Yashraj Films ‘ superhit film Chak De India , a gritty tale about an Indian women’s hockey team and their disgraced coach who achieves glory played by Shah Rukh Khan , has bagged The Billie Awards in the US, named after legendary tennis player Billie Jean King.
The award honours media excellence in the portrayal of girls and women in sports and physical activity and is given in four categories – breakthrough and innovation, entertainment, journalism and outstanding journalist.
The Shimit Amin directed film was declared the best in the entertainment category.
“The film continues to pay back the faith we had reposed in the movie even when conventional wisdom would have dictated otherwise. To win accolades like this from around the world, especially from places where depictions of women’s sport has had a long and established tradition is especially heartening,” said Yash Chopra , chairman Yashraj Films.
“It was an honour to be selected by such a distinguished panel of women’s sports historians, journalists and media industry executives. But while we cherish this honour, the greatest reward for the movie was undoubtedly the love and affection that was showered on it by audiences worldwide,” he added.
The award function was held April 15 in Beverly Hills, California. Thirty-five years ago this year, Billie Jean King defeated Bobby Riggs at the Houston Astrodome in the notorious “Battle of the Sexes”.
Amin, who picked up the award on behalf of Yashraj Films, said: “The reaction to the movie was simply fantastic. You would not believe that this was a foreign audience – comprised of professional writers, critics and industry professionals for the most part – the way they reacted. It just reinforced our belief that the message of the movie and the performances of Shah Rukh Khan and the girls cuts across all boundaries.”
The ceremony was attended by sporting greats like Julie Foudy (soccer), Michelle Kwan (figure skating), Rosie Casals (tennis), Tony Gonzalez (football), Tracy Austin (tennis) and many others.
Elton John wowed the audience with his performance, including a rendition of “Philadelphia Song”, which he had written in honour of Billie Jean King.