Thursday, September 27, 2007

Hindi: भारत को राहुल गांधी की जरूरत अभी क्यों है?

पिछली बार जब मैंने हिंदी में ब्लोग्गिंग करने का प्रयास किया था, तो पूरी तरह से सफल नहीं हो पाया। तब ऐपल के कम्प्यूटर में ये सुविधा उपलब्ध नहीं थी। अब फिर से कोशिश कर रहा हूँ। ये मेरे अंग्रेजी लेख "Why India Needs Rahul Gandhi Now?" ( भारत को राहुल गांधी की जरूरत अभी क्यों है?) का हिंदी अनुवाद है। इसे "हरिभूमि" अखबार ने हाल ही में दो भागों में प्रकाशित किया है (२८-२९.०९.२००७)।

मैं श्री शैलेश नितिन त्रिवेदी, जिन्होंने अनुवाद करने में मेरी मदद करी, और श्री सचिन अवस्थी, जिन्होंने अनुवादित पन्नों को .jpg फॉर्मेट में बदला, का शुक्रगुज़ार हूँ।

पाठकगण को लेख पढ़ने के लिए चित्रों पर क्लिक करना पड़ेगा।

अमित ऐश्वर्य जोगी

Read More (आगे और पढ़ें)......

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Note: The Hindi translation of this post appears here.
There is something peculiarly symbolic about today: at the ICC World Cup 20Twenty finals at Johannesburg, India beat Pakistan by five runs with only three balls to go; some hours earlier, the executive body of India’s largest political party, AICC, announced a major organizational revamp at its headquarters at New Delhi. Both these apparently unrelated incidents, however, were united by one common feature: in ICC as well as in the AICC, the Ancien Régime is finally- and decisively- making way for a ‘Brave New World’ (to use Aldous Huxley’s phrase), in which teams comprising the Youth will determine Destiny’s trajectory.

These new teams are captained by persons who couldn’t have been more different: Mahinder Singh Dhoni, the Captain of ‘Team India’, comes from a middle-class family living in the predominantly tribal state of Jharkhand; Rahul Gandhi, the newly appointed AICC General Secretary in-charge of its two youth bodies, the Indian Youth Congress (IYC) and the National Students’ Union Of India (NSUI), is the Harvard-educated heir-apparent of India’s principal political dynasty (his father, grandmother and great—grandfather have all been Prime Ministers). Mr. Dhoni’s elevation to the captaincy, therefore, marks a fundamental break with the past: the focus of national cricket has shifted from the ‘metros’ (which formerly supplied most of India’s top cricketers) to the hinterland.

In contrast, Mr. Gandhi’s appointment is at best, indicative of an ambiguous continuity with a definitive past eagerly poised to leap into- and seize- an as-yet-uncertain future, and at worst, something of an anachronism, especially when viewed from the point of view of the ‘liberal mindset’, impregnated as it is by the twin-ideas of democracy and industrialization (to adapt Professor Eric Von Hobsbawm’s analysis), which universally criticizes- if not outrightly condemns- dynastic politics of any kind as a fallback to a feudal past.In his memoirs, ‘The White House Years’, Dr. Henry Kissinger (who incidentally taught at Harvard before famously serving in the Nixon Administration) squarely blames this ‘liberal mindset’ as the single most important stumbling block in the scion of America’s richest dynasty, Nelson Rockefeller’s successive failed attempts to secure his party’s nomination for the U.S. Presidency in 1960, 1964, and 1968, thereby implying that Mr. Rockefeller was perhaps ‘the best President America never had’. [Like Rudolph Giuliani, another successful Republican from New York, Mr. Rockefeller, despite being a Republican, was perhaps a tad too liberal for his own good.]

Indeed, the persistence of dynastic politics especially in the democratic context presents a paradox that cannot be easily explained. In post-colonial, ‘underdeveloped’ societies, it is sought to be justified by taking recourse to such obfuscated concepts as the neo-psychoanalyst, Carl Gustav Jung’s postulation of the ‘hero-worship complex’ embedded deeply in the ‘collective unconscious’. Political dynasties, however, are not limited to the so-called ‘Third World’. Quite naturally then, more pragmatic reasons are put forward in the context of ‘developed’ societies. For instance, a recent biographer of ‘the Bush Dynasty’, Peter Schweizer, accounts for the prevalence of dynastic politics in the United States of America by exploring the systematic domination of family-based ‘patron-client networks’ over established party structures: apparently, Barbara Bush’s meticulously compiled Rotadex of tens of thousands of color-coded cards beats the entire Republican Party’s electoral apparatus when it comes to the two things that matter in winning elections: ‘fund raising’ and ‘campaign management’. In India, which, as a ‘developing’ nation, might well be placed somewhere between these two worlds, it is hard to deny that both the ‘hero-worship complex’ and the ‘patron-client network’ factors are at work to a certain extent. But the real reason for the continuing popularity of the young Mr. Gandhi’s family lies elsewhere.

