It has been 15 years since Shimit Amin directorial sports drama Chak De! India hit the big screen. The movie went on to mint big money at the box office (Rs 108 crore worldwide gross) against its relatively modest Rs 20 crore budget. It garnered not only commercial success, but excellent reviews for its script, directing and central performances. In fact, Chak De! India is still regarded among superstar Shah Rukh Khan‘s finest performances till date.
But did you know that once Shah Rukh himself had doubts about Chak De’s success? Speaking at the University of Edinburgh, the actor said that post its first screening, he thought Chak De! India was the ‘worst film’ the team had made in their lives.
“We had some of the brightest minds making the film like Aditya Chopra, Jaideep Sahni, Shimit Amin. We had young girls who learnt how to play hockey. We had Yash Chopra backing it. But when I saw the film at its first screening, we all looked at it and felt it was the worst film we had ever made in our lives. The girls didn’t know this because for them seeing themselves on screen for the first time was a big thing. So they were irritatingly screaming and dancing while the four us were sitting there and crying. We had reached that stage of failure where you start telling people, listen we did what we wanted to. This is what we set out to make and success and failure is transient and we will come back. It was really really sad,” the actor had said at the time.
Another interesting trivia about the sports film is that it was first offered to another superstar, Salman Khan. During the release of Sultan, when Salman was put this question, the quintessential ‘Bhai’ of Bollywood had a funny response to it. “Chak De! India was offered to me but I left it because even Shah Rukh Khan should be a part of a few great films,” the actor said lightly.
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However, in an even earlier interview just post the release of the movie, Salman, while speaking with CNN IBN had said that he had problems with the climax of Chak De! India. “I had an issue with the climax of the film. Adi (producer Aditya Chopra) had told me that ‘I will make it the biggest hit and you don’t know what you are missing out on.’ I was fortunate Partner did well. Chak De! India has done really well, Shah Rukh Khan has done really well. I was wrong and he (Aditya Chopra) has made it the same way he narrated it to me, and I was like how can this work dude, it can’t work,” Salman said with a small laugh.
Helmed by Shimit Amin with a screenplay by Jaideep Sahni, Chak De! India released in 2007. Shah Rukh Khan played hockey coach Kabir Khan who is appointed to mentor the Indian women’s hockey team. Apart from SRK, it also starred Vidya Malwade, Sagarika Ghatge, Shilpa Shukla, Chitranshi Rawat, Tanya Abrol, Shubhi Mehta, Masochon Zimik and Seema Azmi, among others in pivotal roles.