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They came from all parts of India. Some were professional players, others held a hockey stick for the first time when shooting for the film. Meet the squad that makes up India’s latest sporting drama

Written by Piyushroy |
August 18, 2007 2:51:48 pm

Anaitha Nair, 21

On field: Aliya Bose
Position: Right Out
Jersey No. 7
How I was picked: I got third time lucky after missing out on the film’s hockey and acting auditions. So it was five months from my first audition in February to my making it to the team last June. I was one of the few with zero hockey experience. I had done English theatre in Bangalore for five years, a Malayalam film, By the People, apart from a brief role in Phir Milenge.
The best and the worst: Getting into the mental discipline of a sportsperson was quite difficult as I’ve never had even a remote connection with any sport.
SRK moment: Every moment initially. We were so thrilled that he was around though later of course we got used to it.
Next move: My next release is going to be the Nagesh Kukunoor directed Aashaye opposite John Abraham.Chak de means: It’s a term of celebration.

Tania Abrol,21
Abohar, Punjab

On field: Balbir Kaur
Position: Full back
Jersey No. 3
How I was picked: The production team was scouting around colleges in Punjab and found Tania in MCM DAV College in Chandigarh. ‘‘They told me to hit the ball and say a few lines,’’ says Tania. She hit it hard and was called to Mumbai for another round of auditions.
The best and the worst: The worst was definitely the alarm going off at 3.30 am and the run for the practise sessions. ‘‘But once there, we had a rocking time. We forgot all about our injuries, bruised ankles, back aches, and just got down to the game.’’
SRK moment: The Main Hoon Naa hug he gives everyone on the sets and all of us playing soccer with him.
Next move: Studies—she’s in third year college—but who knows it could be films after that!
Chak de means: A milestone in my life.
— Jaskiran Kaur

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Shubhi Mehta, 28

On field: Gunjan Lakhani
Position: Right HalfM
Jersey No. 4
How I was picked: Being an MTV roadie finalist, I was asked if I would like to go for the film’s hockey auditions. Next happened my acting audition and that worked fine too as I had done theatre in Bangalore.
The best and the worst: The best thing was that I got to learn hockey. The worst was that I got injured a lot.
SRK moment: On the first day of the shoot, I was sitting in a corner of the cloakroom on a small stool. Shah Rukh walked up and asked if he could share it with me. We sat there chatting for nearly 20 minutes and then I asked him a really silly question, ‘Do you enjoy acting?’ He replied, ‘‘I guess after 16 years I am supposed to enjoy it,’’ before adding, ‘‘Choti choti stulon par aisi badi badi batein hoti hain…’’
Next move: A couple of scripts have come my way.
Chak de means: Sportsman spirit. It’s a magic call that lifts you.

Sagarika Ghatge, 20

On field: Preeti Sabarwal
Position:Centre forward
Jersey No. 9
How I was picked: I’ve always wanted to be an actress but my parents insisted I complete my graduation. So the day my BCom final exams were over, I went for the audition with a few of my regular photographs. I didn’t even have a portfolio. But I was selected on the day of my audition itself. I was the last one to join the team.
The best and the worst:Getting to know so many people and keeping pace with Shah Rukh sir was the high point. Getting up at 4.30 am for training was the tough bit.
SRK moment: My entry scene where I was supposed to show attitude, but I was so nervous of Shah Rukh that I could hardly do it convincingly. But he gave me some tips.
Next move: I’ve got film offers.
Chak de means: Play your heart out and make India proud.

Arya Menon, 19

On field: Gul Iqbal
Position: Left
Jersey No. 10
How I was picked: Having played school level hockey I went for the film’s Bangalore auditions just for the heck of it. My Hindi wasn’t too good, so I didn’t think I would be selected. However, one of the film’s assistant directors who saw my hockey audition liked my performance and I was called for the role after a month.
The best and the worst: We trained for two months and then all through the film’s shoot. The best thing about training was meeting so many wonderful people.
SRK moment: When I saw him with the stubble I told him, ‘Please don’t shave off the beard, you look so hot in it!’ And he bragged about it to every one.
Next move: I definitely see a career for myself in south Indian cinema.
Chak de means: Fun! Let go! The most awesome experience ever!