At the risk of digressing, it becomes pertinent here to refer to Sunil Khilnani’s seminal work, ‘An Idea of India’. In this treatise, the Princeton-based Professor Khilnani makes a radical observation: a fully formed national identity did not precede Independence; indeed, that was left principally to India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, to ‘discover’ (not surprisingly, his most celebrated work is entitled “The Discovery of India”, a must-read for every Indian). This he did by putting forth the notion of “Unity in Diversity”, which forms the bedrock of India’s Constitution. For Pandit Nehru, the Constitution itself was to act as the chief instrument against the only-too-real centrifugal forces of ‘casteism’, ‘communalism’, ‘regionalism’ and ‘linguistic-divide’, which though temporarily suppressed- first by the forceful politico-administrative apparatus of the British Raj and then by the subsequent euphoria of the Freedom Struggle- would surely begin to resurface, fuelled by considerations of what C.B. Macpherson labels ‘votebank politics’. As Rajni Kothari points out, he couldn’t have been more perceptive: the balance between the ‘national’ and these other centrifugal forces began to reverse after the rupture of India’s ‘monolithic polity’ (read: the rise and growth of non-Congress parties).

More recent history has borne witness to the fact that the single greatest threat to India’s national identity (or atleast the one conceived by Mr. Nehru and the Constitution) has come from ‘majority communalism’ masquerading as ‘democracy’. Unlike other centrifugal forces that merely seek to use identity as a tool for capturing greater power within the preexisting Constitutional framework, communalism, particularly majority communalism, specifically seeks to exclude other Indians (read: the minorities) from the process of governance altogether. Majority communalism, self-styled as ‘Hindutva’, is, however, based on one faulty- and ultimately self-defeating- assumption: the Unity of the Hindu Samaj (in the words of Madhavrao Golwalkar, the RSS supremo at the time of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination: “Hindu samaj mein sangathan nahi, Samaj ka sangathan hai”). As the recent election of Mayawati in India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh (UP), has revealed (much to the chagrin of the Hindutva bandwagon), almost every ‘Hindu’- or to use a more apt phrase from Louis Dumont, ‘Homo Hierarchichus’- sees himself or herself not in terms of their religion per se, but in respect of a far more primary identity: Caste. To situate Professor Dumont’s argument in the Khilnani Hypothesis, ‘casteism’ and ‘majority communalism’ (a.k.a. Hindutva) are, in essence, self-contradictory species of the ‘national identity’ genus. In any event, neither of these forces seem to be on their way out.

This brief background, in my opinion, is critical to understanding the role of Mr. Gandhi’s family within the broader framework of India’s national identity. Prior to his appointment as AICC General Secretary, Mr. Gandhi’s political experience comprised chiefly of being his party’s main campaigner in the UP Assembly election. The campaign line adopted by Mr. Gandhi, no different from his forbearers, attacked both caste- and religion-centric politics as divisive; in short, he spoke about “Unity in Diversity”, and his family’s role in preserving that ideal; he also appealed to the electorate to rise above these ‘other’ considerations and vote for the ‘national’ one. As it turned out, the outcome of that election revealed, above all else, his great-grandfather’s prescience: despite huge turnouts at his public meetings, Mr. Gandhi’s party finished a very distant fourth, after two caste-based parties, the BSP and SP, which were in turn followed by the Hindutva-centric BJP; this in a state that only two decades ago, constituted the principal base of the Congress.

