Jan 282006

Last evening SR,SK and I played hookey from work to go and see Rang De Basanti. One of the few films in recent times that completely struck a chord with me. And by the sounds of it – the audience as well. One of the few times one could see a movie in complete silence – no mobiles rang. The audience laughed, winced, sniffed almost synchronistically! The story is a coming of age and conciousness of a bunch of lotus eaters – Aamir Khan (DJ), Kunal Kapoor (Aslam), Sidarth (Karan), Sharman Joshi (Sukhi)- into whose life comes a Hindi speaking Brit Documentary film maker Sue (Alice Patten)- Her teri maa ki aankh had the audience in stitches, and it was so pat & perfect. Sue’s grand father served in British India. He was to jailer to Bhagat Singh & his friends.And his diary recounts his attempts at breaking his prisoners, which leaves them stronger and him broken. Sue’s documentary is the story of her grandfather and his memories of these young men who died for their ideals. Sue’s friend in India Sonia (Soha Ali Khan) – who is a part of the Lotus Eater Group. Sue’s first interaction with group ends with a confrontation with an unnamed righting group – let by Lakshman Pandey (Atul Kulkarni). On the periphery of the group is Flt.Lt. Ajay Rathod ( a very well fed Madhavan), the love of Sonia’s life. Sue cannot fathom why the Gen Next of India doesn’t care a damn about its dead freedom fighters. or about doing something for their country. The film maker in her casts them in the roles of Chandrashekar Azad, Bhaghat Singh and co. And in doing so she changes their destiny. The film flits between Sue’s interaction with DJ & co, and her making of the documentary – telling the story of her grandfather, Chandrashekar Azad, Bhagat Singh and co. At first the content is a bunch of words that have no relavence. It is difficult for the amateur actors to relate to them, remember them, and deliver them with impact. However, as the documentary progresses, the words begin getting more personal. Enacting the roles of those with ideals seems to imbibe the lot with more than ideals. It imbibes them with resolve and steadfastness to see out a course of action.

The movie is set in a period where India is ruled by a saffron government – that is aided effectively by saffron rabble rousers – that is as corrupt as another government is. This government is not quite averse to the idea to disperse a peace gathering with lathi charges and more (a reflection of Jallianwallah Bagh), nor is it averse to the idea of going in for pitched battles that remind one more of Waco than of Delhi. It is when Rahore dies in a Mig crash – and the Defence Minister labels it as irresponsible flying and orders for a lathi charge of a remembrance ceremony that matters come to a head. I loved the film. Am going to see it again next week. The writing was fantastic. The language contemporary – a heady mix of Punjabi, Hindi and English – more Dilliah than Mumbayaah (i am guessing). And Binod Pradhan has shot India amazingly well. The acting is great – all the main actors managed to slip into their characters with more than ease – they breathed life into them. The director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra has done a brilliant job in crafting the film. The way the parallel narratives gel together seamlessly is quite amazing. I really didn’t like the music too much. But, it wasn’t quite as bad as some of Rehman’s other recent offerings. If you are going to see only one film this year – then Rang de Basanti should probably be it.


Rang de Basanti

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