1. Chak De! India: Salman Khan was the first and original choice for the coach’s role in Chak De! India .There are many theories as to why Salman opted out.One theory goes that Salman asked producer Aditya Chopra for too much money and they never worked together till Ek Tha Tiger when Salman got exactly the amount he wanted. Another theory is that Salman wanted some changes in the script which director Shimit Amin refused to do. Shah Rukh stepped in and the rest was history.Shimit Amin said to me in an interview. “Shah Rukh had played hockey and his passion for the game remained. During Asoka I worked in his company, doing promos. He knew what I am all about. As for his image, to date people consider Shah Rukh’s performance in Swades among his best. And that was different. We never thought of his image or anything else.”
2. Chak De! India was a slow starter. It opened to a lukewarm response . But picked up over the weekend to become the second biggest hit of 2007 after Om Shanti Om.All the 12 girls on Shah Rukh’s hockey team became stars in their own right. Said director Shimit Amin, “It was very difficult to cast. We had to find girls who could play hockey and speak lines that were quite complicated. We had to go to different parts of the country and find women who could play sports. We looked for girls who were firstly athletic, and then see if they could hold the hockey stick.”
3. Why did Shimit make a film on a girls’ hockey team? In the course of making Chak De! India Amin discovered how poorly hockey is treated in the country. “When I’d go out on Sunday mornings searching for female athletes, every single green patch that I passed had boys playing cricket. No hockey anywhere – forget female hockey players. I couldn’t even see one female cricketer anywhere. I’d be so envious. If I had to make a cricket movie my life would be so much easier. But we loved the script so much we wanted to be true to it as much as possible.”
4. Finally, after months of search, semi-athletic females were chosen.They had to choose semi-actors and train them to play hockey and to act. For three months the cast and crew would wake up at 4.30 a.m. and they’d play hockey for five hours and then undergo physiotherapy.Said Shimit, “It was nerve-wracking. We didn’t know if it’d work. But all the actors, hockey players and actors-players helped one another. They all became one community. The cast never felt it was acting. Finally, they looked convincing as a team.”
5. After Chak De! India Shimit Amin directed Ranbir Kapoor in Rocket Singh Salesman of the Year in 2009 which was a massive flop. Nothing was heard of Shimit since then except in connection with Mira Nair who not only considers Shimit a dear friend. But also a talent to reckon with. Way back in 2013, Mira told me she was trying to persuade Shimit to return to acting. But it didn’t work out. Shimit was busy helping his wife with her directorial debut, a film entitled Girls .But 11 years after Rocket Singh Salesman Of The Year, Shimit was back at direction, albeit just one episode of Mira Nair’s series A Suitable Boy.It is believed that Shimit will very soon return to full-fledged direction.