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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blah_blah_blogger said...

Hey...how did your attempt at writing a novel go?

Praveen said...

Hey Neil, this is a great review and thanks for posting it, since I was looking for the review of the film and couldnt find one as yet, so probably you are the first to write it.

I hope to see it soon being a huge Aamir fan myself.

silverine said...

Neil, this is such a well written review that I'd rather read the whole story here than go and watch the movie. Believe me when I say that now, Hindi-movie hating me would really like to see this movie.

ramesh said...

hi neil,

to b true i've b come a fan of urs i mean ur reviews.keep writing da.

Arvind Saba said...

Good stuff dude! U have added income to the producers of the movie. I am going to watch it! ;)

Sachin said...

Dude, I saw the movie and was impressed by the brilliance put up by all...

"beau ideal" is the word...

sathish said...

Its so bad of you to let out the story.
Secondly, in Ayutha Ezhutu (Yuva in Hind) Mani Ratnam depicted same story without youth taking to arms. Its wrong on part of director to show youth going for kill when things are going wrong. Killing is not the solution. One should wipe out corruption but not by killing the corrupt.

Abhishek said...

Great job buddy and the MOVIE ROCKS .... Though youth shouldn't take arms in their hands but then one can't rule out the possibility of a group of friends going to such extents in real life even.... so i'll say a nice ending which will take time (or even won't) to sync in with all the people....

the Monk said...

good review,man...will definitely watch it...

sandeep said...

It was another great experience with you. First time with you but I'll remember it for life time. A damn good movie...friend and you made it more special by writing a systematic and endearing review. I love your expressions and this time I also enumerated my views on a movie in my blog. I'll wait for next Aamir Khan's movie...than we'll again go together. Keep writing...your wellwisher friend

Neil Padayatty said...

@blah_blah_blogger - I'll be dedicating a post to that. It's progressing, though not always, as planned.
@praveen - Thanks!
@silverine - Well, thank you! But, do go watch it! It's not a run of the mill Bollywood film.
@ramesh - Do a favour and watch the film!
@arvind saba - I guess so... My review was meant for just that effect. It's a movie I liked very much. And if you guys would see it, then I'll be happy that I did my part in saving one good movie from fading into oblivion. But as far as RDB is concerned, it looks like most of the people who watched it, liked it!
@sachin - I'm glad you approve.
@sathish - I think you are mistaken. I didn't narrate the whole story. *** In Yuva, the students beat up Lallan's brother and his goons. That's also violence. *** But, I'm also not for the violence as solution theme. But despite that, the film is wonderful and extremely succesfull if it made you want to protest the message.
@abhishek - You're probably right. But the majority reaction at my college is for the movie.
@the monk - Thanks.
@sandeep - Same emotions here, about going to the movies with you. It's feels good when somebody else also has similar opinions on the movie. I like that about discussing movies with you. Didn't you als think Aks was a good film?

the_new_cloud said...

Moi a first timer here..
Came through google searching for RDB fans...
BOy the movie rocks...
And a very good review of yours..

Angel said...

Just got back after watching it, and I must say, it's very inspiring and I was really touched...

It made me wanna scream and go out there and do something!!!

Thanks for the recommendation! :)

Mind Curry said...

hi neil, great review..i have not yet watched the movie, but will definitely do so this weekend. had seen the previews and the RDB crews interaction with the youth on NDTV and got overwhelmed. and hey, lovely blog you got here. cheer loyola's son! from another proud loyolite!

Vaibhav said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Vaibhav said...

I agree that the movie is good and high on entertainment value. I also agree that even though the message conveyed by the movie was wrong, it does succeed in making us think that if killing is not the solution that what is?

I think the basic differnce in Yuva and RDB was that Yuva encouraged us to enter the political system to clean it. It showed us that the constitution empowers us to do something that can never be achieved through a gun. I feel sorry for the 5 students in the movie because they had they wasted there life for nothing.


k kumar said...

hi Neil I used to read your blog on regular basis, but this time I m disappointed and not agree with your thought on movie.how can one think that merely killing a politician can change our system, I do accept that this is not the GANDHIAN era of nonvoilence but it doesn't mean that we youth may lift weapon to clean our society. Yuva had a better opinion on uncertain young mentality finaly converging into politics to change the system bieng in the system.
If you have given RDB 5 out of 5 may I ask you a question, what would you prefer to make our nation worth, go in politics like YUVA or you will solve problem with weapons like RDB choice is yours and you must reply I m waiting..........

Shobhit said...

Hi there!

I dont know how to begin penning, but perhaps the term 'CORRUPTION' is
not new to any of us. We keep battling it everywhere and anywhere from
trains to sarkari systems..and the experienced advice to battle it has
been only , s'S's ...sulkuccumb, or sleep for its part of system and
we have to take it. But a few decide to 'Shout or Scream'. We do not
know whether these few are winners or loosers but certainly they have
some 'Substance' to do it.

if you have seen movie Rang de Basanti or even if you have not seen it
but have decided to make a difference in the system. Then please click
to the web link below and find THE TRUTH behind the curtains. Post a
comment if you share the same patriotism.



Anand K said...

There's a point raised by kanti Bajpai in his Outlook article about the brand of thought peddled in RDB. The young men take to arms right after the their attempt at a peaceful protest is broken up by the police. It's like jumping several levels up, literally doing an overkill.... most youth simply can't stomach the idea of doing the long hard slog to chang the system. they want "one size fits all" and 2 minute solutions. Moreover, this yuppie "Dil Chahtha Hai" generation who thinks India began in the post 1991 boom and are oblivious to the homework and the bearfight behind all that jazz are shown to be perfect and 400% "bulletproof" to lead the nation's awakening.

Reminds me of a generation further back than Bismil's and Ashfaqula Khan (who were a part of the 2nd Revolutionary Wave).... Rather than take the careful, well thought out plan for national movement by incorporating the masses and grassroot work, some young men (with excellent intentions though, I may add) try to change the system by shooting up a handful of British officers. Look where they ended? Wasn't it a very skewed negative sum thing? Compare it to the quiet, monumental infrastructure, financial, strategic and ideological buildup by the mainstream under Gandhiji from 1917.... It took us 30 yrs to get Modern India. Not in an orgy of blood or a revolutionary warning shot.

Things don't change like that..... not in a flash bang revolution.The Def Minister who was assassinated will most probably be replaced by a worse appartchik.

BTW, my friends think I am a creature of the system and a "dinosaur" for these views. ;) Anyway, as a movie it is quite good....even though i totally disagree with the consumer politics of this flick.