Seema Azmi, 30
Azamgarh, UP

On field: Rani Dispotta
Position: Right Defender
Jersey No. 2
How I was picked: I am an NSD graduate and have acted in many films including Water. The casting director had seen my work and I guess they thought I fitted in. My mother tongue Bhojpuri helped my essaying the character of the Jharkhandi girl Rani better.
The best and the worst: The training was great but I hated waking up at 3.30 am in the morning.
SRK moment: The way he used to recharge us with his infectious spirit especially when we were all tired. I liked the way he would exhort us for another run with his signature shout of ‘Bhago India bhago!’
Next move: I am currently directing a play on war widows called The Silent Front in Bangalore. I have some interesting character roles in Hindi films as well.
Chak de means: An experience that has changed my whole life.

Vidya Malvade, 32

On field: Vidya Sharma
Position: Goalie and Captain
Jersey No. 18
How I was picked: The casting director had seen me on my travel show. So, there I was playing the goalie and the captain—even though I had no association with hockey.
The best and the worst: The training taught us the spirit of the game, so much so that when I held the Cup as captain, I cried spontaneously. The toughest part was getting into the pads initially and getting the moves right. But being a Kathak dancer helped.
SRK moment: My first scene with him that had only him, me and a hockey stick and I hit his leg with my first move. But he just said chill and taught me how to wield it right.
Next move: I am doing Sanjay Gadhvi’s Kidnap and Junction starring Abhay Deol.
Chak de means: Just go for what you believe in!

Kimberly Miranda, 21

On field: Rachna Prasad
Position: Utility Player (one who can play any position)
Jersey No. 14
How I was picked: The director and the casting agent came to my college, St Andrew’s, during Sunday practice and watched me play. Later they asked me if I was interested in being a part of the film. I said yes because it is about a sport that is close to my heart.
The best and the worst: The fitness was the best thing. The worst was that sometimes you over-did your exercises.
SRK moment: In Australia, we used to play football after the shoot. SRK is a good footballer.
Next move: A graduate in History from Khalsa College and a state hockey player, Miranda has shifted focus to football. Is currently a senior level footballer representing Maharashtra.
Chak de means: India!

Nichola Sequeira, 17

On field: Nichola
Position: Bench and also a Utility player
Jersey No. 12
How I was picked: A friend had gone for an audition and recommended my name. The casting agent then came down during a tournament at St Andrew’s College where I study and saw me play. They offered me a role but then decided against it because I was only 16. But they changed their mind.
The best and the worst: I practice regularly so there is nothing particularly good or bad about it.
SRK moment: In a scene, which was later edited out, my character was to replace Gunjan. The scene was not shot in sync-sound so SRK came up to me and said, ‘‘I can’t think of anything to say, so I will quietly mouth ABCD, make sure you don’t laugh.’’
Next move: I’m clueless. I guess sports, hockey.
Chak de means: Hockey and India.

Raynia Mascarenhas, 21

Played: Raynia
Position: Utility player
Jersey No.16
How I was picked: I have played hockey and represented Mumbai. I read an article in the newspaper and got interested. So my mother who works with Radio City got in touch with some friends who put me through Yashraj Studios.
The best and the worst: Nothing apart from the fact that it was really grilling and that too is both a good thing and a bad thing.
SRK moment: He took us clubbing in Melbourne and later we all partied the night away at our apartment.
Next move: I just want to concentrate on my job now. I work with Spice Jet in the ground support control department.
Chak de means: All the 16 girls in the team.

Nisha Nair, 20

On field: Soi Moi
Position: Defence
Jersey No. 17
How I was picked: I am a state level player. The casting agent came to BHA (Bombay Hockey Association) and I was asked to audition and later they let me know that I’d been chosen for the part.
The best and the worst: There is nothing better than playing hockey or football in the rain. There was no bad part.
SRK moment: Meeting him for the first time on the field at BHA and later playing football after a shoot in Melbourne.
Next move: Studies and sports.
Chak de means: Hockey.