What, then, went wrong? Or to put it differently: what went right for Ms. Mayawati’s BSP, which formed a majority government in UP after almost 18 turbulent years of minority governments? The reason is quite simple, really: the successful reinvention of the BSP as ‘the New Congress’. Ms. Mayawati’s advisors decided to extend her mentor, the late Mr. Kashiram’s ‘arithmetic logic’ (or what is more commonly called ‘the number game’) from within the confines of the Vidhan Sabha (what we know as 'horse-trading'), and applied it directly to the electorate. They realized that on its own, the BSP’s relatively committed ‘Dalit’ votebank couldn’t form a government; what was needed, therefore, was to supplement it with other votebanks, most notably, the Brahmins (who constitute 14% of UP’s electorate) and the minorities (who rightly saw Mulayam Singh Yadav’s SP as playing into the hands of the BJP). Together this tripartite votebank alliance of Dalits, Brahmins and Muslims paved the way for an unprecedented BSP victory in UP (D+B+M= BSP). [Her main rival, Mr. Yadav’s SP, on the other hand, could barely retain its Yadav votebank; the Thakurs were almost uniformly split between the SP and Mr. Rajnath Singh’s BJP. Coincidentally, this same ‘DBM’ combination constituted the Congress’ votebank in the days when it ruled UP; hence the term ‘the New Congress’ for the BSP.]

Most significantly, this election showed the BSP that the same formula- although not necessarily comprising the same castes/communities- can be applied to other states as well. For example, the BSP is talking to Bhajan Lal in Haryana to form an alliance between the Dalit and the non-Jat votebanks; in Jharkhand, they are talking to Sibhu Soren of the JMM to form an alliance between the Dalit and the tribal votebanks. Thus are being laid the foundations of Ms. Mayawati’s grandest ‘experiment’: the Mahajyot. To situate Mahajyot in the Khilnani Hypothesis, Ms. Mayawati hopes to once again reverse the balance of forces: her ultimate aim is not so much to reincarnate the pre-1967 Monolithic polity (in other words, become the Congress of old) but instead to endeavor systematically- bit by bit, state by state- to construct a Megalithic polity around the ‘superstructure’ of her Dalit votebank. The use of Marxist terminology here seems only too apt: for doesn’t Karl Marx postulate an alliance between the proletariat (read: Dalit) and the bourgeoisie (read: other non-communal identities) to topple the Ancien Regime? [Note that this proposed alliance didn’t quite materialize as Professor Marx had predicted; the failure of continental revolts of 1848 proved him tragically wrong.]

In my opinion, such an arithmetic approach cannot be good for the country; not in the long run, anyway. At best, it can be a necessary instrument for propelling issue-based politics. To truly progress as a democracy, we need to rise above identity-based considerations- infact, there ought only to be one identity, i.e., the national identity- and instead focus on issues that really matter; concrete things that would make a very real- tangible- difference in the lives of India’s poor, like employment, health care, education, electricity, water-supply, roads. We ought not to vote for someone just because we share the same identity- which is to say that that someone belongs to our caste or community- but because we know for certain that he or she cares for us and knows how to solve our problems, that our interests will be given primacy over his or her own; that he or she has, above all, a vision for our future, the several yet joined futures of our unborn children’s children. Indeed, it doesn’t matter how that person has come into power: what matters- and what history will ultimately judge- is what that person did to better the condition of his fellow human beings once he came to be there.

As the discussion above reveals, Mr. Gandhi has come into a Mephistophelean world: as I see it, it is a world full of promises but it is also a world bent on dismantling the very ‘national identity’ his ancestors not only helped painstakingly built, telling us, teaching us, to celebrate the Unity in our Diversity, our Oneness, but also laid down their lives fighting to protect it. If that world is to survive, as indeed it must, then India’s best hope lies in the Family. For they belong to no one caste, community, religion or region; and yet they belong to each and everyone of us irrespective of who we are, what we speak and where we come from, for the simple reason that, not unlike India’s Constitution, they are the best and only embodiment of our cherished ‘national identity’ by virtue of the unique 'burden and glory' history has charged them with. No other Family can claim to represent the whole of India. If we are to survive and prosper as a Nation, then none other than the Family can lead us: they remain our surest Defense against the forces that are tearing us apart; they are our best Hope to take India to the forefront of the family of nations. But that alone cannot- should not- suffice.

Sixty years ago, when his great-grandfather made ‘a tryst with destiny’, he identified four ‘non-negotiable’ principles that he hoped would keep India united: Sovereignty, Democracy, Secularism and Socialism. These Four Pillars have, more or less, withstood the test of time; even in the worst of times (the demolition of the Baburi Masjid and the Gujarat Genocide, to name only two), they have exhibited a remarkable resilience. Striding atop these Four Pillars, his mother went to the people and almost single handedly reversed ‘the cavalcade of history’ (to use Mr. Arjun Singh’s phrase) to achieve the unthinkable: the forces of majority communalism are today everywhere in retreat. Mr. Gandhi will have to prove himself to be a Guardian worthy of protecting the sanctity of these Four Pillars from ever-deadlier enemies, just as his forbearers have been. But even more than that, he will have to identify new issues- and strategies- that will reinforce the foundation of these Four Pillars, and upon which he- we- can together Build still Greater Monuments that will translate our Dreams into Reality.

