Saturday, August 25, 2007

Chak De India: The Universal Language of Sports Cliches

For those following the story, I did make it to see Chak De India yesterday afternoon. I did end up hiring a car, which only cost me $15 for the day, so... not that big of a deal. I also learned that Hyderabad has a much more efficient and inexpensive light rail system which I will be using in the future. ^__^

People kept asking me "how are you going to see this film when you don't understand Hindi?"

I said I thought I would be able to follow the story well enough.

After all, we know at this point that a film like Chak De India will hit all of the following tropes:

1. The Hero/Athlete suffers a fall from grace.
2. The Hero/Athlete is given the opportunity (or forced) to take on The Team No One Wants, which is usually made up of adolescents.
3. The Team No One Wants is filled with young people who represent every stereotype of "what's wrong with young people today," as well as a handful of "topical issues." They're also generally from an assortment of social classes/ethnicities/gangs/states/etc. that hate each other.
4. The Hero/Athlete breaks down the individual problems within The Team No One Wants and makes them into, simply, The Team.
5. The Team begins to show promise.
6. The Team discovers some flaw in The Hero/Athlete which causes them to push The Hero/Athlete away, call for his resignation, boycott, mutiny, etc.
7. As soon as The Hero/Athlete is out of the picture, The Team realizes how much they had learned from The Hero/Athlete and go to beg for him to return.
8. Which he does.
9. At some point in the film there is an important game which The Team mangles and Loses Very Badly. Is all hope lost?
10. But The Hero/Athlete rallies his Team, and they become even better. Then we are treated to a few climactic games, possibly a championship, which is only won at The Very Last Minute. Hooray!

If one thinks about it, this is the basic schematic for every film from The Mighty Ducks to Sister Act to, impossibly, The Sound of Music. Sound of Music of course contains the optional Plot B: The Love Story (and a rarely used Plot C: Running From The Nazis), and as far as I could tell Chak De India stayed away from the love story, except possibly near the very end. I got that the Queen Bee character made a pass at Kabir Khan which he refused. Then they had that conversation outdoors by the field which I couldn't follow. But since there was no kissing and no embracing I'm gathering that the coach was not going to take her up on her offer.

But, because I knew how the plot was going to play out, I was able to understand the film perfectly well. Being able to recognize a few words like "Punjabi" and "shaadi" helped a bit. And, truth be told, when SRK was on-screen it didn't matter what anyone was saying or doing. ^__^

The real trick will be the next time I go. I saw a lot of tantalizing trailers before started, including the one for Saawariya. Which, although it looks a bit like a combination of Moulin Rouge and Dangerous Beauty, may turn out to be something completely different.

So I've either got to learn Hindi fast, or single-handedly patent an application in which a person holds a small PDA-like device in his/her lap during a film upon which he/she can see subtitles (without disturbing the rest of the audience). But learning how to program one of those things will probably be just as difficult as learning Hindi. Hmmm...

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