Though 10 years have passed since the release of Chak De India, the Shah Rukh Khan feature has remained etched in our minds. Be it the fervent patriotism that the movie evokes, the rooted dialogues or a mixed cast, the sports drama contained all the right ingredients for it to be termed as a classic.
As the film completes 10 years, we spoke to the film’s director, Shimit Amin, at Yash Raj Studios in Mumbai. The director fondly recalled his memories from the sets of Chak De India and revealed that the film would not have been possible without Shah Rukh Khan.
He said, “It has been such a dry experience with Shah Rukh Khan in the sense that he was really there for the job and we finished it. We didn’t even have a chance to breathe because there was so much work on that project. Shah Rukh Khan came in almost like a non-entity in the project because he felt that he was just one of those people. We had such a huge cast and Shah Rukh Khan was just one of them. He was such a great guy as he said that I will be a part of this film as if he steps out, then everything goes off balance. In terms of his involvement, he was so professional that I didn’t feel that he is Shah Rukh Khan. He just became the character.”
When asked to reveal a few lesser known facts about the film, the director said that they made use of Shah Rukh Khan’s stardom in Australia to shoot for the crowd scenes.
“He was very incredible when in Australia we needed to shoot crowd scenes. We needed people to come in to watch matches and that’s when Shah Rukh said why don’t you use me. It was in Sydney wherein we had to shoot for the final match. There was this sequence of people coming inside the stadium and cheering. I wanted to create this great build up of people coming to watch the match and he was like ‘Why don’t you use me?’ So we just advertised in Sydney that Shah Rukh Khan is going to be in Sydney at the Olympic Hockey Stadium. We were shooting for five nights there and we expected people to come for one night or maximum two nights. But they came out in huge numbers every day. The first night, we thought this is going to be the maximum audience that we can capture as on other night there would be some sort of an audience, but smaller as compared to the first night. So we had a whole stadium full of people who had come to watch the shoot.”
“A hockey match lasts for two hours, but here we had to shoot for around 8 hours. The problem was how much of Shah Rukh will they get to see here because he was not playing the match and just standing at the dug out. We kind of kept the audience sitting there enough. What we would do it bring Shah Rukh out at regular intervals. He would be in the dug out as his work was mainly inside the dug out. The minute audience would get restless, we would bring him out and shoot him against the back so that the background is huge and we get the organic crowd reaction. He would wave, start acting and people would start cheering. At one point we put him in a buggy and let him take a round of the stadium. He would wave, people would wave back and what we did was capture the reaction. We used his personality and he was very cool about it.”
Stay tuned to read the full interview of Shimit Amin with InUth.