Jai Hind!

Read More (आगे और पढ़ें)......

Monday, September 24, 2007

My Book Shelf on Shelfari

Very recently, some friends invited me to Shelfari. This website offers bibliophiles from across the globe an opportunity to come together to talk about what they love most: BOOKS. I recommend it immensely.

Embedded below is a (virtual) Shelf of some of the books that I have loved. I have also put it permanently on the left sidebar (under the THIS BLOG RECOMMENDS section- since removed because certain readers like "The Inhuman Humanist" strongly felt that it gave it a cluttered look, which distracted from the main page. The list continues to be available on the Shelfari link above- AJ: 10.10.2007). Readers will need to download Adobe Flash player to scroll through it. Needless to say, I intend to keep expanding this list.

AJ Read More (आगे और पढ़ें)......

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Showcase: Dr. Sushovan Roy

This brief clip showcases the musical talent of Sushovan Roy. Dr. Roy is the one person I truly envy: a brilliant AIIMS-educated psychiatrist with a blooming practice in Thatcherite-London, he left everything to become a teacher in Pokhra under the icy-slopes of the Annapoorna in faraway Nepal. About a decade ago, he returned to the Motherland after being suspected by the Royalist Government of being pro-Maoist (as a matter of fact, several of his former 'students' now occupy high positions in the present Nepalese administration). In this straight-from-the-heart rendition of the Gulzar-RD Burman number, Tujsé Naraz Nahi Zindagi (I am not angry with you, Life), notice how he infuses fresh angst into each word he sings.

Personally, I find both the choice of song as well as its rendition by Dr. Roy particularly apt in light of yesterday's development (for those who haven't already heard, our longtime bête noire Mr. Vidya Charan Shukla finally marched back to the Congress ahead of an imminent midterm poll).

Also seen in this clip are Dr. Krishna Reddy and Dr. Saibel Farishta.

AJ Read More (आगे और पढ़ें)......

Monday, September 10, 2007


Over the past few weeks, commentators to Undertrial have suggested changing its look. In a month long multiple-option poll hosted on this Blog, almost all of the 90 odd people who voted were in agreement about reducing the length of the posts (76%) while also opining that the entries were, on the whole, “intelligent” (92%). Surprisingly few actually said that they were incomprehensible (17%).

Dr. N. Subba Reddy, a South Korea-based scientist, and Hitendra Singh, a Nagpur-based educator, found that the black & white contrast cast an avoidable strain on the eyes; on the other hand, Aman, a Jabalpur-based environmentalist, felt that the dark background was more in tune with ‘Undertrial’; Dr. Chayanika Uniyal, a Delhi-based youth activist, discreetly hinted at simplifying the language of the entries to make them more comprehensible to ‘the general reader’, who might otherwise be put off by big words; Atul Singhania, a Bangalore-based computer engineer, strongly felt that the title of this Blog must be replaced with another, since I am, technically speaking, no longer an Undertrial (after my acquittal by a Trial Court).

Dr. Saibel Farishta, a Raipur-based orthodontist and a sometime-amanuensis, advised that my “Lists”- of books, movies, music and cuisines that I like- not only cluttered the sidebar, but also smacked of ‘shameless showing off’. To drive home his point, he then quietly proceeded to delete all entries posted by him (during the one-month long period when I was in Jail) as well as my tribute to him, and in what can only be described as ‘a fit of rage’, he changed the password without bothering to tell me the new one, thereby preventing me from posting on my own Blog.

Whatever other illusions I might entertain, the message is clear: “change the look of this Blog”. To that end, I invite visitors- and commentators- to help me in my Quest to reinvent Undertrial to the satisfaction of its readers. Your comments would not only be welcome, but in light of what I’ve written above, they’ve also become absolutely essential for this Blog’s survival!




