Saw the movie last night and just enjoyed it. Its a must-see for every sports lover.
The story is about a disgraced hockey player coaching the women's team and leading them to the World Cup. Of course, its a Yash Chopra movie so you know the end very well. But the way the film has been told makes it very engrossing.
The first half takes some time to build - very understandably. There are too many characters and all of them manage to get just enough screen time. There are stories within stories - a family that doesn't want their daughter-in-law to behave like a Indian bahu and not go to the World cup; there is a line muttered which says these are Indian women and are not expected to be roaming in their knickers; there are - of course - references to cricket (there is a scene where a guy wants to join an ongoing fight with a cricket bat and Shah Rukh Khan stops him with a "If you are a guy, fight from the front. There are no Chhakkas in hockey." Wonder what that was all about) - but mercifully these substories do not distract you from the main story.
The second half is where the film really scores. Here's where the team plays. Superb photography, slick editing and great moves keeps your interest in. SRK is wonderfully understated.
There is no over-the-top acting and no melodrama. No heroines. No running-around-the-trees. No rain dance. And yes, its a sports film.
If you are a sports buff, then you got to watch it. There are some jarring moments (A coach doesn't select the captain; here SRK appoints the goal keeper as the captain. Also why is the coach always in blue jeans and white shirt? Isn't he supposed to be wearing the team colours?), but that would be nitpicking.
Is it based on a real life character? Read the interview of Mir Ranjan Negi in DNA Sport.Sunday dated 12th August 2007. I couldn't get the URL here.
Go ahead and enjoy the movie.
P.S. I loved the moment when SRK (as coach) tells the wannabe players, "I want players to play for the country first, then for the team. Aur uske baad, agar thodi bahut jaan bachi ho to apne liye." And a few reels later, he repeats the same lines.