Lalhming Kimi, 20

On field: Mary
Position: Defender
How I was picked: A goalkeeper in her state team, her game and a great voice got her the role.
The best and the worst: Hockey came easy to her.
Next Move: Kimi is all set to graduate from player to coach—she’s pursuing a diploma in hockey coaching from Netaji Subhash National Institute of Sports, Patiala.

Sandia Furtado, 20

On Field: Nethra Reddy
Position: Left Out
Jersey No. 11
How I was picked: I had dropped in at the Yashraj office to meet my mum who was auditioning some of the actors for the movie. That’s when the casting director saw me and suggested I get on board.
The best and the worst: The best thing about the training was doing the stunts.
SRK moment: There’s a scene where I am being bullied by Bindiya and Shah Rukh just comes along and puts his arm around me. A lot of people really envied me.
Next move: I am a third year student of sociology and anthropology and first want to be done with college. I am open to doing ads but films are a strict no till I finish college.
Chak de means: Being one.

Chonchon Zimik, 24

On field: Molly
Position: Left Half (back)
Jersey No. 6
How I was picked: A fashion design student from IITC, Pune, Zimik’s friend recommended her to a casting agent from Yashraj Films. ‘‘I was called for an audition. It was a hilarious experience because I was asked to say some fighting dialogues in Hindi. I don’t speak Hindi well so the entire effect was rather comic. But I guess it worked.
The best and the worst: I trained for three months and I am happy that I can now play our national sport. Waking up at 4:30 am everyday for three months was the tough bit!
SRK moment: I’m clumsy and I was always getting into a spot. Shah Rukh always laughed at that and I can never forget that smile and that twinkle in his eye when he would look at me.
Next move: Post film, I was slightly confused. But I’ll be realistic, I am not exactly what Bollywood is looking for. I work in Mumbai in a fashion designing workshop and will stick to fashion designing. But if there is a good role in a film that deals with the North-East or my state, then I am game for it.
Chak de means: Victory!

Chitrashi Rawat, 17
Dehra Dun

On field: Komal Chautala
Position: Right In
Jersey No. 8
How I was picked: I had gone to Jabalpur as a member of the Uttaranchal hockey team to play in the national women’s tournament when I was asked to come for the audition. The film’s director saw me play the left striker in a couple of matches after which I was selected.
The best and the worst: Though I am a professional player I got to learn a lot on the techniques used in international hockey. On the personal front, since I was the youngest team member, everyone pampered me silly. However, the worst thing was getting up every day at 4am for practice that would continue till 2 pm.
SRK moment: There is a scene where Shah Rukh hugs and lifts me. We did so many retakes of the scene that by the time it was finally canned I had begun to smell like him.
Next move: I intend completing my graduation in Mass Media and I will be playing hockey for my college from September. As for acting, the offer has to be really exciting. For now, she’s content doing her Haryanvi Komal Chautala act for friends.
Chak de means: An emotional mantra for motivation.

Shilpa Shukla, 26

On field: Bindiya Naik
Position: Centre Half
Jersey No. 5
How I was picked: Having worked in theatre for six years I was fine about the acting bit, the hockey part was a bit dicey. Casting director Abhimanyu and director Shimit Amin had seen my performance in Khamosh Paani and were keen on casting me. I too was keen on playing the ‘bad girl’. So I landed up at the audition, the only girl with a hockey stick, two days after my husband gifted me one on Valentine’s Day.
The best and the worst: I had never imagined I would ever go through six hours of daily practice. The high point was being coached by Mir Ranjan Negi (former Indian player and coach).
SRK moment: It’s the Zipper scene when I come on to Shah Rukh. Though I was never daunted by his star status, after doing the scene I was literally shivering for two or three minutes. I wrote my experience of doing that scene on a card and gave it to him. He read it and gave me an assuring hug.
Next move: I have signed a film, Junction, opposite Abhay Deol
Chak de means: Urja, energy, enthusiasm and power.

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