Tuesday, August 21, 2007

You had me at Chak de!

(This was written soon after Chak De!, a movie that made me look at Shah Rukh Khan in a whole new way)

Dear SRK,

You had me at Chak De!
Actually you did have me at Fauji, a long long, time ago, although the “I say chaps” guy lingered longer in my memory. And then you did have me at Circus, and then at Baazigar.

Somewhere along, you lost me….for a very long time. You were busy prancing around in your Tommy Hilfigers and DKNYs or singing unchained melodies to chiffon clad lasses in deserts or haystacks. And I was suitably distracted by the other Khans and life and general, and it didn’t really matter much.

And then, out of the blue, you had me at Swades again, when I was hit by a surge of patriotism, wanting to build dams and get electricity into people’s homes and write on inland letters and postcards all over again…

The thing is, I never really had a favourite Khan — I find superlatives very hard to negotiate — reason why I don’t have a best friend, the best book I’ve ever read, the best movie I have ever seen, the best thing I have ever eaten or any of that.

Chak De changed everything for me. It’s irrelevant that after years, a movie had me choked, or the fact that my I-hate-Hindi-movies beau was as taken in by its implicit honesty and passion as I was, or that it had no songs, and no pervading gloss. But it all added up to the larger outcome — I had found new respect for you — something that will help me forgive everything you ever did. And that, to me is big.

I find the world of sport and movies about fascinating — probably because it is an alien world to me — a world that I could never really be a part of. When I was a little girl, all the big, bad girls were always into sport, while I was the nerd who sat on the first bench, knew all the answers and did all her homework.

I so wanted to be like them, but my puny frame, weak lungs and tam-bram upbringing never really allowed me. The closest I came to was being a reserve player in the volley ball team at school, and I was so petrified that I would have to play that I fell ill on the said day, and everyone thought I was the traitor.

Finally, after all these years, sport and me have kind of reached middle ground, what with the bro and the beau’s collective passions. I can now survive a game of cricket or golf or football and sometimes even ask the right questions without being totally off the mark.

So when I watched 16 feisty girls of seemingly different shapes and sizes (some who reminded me of me) get together and survive the collective politics resulting from their disparate energies, I am awed.

I think of the man who got them to think of the whole instead of the self…and yes, I know its all about good screenplay and direction and all that. But at the end of the day, it’s what you see. And I saw someone who was large enough to be smaller than the team. And that did it for me. So, SRK, I salute thee!

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