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88%
4.23 

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For the love of cinema
Jan 27, 2006 11:09 AM 5655 Views
(Updated Jan 27, 2006 11:10 AM)

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Talk about Hindi cinema getting mature, in the past patriotic movies tended to get overtly jingoistic and at times overbearing, but now a reversal seems to have set in with a slew of patriotism laced movies like Swades, Hazaron Khwahishen Aisi and the latest entry in that list is Rang De Basanti (RDB). Now patriotism is not that typical Angrejo Bharat Chodo rhetoric rather its more subtle and at times works as the backdrop of the plot but its there all the time for you to see and feel. This brand of patriotism and neo-jingoism appeals to the youth of today, most of whom might not even know the names of most of the freedom fighters leave alone know the importance of their work and contributions.


Scene opens in a damp dimly lit cell a man (Atul Kulkarni) reciting his shlokas as he takes his bath, screen fades away.


London Circa 2002 A.D. scenes of the Thames river then the camera rolls over to a plush offices where some firangs (english) are having a tête-à-tête with Sue McKinley (Alice Patten) who tries to convince them of her passion to make a documentary on the Indian revolutionaries fighting the British might, where she faces rejection, she walks out determined to pursue her story with a ridiculing Tumhari Maa Ki Aankh in the face of her job and bosses, screen fades away.


Then ensues her journey to India, her struggles to find her Bhagat Singh, Chandrasekhar Azad, Ramprasad Bismil, Durga Bhabhi et al and her discoveries and subsequent falling in love with India. After numerous and frustrating auditions she finally finds her cast in a lukkha gang of Delhi University students, DJ (Aamir Khan), Karan (Siddharth), Sukhi (Sharman Joshi), Aslam (Kunal Kapoor) and Soniya (Soha Ali Khan). Her problem is that these guys are oblivious and sometimes strongly against any notions of Indian ness and patriotism, they are the youth of today, for whom such lofty notions exist only in textbooks. As the plot reveals itself they start feeling for the cause and the roles that they are to enact, and then ensues a wonderful back and forth blending of the past and the present with wonderful cameo roles by Mitro (Kirron Kher) as DJ’s mother, Mr. Singhania (Anupam Kher) as Karan’s dad, Aslam’s father (Om Puri) and Ajay’s mom (Waheeda Rehman).


The movie has a super blending of the past and the present, the story of the revolutionaries in a sepia-tinted hue reminiscent of the bygone days of lore and the present joyous carefree gay abandon life of the youthful bunch of friends in vibrant and striking colors. The movie is a fine concoction of bindaas, care a damn for the world attitude of the lukkha gang and the other which is on a higher plane, a plane of sacrifice, patriotism, devotion and unflinching faith in their cause and dogged loyalty, which is the plane of the revolutionaries.


The first half of the movie is fun filled with the night outs of the gang, their college life and their generation X carefree mentality. While the second half gets serious and more matter of fact with the plane crash of their friend, air force pilot Ajay Rahode (Madhavan). What ensues is a gripping comparison/parallels between the past and the present, which the director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra has drawn as, the story travels back and forth in time and space and the subsequent assassination of the defense minister (Mohan Aghashe) by the gang. After which the movie takes a rather idealistic turn with their capture of the radio station and their voicing of their ideas and views to jostle the masses from their slumber and prick their conscience to come out of their lives and make a contribution to the cause of the nation. The climax is a let down of sorts, as too much bloodshed and dramatization was like the spoiling crescendo of a concert reaching its peak.


Performances Aamir as DJ is amazing with his comic timing and his nonchalant Punjabi dialect, its amazing how he manages to bring in so much freshness to each of the characters he does. Soha is surprisingly efficient and minimal in her role as Soniya, while Sharman as Sukhi turns in a youthful and innocent performance, Karan with his Ray bans and cigarettes is cool dude personified and his couldn’t care a damn about the country mindset being a revelation of sorts, Aslam is loveable as the poetic painter, Atul Kulkarni seems to have grown tremendously as an actor and he packs a punch here. Alice as the hinglish speaking documentary maker is fresh and sweet, and her dialogue delivery is bound to ruffle a heart or two. Cameos by Kirron Kher, Waheeda Rehman and Om Puri gel wonderfully with the plot and helps in moving the story forward.


Technical Team the direction of Rakesh is top notch to state the obvious, he has an eye for detail and a story telling gift with the mind of a lover who is possessed with his work and it shows in the movie. Dialogues by Prasoon Joshi and Rensil D Silva are fresh and the use of Punjabi and Haryanawi dialect is quite catchy and witty. Cinematography by Binod Pradhan is outstanding. He captures Delhi beautifully while his works on the shots of the revolutionaries is state of the art. Stunts by Allan Amin are just about okay. Visual effects by Pankaj Khandpur are of the top draw. A.R.Rehman has redeemed himself with his music after Mangal Pandey. Some of the songs are mind blowing and when you listen to them in the context of the movie they rankle in your heart. Prasoon has come a long way as a lyricist; his songs are catchy and very meaningful.


Slip ups The movie could have been better as there are some loose ends. The story moves back and forth between the present the flash back too often, sometimes confusing the viewer. The climax could have been handled in a better way to portray hope and genuineness, while the pace of the movie is another issue which has been allowed to slag way too often to the liking of the audiences. Somewhere in the middle the director seemed to have lost it only to get back into saddle after the death of Madhavan and the ensuing agitation and uprising of sorts. The talents of Om Puri and Anupam Kher have not been utilized. Also there is the typical rhetoric punctuating the movie here and there, the Muslims not being part of India sequence or the VHP inspired anti-western culture subplot or the typical anti-Pak mindset were some of the polemics which could have been done away with.


Final word The movie has shades of idealism, heroism, youthful vigor and honesty, and these are indeed the various colors (rang) of the canvas. It is not your run of the mill entertainer, but it’s a movie which makes you think, one which should be watched for the love of meaningful cinema and for the love of the nation which is sadly turning into a bad dream too soon for our liking. There is a slight preaching tone to it, but thankfully the director doesn’t fall for the trap and make the movie into a documentary, as is the wont with such plots. For the loves of cinema, for Aamir Khan and for much more, do watch this movie, you won’t regret it.


Questions


Do such movies serve the noble purpose that they are intended for, or are they forgotten as just another movie?


Why do movies like Swades, Hazaron Khwahishen Aisi and Yuva get limited to the metros and the multiplex audiences? Why don’t they go on to become commercial successes inspiring other directors to make such bold movies?


Which is the best patriotic movie you have seen and what about it appealed to you?


Do you think any movie that Aamir is part of becomes an Aamir Khan movie and not a director’s or any other actor’s movie?


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