The Indian women’s hockey team scripted history by entering the Olympic hockey semifinals for the first time by defeating Australia 1-0 in the quarterfinals on Monday. This moment left Indians with that ‘Chak de! India - Déjà vu feeling’. It brought home real emotions that the movie and the character of coach Kabir Khan had created in the minds of common Indians in 2007.
As the team scripted history, Twitteratis began drawing comparisons between the Olympics match and the movie. Fans have begun comparing Sjoerd Marijne, coach of Indian women’s hockey team to the character of Kabir Khan essayed by Shahrukh Khan in the movie. In a rare instance of real imitating reel the victory of women team is inviting a lot of parallels with the movie.
"Ya Man. almost 14 years back on 10 of August Chak de India was released. It was made with unimaginable love & no words can explain that. Not for fame but to bring back the lost glory. #womenshockeyteam We got fingers crossed for semifinal’s", wrote Shilpa on Instagram.
CitySpidey attempted a rare comparison of the players in the Indian hockey team with the ChakDe characters of yore
Gurjit Kaur (25, Defender) Amritsar, Punjab
Real life, Gurjit apes Balbir Kaur from reel life. 14 years back Tanya Abrol played Balbir’s role in Chak De! India. Both of them hail from Punjab and their backgrounds seem similar. In the film, Balbir was number 3 who played as a fullback.
In real life Gurjit nicknamed as Guri wasn’t fond of sports however, did try her hand at circle kabaddi. She was sent to a hostel, to avoid the long travel to school which was situated near a hockey ground. Watching people play tempted her to join in, and once she did there was no looking back.
Savita Punia (31, Goalkeeper) Jodhka, Haryana
Real-life, Savita is akin to the character of Komal Chautala from the film. 14 years back Chitrashi Rawat played Komal’s role in Chak De! India. Both hail from Haryana and their personalities are similar. In the film, Komal was number 8 who played at right in position. In real life Punia grew in stature just as the women’s team started to improve rapidly, picking up two medals at consecutive Asian Games.
Vandana Katariya (26, Forward) Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
Real-life, Vandana is like Gul Iqbal from reel life. Arya Menon played Iqbal’s role in Chak De! India. Both hail from Uttar Pradesh and their stories seem alike. In the film, Iqbal was the number 10 who played at the left position.
In real life, Katariya grew up in Haridwar, whose family was dissuaded by locals from allowing her to play sports instead of focusing on household chores. However, her father would not have it and fought societal pressures to let her play. He passed away three months ago, and Katariya was unable to attend his funeral. Katariya has sealed her quarterfinal spot. India had to beat South Africa to stand a chance and she was the only one to score an Olympic hat-trick.
Both in reel and real life these players had to undergo dissuaded comments and struggles.
Salima Tete (19, Midfielder) Hesal, Jharkhand
Real-life, Salima is Rani Dispotta from reel life. Seema Azmi played Rani’s role in Chak De! India. Both hail from Jharkhand and their soul spirits match. In the film, Rani was the number 2 who played as the right defender. In real life, Salima was born in the Naxal stronghold, which is also a hockey hotbed. She worked on her family’s farm, earned money and bought a hockey stick for herself. Ahead of the Olympics, she had won 29 caps for the senior national team. She’ll hope the next two will come with an Olympic medal.
Lalremsiami (21, Forward) Kolasib, Mizoram
Real-life, Lalremsiami is Mary Ralte from reel life. Kimi Laldawla played Mary’s role in Chak De! India. Both hail from Mizoram and have a lot in common. In the film, Mary was the number 15 who was a substitute. In real life, Lalremsiami is one of the finest forwards in the team, Siami, as she is called by her teammates, is central to the idea of playing high-tempo hockey. When she was first selected as a 16-year-old, Siami could not speak English or Hindi. She communicated mainly through sign language apart from talking in monosyllables. She shared a room with her idol Rani Rampal, who led Siami’s initiation into the team. She created history by becoming the first female player from Mizoram to make it to the Olympics and was the first Olympian from the state in 25 years after Archer C Lalremsanga.
Sushila Chanu (29, Midfielder) Imphal, Manipur
Real-life, Chanu is Molly Zimik from reel life. Masochon Zimik played Molly’s role in Chak De! India. Both hail from Manipur and share common backgrounds and struggle. In the film, Molly was the number 6 who played in the left half in reels. And in real life she is one of the senior-most players in the team. Sushila has been one of India’s most influential players in the last decade alongside Rani Rampal. The half-back from Manipur, who works for the railways in Mumbai, captained the team at the Rio Olympics, which was the women team’s first appearance at the Games since 1980. She has over 150 caps for the national team and has played the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, and was instrumental in defeating the Australians in the quarter-finals.
Deep Grace Ekka (27, Defender) Lulkidihi, Odisha
Real-life, Deep is Aliya Bose from reel life. Anaitha Nair played Aliya’s role in Chak De! India. Both hail from the same region, In the film Aliya belonged to West Bengal and in real life Deep belongs to Odisha and share similar backgrounds. In the film, Aliya was number 7 who played at the right out position. In real life, Ekka comes from a family of hockey enthusiasts; her older brother Dinesh is a former Indian goalkeeper. Following in his footsteps, Ekka also wanted to be a goalkeeper but was pushed to play as a defender by Dinesh and her uncle (also a goalkeeper).
These ladies rose like phoenixes from ashes to dreams. Some were freed from the naxal stronghold, while some were criticised for not doing daily household chores. There were others who got moulded with the heat of farms and factories while some tried to meet expectations and to even escape an alcoholic father. The team has not only got India a proud moment to rejoice but also have stood tall fighting their odds making it their larger-than-life story.