A. LISTS Removed from SIDEBAR. They can be read in the VIEW MY COMPLETE PROFILE Link. (courtesy Dr. Saibel)
B. Lengthy INDEX replaced with a new Label CLOUD INDEX (-do-)

2. CONTRAST REDUCED: BLACK background replaced with WHITE; Text in BLACK (courtesy, Hitendra Singh and Dr. Subba Reddy)

3. POST SUMMARIES with a READ MORE link rather than FULL POSTS appear on the MAIN PAGE (courtesy, the POLL)

4. The "DARK" UNDERTRIAL THEME continues (courtesy Aman):
A. White on Black retained in SIDEBAR TITLES

5. YOUR COMMENTS now appear on the MAIN PAGE (my way of saying THANK YOU!)


PS- ATUL, I can't think of a new title. Can you?

Read More (आगे और पढ़ें)......

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Film Review (E): Chak Dé

Like most Indians, I don’t much care for hockey, more so women’s hockey. Once upon a time, Hockey was indeed our National Sport: those were the days of Dhyan Chands & repeated winnings of Gold Medals at the Olympics & inflicting crushing defeats on world-superpowers, which promptly shamed them into abandoning hockey-sticks altogether. But that was long before the Plague of Cricket descended upon India, creeping out of carefully trimmed bougainvillea boundaries of hallowed Residency Clubs with gateposts proclaiming “Indians and Dogs Not Allowed”- upon whose manicured lawns, our erstwhile Rajahs & Nabobs (presumably, the writing on the gatepost did not apply to them) were permitted the pleasure of proxy-battles with their Imperial suzerains but with nothing more lethal than a bat, a ball and three long sticks- and quietly spilling into those wide open spaces that the ‘natives’ used for no particular purpose other than perhaps, answering nature’s call in the wee hours.

Sport historians- in this Age of Superspecialities, I’m sure we’ve some of those too- would find that the Rise of Cricket didn’t automatically lead to the Fall of Hockey; some will no doubt attribute it to Cricket’s tremendous potential as a revenue-rainmaker on primetime television (the end of each ‘over’ and every ‘out’ and ‘boundary’ provides plenty of time to advertise such life’s necessities as “Fair & Lovely Men’s Fairness Cream”) vis-à-vis Hockey’s paucity to do so (half times, anyone?); others, not quite content with this slightly ‘Marxist’ interpretation, will cite the example of Football, which suffers all of Hockey’s handicaps (‘it’s Football with a stick, really’) and yet manages to be the West’s most popular sport. What they will not dispute, however, is the imminent coup de grace of Hockey. Not so anymore: “Chak Dé”, a film starring Bollywood’s current heartthrob, Shahrukh Khan and eleven incredibly entertaining women, might well have postponed the Death of Hockey if not entirely Resurrected it to the national centrestage.

Like Hockey, I am not much of a fan of Mr. Khan’s over-the-top theatrics: frankly, I found his stammering-Kks a bit of an annoyance (not to mention the fact that most women I liked crooned over his life-size posters while barely noticing my real-life existence). It was, therefore, after much resistance that I finally yielded to the inevitable: Mummy’s diktat that I see the movie, pronto. Quite sensibly, I did so after a rather satisfying lunch, comprising a delectable Ghost ka Salan prepared by a friend whose ancestors came from Kashmir, carrying with them culinary secrets of the Wazwan; in short, Chak De was intended to be little more than a substitute for a much-needed afternoon siesta. That it wasn’t. Au contraire, it was a movie unlike any other I’ve seen in a long, long time; quite certainly, the year’s best. And not because of Hockey, or even Mr. Khan.

At its heart, lies the full-throttle Celebration of the Underdog's Comeback. Yash Raj Films, Chak De’s producers, are no fools: they haven’t risen to the top of their business by making movies about outdated sports hardly anyone watches anymore; it’s because of their incredible capacity to tell stories that make us feel better about ourselves, about who we are, and what we might become; all of it happily peppered with the age-old recipe of Unity in Diversity. In this case, the story is inspired by real life. India’s humiliating defeat in hockey in the 1982 Asiad Games was attributed to its Goal Keeper, Negi, who apparently “gave away” not one or two- but seven- goals to her archrival, Pakistan. My father was there, sitting in the spectator’s gallery of the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium at New Delhi (thanks in fact to his current archrival and then Sports Minister, Mr. VC Shukla), when it happened: they- the nation- felt betrayed. Mr. Negi, needless to say, was disgraced, and retired to a quite life in Indore (where Papa was posted as Collector) until he resurfaced as the Coach of India’s nondescript women’s hockey team. Under him, it went on to win the Asian Games (if not the World Cup).

