A funny thing happened while I was watching Chak De. I kept seeing Karan Johar in my mind's eye. In fact, I saw him so often it was almost like he watched the film with me.
You have to watch Chak De to realise how little Karan knows Shah Rukh Khan's strengths and weaknesses. It is thanks to such friendships that there has been predictability in Shah Rukh's acting. He has stagnated as an actor because that's where the vision of his friends starts and ends. It required an Ashutosh Gowarikar to envisage him in a Swades, a Sanjay Leela Bhansali to perceive him as Devdas and now a Shimit Amin to conceive a Chak De with him. [Please note I don't mention Paheli anywhere. It was an error of judgement on Shah Rukh's part and a huge coup for the middle class sensibilities of Amol Palekar.]
The above directors expected SRK to move from facile love stories to universal roles -- and not only did he deliver, he also showed an amazingly attractive facet of himself that none knew existed. And in cinema, what can be better than such pleasant surprises?
Karan has done nothing for Shah Rukh`s career except cast him in teenybopper love stories. I include Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna in the Karan Johar genre. To me, the movie reeked of a child playing 'I am grown up' games with no notion of what it was trying to say. Non-workable relationships exist and how! But they don't express themselves in the cheesy way KANK told it. A more superficial film on human relationships is yet to be made!
In Chak De, Shimit Amin has used every cliche available. But, to his credit, he has still given us a wonderfully fresh pro-women film (without being anti-men) and he has left us gasping for more. When did one last ask for more in a Hindi film? Perhaps in a 60s Shammi Kapoor film, but never after that -- not even in Rang De Basanti.