newcomers?
Fantastic, earlier I thought that working with newcomers would be a bit of a hassle because they would not know their lines, you know you become a little patronizing you become a little kind at times, a little agitated and irritated at times because things are not going the way you think they are going but I think the whole production and the whole team had worked very hard with them and not to take any credit away from these girls. I think they are very hardworking and wonderful. They put their heart and soul into the film. They have practiced and learnt hockey, they have learnt the lines, they know the scenes they knew everything and at the end of it all after having worked for 18 years as an actor I got a lot to learn, because there is a bit of rawness when newcomers come and face the camera working for so many years you tend to become a little mechanized .You see a scene with a young girl who has never acted before, she says her few lines and they don't seem like you would do them this way but when you hear it out it sounds very right so it's a great learning process to work with newcomers. I had done that a bit in Swades but which was with still honed theater actors not film actors but here there were most of the girls had ever faced any kind of acting job so this was really nice and it was a great learning process for me.

Among the girls in the team many of them must have been your fans what was it like working with them?
The girls are very sweet and they were working really hard and we had a lot of readings before we started the film and couple of meetings so that we got easy with each other. Apart from some of them liking me, its a little embarrassing because some of them were 5/6 years old when they saw my films. It's a little embarrassing to be working with girls where you suddenly realize god you are old, you have been working a lot. But it was also important for me to be comfortable with them and not treat them like kids because the whole purpose of the character Kabeer is that he doesn't treat them like kids or girls. He treats them like grown up, tough people so I think that little bit of being fans and stalwart compared to the others got over very fast in the reading and meeting stage and then we were all co-actors and co-actresses just working together and having a great time and they were really nice, very well mannered very well brought up and really nice kids.

Is Chak De India another effort by you to do off beat film like Swades and Paheli?
I don't think these are off beat films sometimes I like the stories because they are different and I don't think Shimit and Adi are the kind of people who would make an off beat film. Its very on beat I think but the subject is that you can't make it every year, it's a different subject so I don't know what an off beat film is. I don't like boring films myself so I don't try to do those. I think this is a film with a different kind of a soul and a different kind of a story line so that's how it's different and I don't think it's off beat

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the words Chak De India?
Chak De strangely to me is a line from Dilwale. I remember we used to say Chak De Phate in Dilwale so I don't know but I get reminded of that but I hope Chak De India becomes like a sporting thing whenever Sachin is playing or whenever Dhanraj Pillai is going with the ball somebody screams Chak De India which means score a goal or hit a sixer or get Sania Mirza to win the Wimbledon....

Read more about: paheli, swades, shimit, shahrukh khan
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