Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Rang de Basanti

Warning: Plot spoilers follow.Saw the much-awaited Rang de Basanti a couple of days back; enjoyed it. The first half is particularly fresh and appealing. The director has to be congratulated for capturing the chemistry among all the lead characters and keeping the pace going with all the tomfoolery that they indulge in.
Sue is a British filmmaker who wants to recreate the events from her grandfather’s diary, which was written while he served in India. She comes to Delhi looking for the perfect actors to play her characters. However, many hilarious and failed attempts later, she turns to our carefree young Delhi University posse to step in. This posse consists of DJ, Sukhi, Aslam, Karan and Sonia. They are later joined by Laxman, a political worker with a fundamentalist Hindu mindset but filled with patriotic fervor and idealism.
Once they start playing the roles of Chandrashekhar Azad and other revolutionaries of the Indian freedom struggle, the youngsters gradually find that their cynicism and apathy have started to erode. The death of their friend IAF Flt. Lt. Ajay Rathod, Sonia’s fiancé, due to alleged cheap parts used in his MiG as part of a shady defense deal, is the catalyst that turns all their lives upside down.
This is when the movie takes a turn for the serious, with the youths plotting their own drastic way of calling attention to the rot and corruption in current Indian politics by staging a dramatic assassination. Finding that this too, has somehow come to naught in the hypocritical political climate, they then decide to turn themselves over to the law, but not before trying to ensure that their message gets across. This they achieve by taking over the All India Radio station, guns and all, and speaking to the nation, live.
The juxtaposition of the present with the doings of the freedom fighters in Sue's grandfather's diary adds depth and context to the youngsters' motivation, with sepia overtones and powerful recreations of the freedom struggle. The dream sequence with the Defence Minister in place of General Dyer in Jalianwala Bagh, in particular, stands out.
Events follow each other at a breakneck pace, with Sue being left out of it all. Presumably, this is to ensure that she stays out of trouble, etc., but still, wouldn’t the rest of them at least have wanted to let her know what was going on? It is then revealed that Karan, the son of the wheeler-dealer who is partly responsible for the ghotala in the buying of faulty MiG parts, has killed his father, Rajnath Singhania. Eh? I had difficulty digesting this.
And how did the audience know that Singhania was Karan’s father? This was not announced until later by DJ. ?)

Before the end credits, a somber note about the number of MiG pilots killed is flashed across the screen, but I would have appreciated a more in-depth look at these numbers. What are we supposed to infer from a statement saying 206 MiG pilots were killed in crashes in X number of years? How many were killed in wars? What conclusions were drawn after each of these crashes? If you are basing your film on this premise, then at least let the audience know a little more about it.
Still, despite these quibbles, it is certainly a film to watch. A great break from clichéd offerings about dosti and pyaar, or worse, the new genre of risqué (please) comedies.
Aamir Khan, despite his crow’s feet, does a fine job as DJ. The rest of the cast is excellent, with great turns by Waheeda Rehman, Kiron Kher and Om Puri. The toothy Madhavan as Ajay Rathod is appropriately dashing.The other youngsters are all great, and the characters are well-written and appealing. A.R. Rehman also does a wonderful job with the music. Watch Rang de Basanti, it’s a well-made film you will in all likelihood, enjoy.

3 comments:

Vinesh said...

Hey,

Nice, "spoilt" review :-)

I enjoyed the movie as much as was possible without understanding the dialogues..

P.S: There was a scene where Karan stands and talks to his father Rajnath Singhania, grudgingly.. and slinks off when father gets a call on his mobile..

I understood then that they were father-son..?

devikamenon said...

Hi Vinesh,
Thanks for stopping by!
By "audience" I meant the radio audience in the film...guess that wasn't clear.

Geminian said...

Excellent review d. This is a fantastic movie and deserves all the rating and applause. A R Rahman Rocks the movie, Meenaxi HIS masterpiece in recent past which went unnoticed by the most.

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