Chak De! India opens in Delhi during the final minutes of a fictional Hockey World Cup match between Pakistan and India, with Pakistan leading 1–0. When Indian team captain Kabir Khan (Shah Rukh Khan) is fouled, he takes a penalty stroke. His shot just misses, costing India the match. Soon afterwards, media outlets circulate a photograph of Khan shaking hands with the Pakistani captain. The sporting gesture is misunderstood, and the Muslim Khan is suspected of “throwing” the game out of sympathy towards Pakistan. Religious prejudice forces him and his mother (Joyshree Arora) from their family home.
Seven years later Mr. Tripathi (Anjan Srivastav), the head of India’s hockey association, meets with Khan’s friend—and hockey advocate—Uttamaji (Mohit Chauhan) to discuss the Indian women’s hockey team. According to Tripathi, the team has no future since the only long-term role for women is to “cook and clean”. Uttamaji, however, tells him that Kabir Khan (whom no one has seen for seven years) wants to coach the team. Initially sceptical, Tripathi agrees to the arrangement.
Khan finds himself in charge of a group of 16 young women (each representing a different state), divided by their competitive nature and regional prejudices. Komal Chautala (Chitrashi Rawat), a village girl from Haryana, clashes with Preeti Sabarwal (Sagarika Ghatge) from Chandigarh; short-tempered Balbir Kaur (Tanya Abrol) from Punjab bullies Rani Dispotta (Seema Azmi) and Soimoi Kerketa (Nisha Nair), who are from remote villages in Jharkhand. Mary Ralte (Kimi Laldawla) from Mizoram and Molly Zimik (Masochon “Chon Chon” Zimik), from Manipur in North-East India, face widespread discrimination and sexual harassment. Team captain Vidya Sharma (Vidya Malvade) must choose between hockey and the wishes of her husband Rakesh’s (Nakul Vaid) family, and Preeti’s fiancé—Abhimanyu Singh (Vivan Bhatena), vice-captain of the India national cricket team—feels threatened by her involvement with the team.