I still remember watching a film at Cinemagic Andheri East (Now PVR Andheri East) with my brother wherein the promotional song of Chak De India was screened in the interval. Back in 2007, where makers often used the conventional tool of marketing by requesting the cinema hall’s to screen the theatrical trailer, with Chak De India, YRF tried a new strategy of screening a promotional music video of the film wherein Shah Rukh Khan was seen introducing his hockey team. Well as expected, the reactions to the music video was quite mixed wherein even my brother and I were wondering as to what is Shah Rukh Khan upto.
A few weeks later, Chak De India across the country on 10th August 2018, and the initial response to the film in terms of ticket sales was not very encouraging. The film took a below average opening of Rs 3.07 crore, however what happened next was something that everyone who watched the film were confident of. The word of mouth kicked in and the collections started escalating with every passing day. The response among the audience watching the film was unanimously positive, and it was the word of mouth that made my brother book the tickets for the evening show on second Sunday. This wasn’t a conventional Shah Ruh Khan film like Om Shanti Om that I or rather people would watch on the first day. I remember watching the film at Suncity Vile Parle, and as expected the theatre was jam-packed. As we had booked the tickets on Saturday evening, we managed to get the tickets for the second row.
There was an air of excitement among everybody as we stood outside the cinema hall waiting for the gates to open. As the film started, the audience in the auditorium started getting immersed into the screenplay and felt as if it is Team India that is playing the hockey. It didn’t take long time for the cinema hall to become a hockey stadium. There were claps, whistles, hooting at regular interval. I still remember how a gentleman sitting behind me suddenly shouted “Preeti Ball Pass Kar” in between the film at a tense situation in the second half. His reaction was priceless as it spoke the impact that the film had on the audience. Shimit Amin’s shot taking, and Shah Rukh Khan’s and his team’s performance made the film look as authentic as a real hockey match being played in front of our eyes.
There was a pin drop silence in the cinema hall during the penalty shootout in the climax but every Goal as well as Save by Indian team was greeted with claps and whistles. Although Shah Rukh Khan was playing a one-man battle at that point of time as far as the number game was concerned, Chak De India helped him get a different sort of reaction and respect from the audience. The film wasn’t the run of the mill Shah Rukh Khan blockbuster wherein the audience cheered for the superstar; this was one film wherein the cheers and hoots were for the character of Kabir Khan and his hockey team. When comedy and masala entertainers were flavor of the season, Shah Rukh Khan took up a film as unconventional as Chak De India, and the risk paid off. It was SRK’s presence that helped the word of mouth spread so quickly, that eventually resulted in a massive hike in collections with every passing day. The movie ended up earning Rs 68 crore at the Box-Office in India, and was one of the biggest hit of 2007 alongside the likes of Om Shanti Om, Welcome, Taare Zameen Par and Partner. 2007 proved to be one of the most memorable year of Shah Rukh Khan’s career as it saw the release of Chak De India and Om Shanti Om, both of which proved to be huge money spinners at the Box-Office.