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"There is no romantic angle in the film" : Shimit Amin

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By: Faridoon Shahryar, IndiaFM
Thursday, August 09, 2007
"Shahrukh is one of the most professional actors. Even if you have to put him in a bucket full of ice for six hours he would do it," said Shimit Amin, director of SRK's next Chak De India. The soft spoken behind-the-scenes-man with a heavy American accent is totally immersed in his craft and finds the "unfortunate publicity" that his film has received as hard to believe. He believes there's one publication that has been publishing "malicious reports" of his alleged 'differences' with SRK and lots more. In this freewheeling interview with us the Ab Tak Chappan director bares his heart out.

Your first film Ab Tak Chappan (RGV Company) was branded as hard core realistic film while Yashraj Films are known mostly for their candy floss brand of escapist cinema. How did you move from one school of filmmaking to another with your second film Chak De India?
I reacted to the script. I felt the project is worth it and I was onboard. It is not the typical project. I didn't have any problems doing it.

It's being said that Chak De is based on Mir Ranjan Negi, the coach of India women's hockey team that won the gold at Manchester Commonwealth Games.
It is coincidental. The script had already been written. There are similarities as all sports people have their own types of obstacles.

You must be tired of this question, but let's ask it anyways, why hockey as a subject for your film in a country that worships cricket. To add to it you are talking abut women's hockey...
Hockey is the national game of the country. There was a time when we had won 8 gold medals in Olympics. Now hockey has been relegated to some other sport. It could happen to cricket. Hockey has a certain history; there is something emotional about this sport. It is a desi sport while cricket has a colonial hangover.

I still remember I was traveling in AC III tier of Paschim Express from Delhi to Mumbai a few years ago and the same Indian Hockey Women's team that had won gold at Manchester was traveling along with us. I recognized Mamta Kharab, the star of Manchester maybe because of her short hair but I don't think if anyone else did...
It is difficult to play a sport that no one watches. People don't care but these players have a certain passion for the sport. They don't get respect even though they play as hard if not harder as compared with other sports. There is no funding, no one takes interest.

There have been reports in the media stating that Women's Hockey Federation has a problem with Chak De India as apparently they feel that the film is trying to project as if it is only after Shahrukh Khan's character takes over as the coach that the fate of Indian Women's Hockey starts improving...
The film has got unfortunate publicity. There is one source, one newspaper that is giving these reports.

What's the name of the newspaper?
I won't take the name....We were in the post production when all these malicious reports started coming in. Women's Hockey Federation has been completely supportive.

What about reports of your alleged differences with Shahrukh Khan?
He is a professional actor. He has a busy schedule. Things had to be worked around him. He has this attachment for hockey as he has played it himself. Once again it's this one newspaper that is spreading these stories.

Well, if one has to quote these reports then apparently SRK was upset with the many retakes you used to take...
One of the things is that Shahrukh is one of the most professional actors. Even if you have to put him in a bucket full of ice for six hours he would do it just for the heck of doing something exciting. These reports are silly.

What about stories that stated the crashing of hard disk carrying the data of Chak De India?
Anyone who has worked on Avid would know that it's not very hard to redigitise. It was one of those articles that was written without fact checking.

Alright, tell us something about the process of making a film like Chak De India...I believe a lot of time was spent in setting up the team...
It was a tedious process. We had to make sure that every character experiences everything that a player goes through. It was an interesting experience for all of us. The dedication for the game just doesn't happen overnight. A hockey match is 70 minutes. We had to shoot 8 hours a day. You have to be super athlete to last it. They had to be conditioned properly. It is easy to shoot cricket. Hockey is too fast.

There's no romantic angle in a film involving one of the best romantic heroes that the Indian film industry has ever produced...
There is no romantic angle in the film. Shahrukh's character is a hockey team coach and he is in love with his country. We never missed the romantic angle. It has all emotions and the masala.

Chak De India is releasing on August 10th a few days before August 15th. The timing is quite right to whip up patriotic feelings...
We are happy. In a weird way, the film is about patriotism but not in a jingoistic way. It has a patriotic quality to it, healthy patriotism if I may say so.

What kind of music do you have in the film?
We went with the script. It has different soundscapes, no lipsync songs. The songs are meant to boost the morale. There is no romantic angle, no qawwali, there was no room for it.

Finally, why do you think should people go to watch Chak De India?
It is a sports film. It portrays national sport that has never been done before. It is a great way to showcase a sport that has never got the right platform. It is a story of a coach. Anybody can identify with the dream of winning anything, this whole idea of playing for the country.

Read more about: shimit amin, ab tak chappan
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