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Women Turups Men

by Praful Zaveri - 02/05/2020

Turup (Checkmate) is a movie released in 2017. It's a story of three women who fight caste, religion and patriarchy in the midst of a community chess tournament played by men. The game of chess has been used on such a wide scale in the movie, that this movie deserves to be seen by every chess lover out there. FI Praful Zaveri, the author of this article, saw the movie just a week ago, and was so enamoured by it that he viewed it five times. He finally picked up his pen and wrote this review. In this review, you will also find the entire movie that can be viewed freely. Praful Zaveri has also launched a contest where the winner gets his Chess Course Books worth Rs.3499/-

Turup (Checkmate) - A review

FI. Praful Zaveri





How did I miss this film? More so, when it is based on chess! This is the question that is at the back of my mind after having watched TURUP (2017) five times in a span of 5-days after reading its wonderful review by Trisha Gupta in Mumbai Mirror of 26 April 2020. For an avid film crazy fan like me, who rarely misses a good movie and likes to see my favourite movies repeatedly without any sort of monotony, I have a mixed feeling of being deeply anguished at missing this and, at the same time, relieved that better later than never! And, I want the entire chess fraternity to watch this movie – where 3 highly debatable and grave topics of ‘marginalisation of women in 3rd world, casteism and communalism are put forth to the audience through the medium of chess, which is the precise reason of turning this into a light hearted movie!


Set in the backdrop of Chakki Chauraha (Bhopal) – one of the countless locations India has where roadside chess is as fiercely competitive as Indian tournaments and unknown players with prowess to give professional chess players a run for their money! The film transports us back to 2014 to trace the lives of three women:

The wise, elderly domestic worker Monika (essayed by Moulika Midde) whose secret passion is chess!

Monika – the silent killer! She makes the most astute of moves by saying only a few words! At the beginning of a movie we see Tiwariji ( a local hindu leader whose aim is to protect the hindu girls), rebuking a young little girl for playing against Sonu (a boy from upper caste). Tiwariji stops the game because the little girl hails from a lower caste. After asking the little girl to leave Tiwariji takes up her place and plays against Sonu. Monika, who was going for her work and sees this happening in front of her eyes, makes sure that Tiwariji does not get the satisfaction of a game as well. She asks Sonu to go back home on the pretext that some work is required to be done. Tiwariji is left opponent-less. A fitting tit for tat. You are certain to smile at this perfectly timed move! (see picture below). 


Monika's silent presence in the grand finale where she savours the victory of her ward, Majid over Tiwariji – Majid bowing to her and presenting a Paan to her mentor and seeking blessings, is a picture to behold.

Lata - the spirited Hindu young woman from a backward class, Lata who works as a sweeper and is in love with Majid – a muslim boy – who is ultimately crowned as the ‘Champion’ of Chakki Chauraha by beating the seasoned Tiwariji

Lata’s acquaintance to Majid does not go down well with her younger brother, who arranges a meeting with a prospective groom for their caste without the knowledge of the former. However, Lata is adamant and tells her brother that people who are instigating him will not even care to come to the wedding. In the same vein she also clears the doubt of her fellow workers regarding Majid.  Lata, with the help of another chess player, Purnima, takes the task of helping her friend in a similar interfaith relationship as hers. The chemistry between Lata and Majid is also one of the high-points of the film.

Neelima – a highly educated former journalist (who also loves chess!) is bogged down by her dominant husband Varun

Varun does not feel it necessary to inform his wife about drawing a large amount from their joint bank account nor has any remorse to such act. This weak character of Neelima is suddenly able to find its strength when Monika helps her with story of Lata’s friend which not only revives her career but also breaks the shackles of her controlling husband.


The championship and the story of these 3-women – who indeed have weakness but also an invincible energy of strength, merge with perfect blend in Turup.


Currently the movie is free to stream online in the ‘Viewing Room’ set up by the organisers of the Dharamshala International Film Festival or you can see it by clicking play on the video below. I urge you not to miss the opportunity of seeing this movie.

Music and songs

For those who love music, the soundtrack of Turup is simply amazing! Based on Sant Kabir’s bhajans and dohas, It features three (four) songs beautifully sung by Sangeeta Lahiri Shrivastav and Devnarayan Saroliya which has been inspired by Shafi Fakir and Fariduddin Ayaz – the cult singers from Pakistan!

Anhad Ka Baja – (sung by Sangeeta Lahiri Shrivastav):
Ajab Sheher Mein sung by Prahlad Tipaniya (sung in movie by Devnarayan Sarolia)
Maula, Maula Lakh Pukare – sung by Farid Ayaz & Abu Muhamad ((Sung in movie by Sangeet Lahiri Shrivastav)
Bhala Hua Mori Gagri Phooti sung by Farid Ayaz & Abu Muhamad (Sung in movie by Sangeeta Lahiri Shrivastav)

Chakki Chauraha Championship

Having discussed the film at length, let us now focus on the chess championship of Chakki Chauraha! The tournament at Chakki Chauraha is an 8-player knock-out event with the mentor of many a players, Tiwariji favoured to win without any fight! As expected, Tiwariji stream rolls to win all his matches and so does Majid! The climax of the movie is the final match between Majid and Tiwariji where the latter allows Majid to play with the white pieces – why? – for the simple reason of his supremacy. And, what do we see? The underdog, whom everybody expected to be crushed within few moves, creates magic – he launches the famous Keres attack in the Sicilian and follows up with a Knight sacrifice on f5!

Majid (left) sacrifices his knight on f5 against Tiwariji in the crucial final round encounter

The first piece is sacrificed on f5!

Another piece is thrown into the fire!

We now have a standard question after Black’s 30th move: White to play and win! The answer is easy to guess!! 30.Rxc8 - winning back the material.

Anand continued for few more moves and threw in the towel at move 34. Wait! You will scream at me - you should have written Tiwariji – yes, I agree! Tiwariji in the movie and Anand in the actual game!


From the perspective of a chess player, the games featured in the movie are actual games played by great masters, which means the renowned script writers, Rinchin and Maheen Mirza have lent authenticity to the players of Chakki Chauraha!


Well, then who was opponent? Do not open the Mega Database or go online to search! 


Here is the clue: The title of this article should make it easy for you to judge the answer – WOMEN TURUPS MEN!! Send your answers to ChessBase India ( by 3rd of May. I will be happy to present one lucky winner my set of 7-books duly autographed!

Praful Zaveri, the author of this article, with his critically acclaimed books named the Chess Course!
Praful Zaveri explains the contents of Chess Course

About the author:

FI Praful Zaveri is the founder of Indian Chess School Academy. He is a popular trainer in Mumbai and also the author of the critically acclaimed beginners' manual 'The Chess Course'. His vision is to build the chess culture in his hometown Mumbai as well as India and help the country produce many more grandmasters in future. The IIFLW chess festival is his brainchild.

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