Finally watched Chak De! India today.
I’d heard for a long time that it’s a good film, yes, but more – that here was a film that focussed on a sport other than cricket; surprise, surprise even more, here was a film that focussed for a change on women’s sport in India.
Yes, it’s about all of these. But in the end, it’s about neither of these. Not Hockey. Not Women’s Sports.
It’s about playing for your team, and putting the team above everything else.
And yes – it’s a wonderful film indeed.
Remember my earlier post about Indian hockey players ruing the lack of interest in India about hockey?
Well, guess what has happened since that post (of course, if you are Indian and you follow the news, you probably know). The Indian hockey team has failed to qualify for the Olympics. That’s a first in 80 years. How far more humiliating can it get?
Chak de India, anyone?
‘Now when the Indian cricket team does well, people sing the ‘Chakde India’ song’, says former India hockey player Dhanraj Pillai.
The idea seems to be that India focusses only on Cricket, and ignores all other sports. The idea seems to be that that’s really unfair, that India should in fact follow all sports equally.
Pray why should that happen? It is not a secret that India does not produce the best athletes in the world, for whatever reason. When you have a team that is capable of being the best in the world, then why should attention not focus on that team? When you compare cricket with other sports, why do you forget that India has been far more successful in cricket than in other sports (that in fact should be a cause for concern, because really India has not been consistently successful in cricket either).
When was the last time the Indian hockey team did anything of note on the world stage? Whatever it achieves are always in the Asian competitions. Olympics? Zero. World Championships. Zilch. And still you expect India to follow hockey?
India has in fact been cognizant of rising talent in other sports. Jyoti Randhawa is a household name, even though he still has a long way to go before he challenges for the world championships. Sania Mirza has caught the Indian imagination ever since she showed glimpses of being right up there in terms of talent. Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi are still household names, long after they’ve stopped being the Indian Express. Narain Karthikeyan was in the limelight as long as he was showing signs of being in the F1 circuit as a race driver. He’s not in the news now because he is the test driver for his team now, and not the race driver. Vishwanathan Anand is well respected, and well known, even though he does not generate as much passion as stars from other sports, because really, chess is not a passionate sport, but far more a thinking one.
Simply being the national sport does not by default hand it the right to being the most followed one. Be good at what you do, Indian hockey players, and India will take note. Till then, we’ll all sing Chak De India whenever India does well, be it in whatever sport.