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|We arranged a special screening of the movie, with a small hockey ground made with green carpets in the theatre. I called a few Chak de girls. I wore my Asian Games India blazer.
Six OB vans showed up. The atmosphere was unbelievable. The movie was a big hit.
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he movie Chak de India was scheduled for release on August 10, 2007. Five days earlier, we had a trial show at Yash Raj Films Studios. Apart from SRK's children, Aryan and Ruhana, along with their school friends, only the Chak de girls and the people involved in the movie were invited.
The movie started and there was a lot of cheering and shouting by the girls. I was overjoyed that the hockey scenes, especially in the second half, had come out very well, including the last tie-breaker scene.
After the movie ended, there was complete silence. Shimit had been generous with the scissors, and many scenes had been completely removed. I met Aryan with his friends and asked him if he played hockey in his school, and whether he liked the movie. He said that the film was good. I knew then that if a boy who had little knowledge of the game could enjoy the movie, then it will be a hit.
Later there was a big party at the studio itself, where we danced with SRK and all the girls. When I met Aditya Chopra, I said that this movie was going to create history. He simply looked at me with an expressionless face. Perhaps he knew how unpredictable Indian moviegoers are.
Yash Raj gave out a media release on the making of the movie, and I started getting calls from the media. The movie had made hockey and me famous. Chak de turned my life on its head. Getting recognised wherever I went, and having strangers walk up to me to offer a good word about the film, took some getting used to. I had entered a new phase of my life.
There were no film promotions, except for a few hoardings and newspaper ads. My friend Rakesh Sharma from Cinemax in Sion, Mumbai, told me that there was only 50% attendance on the first day in the theatre. We arranged a special screening of the movie, with a small hockey ground made with green carpets and steel goalposts in the theatre. I even called a few Chak de girls. The media was there in full force for this event. There were six Outside Broadcast vans in front of the Cinemax theatre. I wore my Asian Games India blazer. The atmosphere at the theatre was unbelievable. The movie was a big hit.
The nationwide craze was phenomenal. Who would have believed that a movie on hockey would become such a big hit? I was invited to a special screening of the movie in Chandigarh, where I went on stage during the interval and gave my inputs about the movie. I attended the Freedom Run in Bhopal on the invitation of the vice president of the Nehru Yuva Kendra, Meenakshi Natarajan. The procession from the airport to the hotel was like a hero's welcome. There were about 10 cars in the convoy, and we stopped to accept flowers and aarti at regular intervals.
The celebrations continued unabated. The phone kept ringing continuously. My bosses and colleagues from the Customs department, sports circles, and friends whom I had not spoken to in years called up. My wife was getting upset at the number of phone calls and interviews I was giving.
A phone call came from the producers of 'Amul Voice of India', a singing programme on the Star television network. I knew little about television shows, but since all the Chak de girls were attending, I agreed to come on the show.
I was made to sit behind the stage in a makeup van. During the programme, the anchor Shaan kept saying that the coach of Chak de India is coming. After the initial buildup, I was taken on to the stage. The girls were ecstatic. They ran and hugged me. The show was aired the following week. This was my first appearance, as a non-hockey player, on national television.
Shah Rukh Khan at the London premiere of Chak de India
Photograph courtesy Matt Dunham of AP