On the whole, Chak De remains faithful to this tale: the only notable- perhaps, necessary- difference is that unlike Mr. Negi, Mr. Khan’s character doesn’t quite yield seven goals to Pakistan for even a star of his stature cannot hope to carry the audience after a blunderbuss of this magnitude (notice, that I refrain from using the word ‘betrayal’). Instead, his character is allowed to get away relatively lightly, with no more than a penalty-miss. Let’s just say that it wasn’t his best day. The consequent disgrace, then, is attributed, in part to a witch hunt led by a hyperactive media but mostly to the fact that Mr. Khan’s character, like his real life persona, is also Muslim (hence, it would seem, the affinity with Pakistan). In fact, this subtext of communal ambivalence, so prominent even today in the majority community’s attitude towards their Muslim counterparts during India-Pakistan matches, makes the film’s adaptation prescient to contemporary India’s socio-cultural discourse, and more than justifies this corruption of Mr. Negi’s lifestory.

It also exposes, perhaps for the first time on the silver screen, the sloppy underbelly of “sports administration” in the nation: “the Federation,” remarks one player, “exists for us; not the other way round.” At the Atlanta Olympics, India’s best shot at winning a Gold in the Light Weight Wrestling Category was squandered because some blessed official of the Wrestling Federation entered our contestant (who, like Mr. Negi, also happens to be from Indore) in the Medium Weight Category, leading eventually to his- no, not the official’s but the contestant’s- disqualification. Apart from this evidently insurmountable bureaucratic malaise, the film also criticizes the political compulsion to provide adequate ‘representation’ to all the states while constituting national teams. In an early roll-call scene, Mr. Khan’s character bars players from playing so long as they continue to introduce themselves by shouting their names followed quickly by those of their domicile-states; and it is only after they realize that they are all infact playing for IN-DI-YA that they’re allowed to commence training.

Frankly, I find it difficult to subscribe to the film’s anti-reservation stance: in a Utopia of equalities, it might well be different; but where not every state has the facility to produce world class players on their own, it would be insane, not to mention unfair, to populate the team with players from say, Mumbai, on the sole pretext that they’re better. As it is, better players are, like everything else, increasingly becoming products of laissez affaire market forces, which are yet to permeate into the nation’s predominantly rural hinterland. Sui Mui Kerketta, a key-player in Mr. Khan’s inimitable team, hails from a remote part of Jharkhand (in actuality, however, she is a Tamilian): this fact, more than any other, would have weighed in her favor in ultimately landing her a spot on the national team.

For the record, this Blog believes that Affirmative Action is intended to ‘promote equal opportunities for all’ where they do not formerly exist; to do away it, therefore, would be a validation for inequalities- historical, social, regional and economic- to continue in perpetuity. Needless to say, over time, the scope of affirmative action itself is intended to reduce in direct proportion to the overall reduction of inequalities; to increase its prevalence simply due to considerations of Macphersonian votebank politics, as is often the case, defeats its very purpose. For instance, the basis for the application of affirmative action to Muslims ought to be “The Sachar Committee Report”; not the indiscreet wooing of the minority voter (but this is a subject matter befitting a separate entry).

The issue of Gender Politics is also dealt with somewhat unabashedly: in one mise en scène, the women’s hockey team quite literally beats a bunch of juvenile eve-teasers at a local McDonald's, no doubt drawing inspiration from their counterparts on the women’s wrestling team. In yet another scene, a ‘senior’ player, passed over for captaincy by Mr. Khan, offers her body to him (needless to say, he refuses, pontificating that “this is the reason why you aren’t captain in the first place”). Even more intriguingly, the onscreen portrayal of an ultimately doomed romance between the team’s centre-forward and the celebrity Vice Captain of Team India, who couldn’t care less about his paramour’s profession, becomes a metaphor for the off-screen relationship between the two sports: Hockey and Cricket do make rather strange bedfellows.

In the end, what makes this film work, especially with non-hockey, non-Shahrukh viewers like me, are the heartwarming performances of the eleven women players; none of them are professional actors, and it is perhaps this fact, more than anything else, which imparts to their characters, a kind of spontaneous vulnerability that has us rooting for them all the way: Chak Dé, India!

Read More (आगे और पढ़ें)......

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Amit Aishwarya Jogi
Anugrah, Civil Lines
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Chhattisgarh, INDIA
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