Jan 25, 2006

Me and A Generation Awakens for Rang De Basanti

Just back from the First Day First Show of 'Rang De Basanti'. You know the 5:30am show, that's the only good thing about Raipur. After the Mangal Pandey, it was a near empty first show for Aamir Khan's 'Rang De Basanti'. Sherin, Sandeep and I, had a whole row of seats to ourselves and the row just in front to rest our legs. A cold morning at the Anand Talkies, with none of the festivities associated with the release of an Aamir Khan movie. But here's my review...

Sue (Alice Patten), an English film-maker, inspired by her grandfather's experience as jailer to the great Indian Revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh and Chandrashekhar Azad, wants to make a documentary on the great Indian revolutionaries. But the story being too alien to her British financiers, she's not provided funds.
Sue, however, decides to go ahead and make the film. She reaches India, where her friend Sonia (Soha Ali Khan), and her friends, all students of DU, agree to act as the revolutionaries for the documentary. The carefree bunch, representing our generation, till then has been doing nothing more than partying every night, racing their bikes and being indifferent to a reality they were required to awaken to. They, with a bit of egging by Sue and Sonia, finally get into the groove for acting out the great revolutionaries. Before I go further, let me introduce the group.
DJ (Aamir Khan), though it is 5 years since he passed out from college, still hangs around because he feels at ease there. A swell guy, he's the life of the partying friends.
Aslam (Kunal Kapoor) is a poor boy, who finds his heart in this group of uncertain souls living life by the moment.
Sukhi (Sharman joshi) is the fun guy, always joking, and making everybody laugh.
Karan (Sidharth of Boys, Aayudha Ezhuthu fame), is a rich kid, who shares an uneasy relationship with his unscrupulous businessman of a father (Anupam Kher).
Ajay (Madhavan in an important guest role) is Sonia's lover and an Air Force Pilot, whom everybody in the group adores.
Laxman Pandey (Atul Kulkarni), is a saffron idealogue, with a growing reputation within the party in power, whose relationship with the rest of the group, though at loggerheads, takes a turn for good, once he too becomes part of the documentary crew.

Except Ajay, Laxman, and Sonia, the rest of the guys, are disillusioned with India, with no hope for it's future. They don't do anything about it other than making cynical comments about all things Indian, and dreaming of leaving India as soon as their education gets over. But once, they are initiated into the documentary, they transform taking inspiration from the characters of the revolutionaries they play in the documentary.

Imbibing the spirit of Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad and the likes, they slowly awaken from the cynical slumber they'd been in so far. It is at this point that Ajay dies in a MiG crash. The Defence Minister, puts the blame on Ajay's adventurous flying, and shirks his responsibility for the faulty MiGs. The whole bunch and Ajay's mother, decide to protest the injustice done to Ajay's name and many other soldiers who have laid their lives for the nation. The government orders the peaceful candle-bearing protestors to be lathi charged. This is the turning point for the group. It'd be a spoiler if I go any further. Because I want you all to watch this movie.

The acting performaces are all great. Aamir is his usual best. The rest of the crew all do their part to convince us of how they're just youth like the rest of us, taking all things lightly, not giving serious thought to their realities and quite sure that they couldn't do anything to change things. But I'd make special mention of Sidharth in his role as Karan, the rich-boy detatched, who really steals the show. He outshines even Aamir. It seems he's the hero, if you need me to pin point one. He's done a convincing portrayal of a troubled young man, who doesn't have much hope for anything, until the last moment when he realises what his role is. Soha Ali Khan's performance is quite surprising after her previous film role. Alice Patten, must really be congratulated for her good Hindi, and of course, good acting. Kunal Kapoor with his mild-mannered look and Sharman Joshi, comedian, are also good. Atul Kulkarni, as can be expected is class.

I'm sorry for all those souls who didn't awaken with me when the genration awoke this morning. This movie is a must watch. It's a film with a message though. Where Mani Ratnam with his Yuva failed, Rakesh Mehra, has come trumps with this truly landmark film. The direction is superb and the story truly unique. The screenplay is great, in that it effectively weaves together different themes including, today's indifferent youth who do not care if their nation goes to the dogs, the revolutionaries of the Independence movement, the corruption in politics and how the youth can change things if they did their bit. The switching between the Bhagat Singh story and the present story, to convey the similarities of the eras is successfully done.

One remembers the Bhagat Singh overkill of movies a few years back. All those movies told the stories of the revolutionaries. But they were fairy tales which had no relation to the contemporary youth or India. Their stories were unique to their time. So we thought after seeing those movies. I even used to fancy how it would have been nice if we could be in that generation and have fought like Bhagat Singh did. But I never imagined that a revolution was possible in this era, when we were being ruled by our own elected representatives. But this film shows how the situation is no different, though the players have changed.

Of special mention is an exceptional sequence where, the Jallianwala Masacre is shown, and suddenly General Dwyer, the infamous villain, is replaced by the guilty Defence Minister, who orders the police force to fire at Ajay, the fighter pilot is shown walking towards the firing policemen, smiling, and when he gets hit, says something about his jacket getting torn. That's a satirical look at how things haven't changed. A classic sequence indeed.

Having watched the film one realises, that the revolutionary spirit, that is the legacy of our Independece movement, still lives in the youth, and that it only needs to be awakened for the face of India to be changed.

Padayatty Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Well, what are you waiting for? Go watch 'Rang De Basanti'! Be A Rebel!!!

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