No one thought it would work, not even the people who produced it (Aditya Chopra of the Yash Raj banner). The only thing going for it was the presence of superstar Shah Rukh Khan.
But off-beat films with SRK in the lead have not always worked (Paheli, for instance). So everyone was taken aback when Chak De, the story of a disgraced coach who grooms a ramshackle hockey team, leading it to the pinnacle of victory, not only became a huge hit, but a cult film.
The title song began doubling as an anthem and was played at every sports event. Hockey became the new cricket.
And cricket gained from it too. Now, whenever a six or a four is hit by the Indian team, the Chak De song comes blaring through the public announcement system. Does it inspire them to for more? There is no word from them on it yet.
The Chak De girls became overnight stars, making appearances everywhere, from TV shows to celebrity events.
The film's scriptwriter Jaideep Sahni and the director (Shimit Amin) became hot property in Bollywood. Even hockey coach Mir Ranjan Negi, on whom Khan's character was loosely modeled, became a star, participating in a TV dance reality show.
And King Khan proved why he's called King Khan. Again. And later in the year, King Khan struck again with another kingly movie -- just in case Indians felt like moving on.
Om Shanti Om was of course less stirring and didn't make you reach for the tricolour but it did make Chak De look a little old. Just a little.