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As Chak De! India Celebrates 14 Years, Here Are Some Fun facts

Salman Khan was First Choice for  the coach’s role in Chak De! India

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.

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