Friday, February 17, 2006

Rang De Basanti

After seeing scores of trailers and listening to folks going goo-gaas over Kunal Kapoor, I finally got my turn to watch the much awaited Rang De Basanti. Credits for making this happen goes to Tza Tza who booked tickets for her hostel pals and called us (AFJ, Wendy and Me) to confirm our participation in this awesome venture. We pounced on the opportunity and had a great time bawling our lungs out, except for Wendy who was busy filling her tummy with steamed corn. The film is targeted at the youth urging them to take matters into their own hands and fight for a cause. Rang De Basanti is based on a true life incident of a pilot's death (Ajay Rathod) following the crash of his MIG fighter jet. It is believed that the government's indifference is responsible for the crash. It is alleged that the jet's parts are defective. However the former turns around and squarely places the blame on the pilot's capabilites. As expected, the film was embroiled in a controversy with the government and then with human rights activists for the alleged misuse of horses. Inspite of the stormy start, the film was finally released albeit a couple of scenes were edited. Another surprise that I discovered at the theatre was that there are two versions to the movie: where Alice Payton speaks in English and yet another version, where she speaks in Hindi. I watched the latter one. Honestly, the non-desi lines could have been retained in english.
An English woman inspired by her grandfather's accounts of the struggle for freedom by prominent Indian revolutionaries, (Chandrasekhar Azad, Bhagat Singh, and others) decides to travel to India to make a documentary. She is refused grant for her project in the UK and decides to make the movie on her own. Her friend played by Soha Ali Khan who is in India, encourages her and offers to help Sue in the making of the movie. The setting is an university campus in Delhi where Soha is studying. After scores of failed auditions, Soha takes a frustrated Sue to meet her group of friends, DJ alias Diljeet (Aamir Khan), Aslam (Kunal Kapoor), Karan(Siddharth) and Sukh(Sharman Joshi). A bunch of carefree guys whose life do not have any direction takes a turn when Sue convinces them to play the parts of the freedom fighters, and a parallel tragedy takes place influencing them to act. Taken in awe by Atul Kulkarni's rendition(Laxman Pandey) of the lines, Sue ropes him for the role in the documentary. Kulkarni who plays the role of a die-hard Hindu, (utterly disgusted by the immoral youth) who belives that Muslims are traitors, and is a loyal follower of his party, is hated by the group and frequently runs into problems with Aslam and the others. However, all this changes when Soha's fiance, Ajay Rathod (Maddie), who is a part of the gang, dies in an air-crash. The entire bunch is torn apart by his sudden death and are further infuriated by the government's callousness. They go on strike and are lathi-charged by the police. For Atul, it is an eye-opener, and this scene has been powerfully portrayed in the movie. A surge of nationalistic flavour induces the group to kill those who are responsible for their friend's death. Mohan Agashe who plays a corrupt politician and Anuphan Kher, a cold-blooded businessman, who is also Siddharth's father, are killed. The end is quite bizarre and very different. The final scene takes place in a radio station. Siddharth confesses to the killings and justifies why he did it. What follows is a question and answer session amidst the sounds of guns and bloodshed.
Rehman's compostions are simply mindblowing and the cinematography is excellent. The theme is bold and certainly deserves a thumbs-up for its objective, that of encouraging the youth to wake up and act. Rang De Basanti seemed less like a movie and more like a filmi-documentary. AFJ seemed to think that it was a good masala movie with a message. The movie had all the ingredients to make it watchable. A touch of Dil Chahtai Hai combined with patriotism has worked well for the movie. Though Aamir was the USP for the marketeers, it was infact Siddharth who had a prominent role to play. The young man assayed his part extremely well. His cool calm demeanour of a poor little rich boy who finally kills his corrupt businessman-father was brilliant. But he could certainly have gone a little easy on the smoking bit. The overall packaging, demins, cooolers and a cigarette was attractive. Aslam, played by Kunal Kapoor had pretty much no role in the movie. However I would credit him for his good looks, disarming smile and those dreamy eyes are guaranteed to make you fall in love with him. A well-cultivated voice and great potential, here is an actor whose skills should be exploited to the maximum. Soha Ali Khan is also an actor to watch out for. Maddie (Madhavan), gave a disappointing performance. As Soha's fiancee, the actor was very stiff and devoid of any romantic charm that his character required. Sukhi by far gave the most enjoyable performance in the whole lot. Atul Kulkarni needs no introduction,he is a class apart from the rest. Powerful eyes, definite features and a strong voice combined with his innate histrionic skills breathes success for this actor whereever he goes. Kiron Kher as Diljeet's mom, was fun to watch. It was good to see Om Puri on screen although briefly. Aamir Khan looked the oldest in the lot, although he is supposed to pass off for a 26yr old who has remained on the university premises for more than five years since he graduated. Maybe the casting director should pay attention to such details, although minor do not go unnoticed. Aamir's tapori performance and tush-shaking was impressive. Ofcourse, lip-locking with Sue is part of the Aamir deal. No one is complaining, he is afterall a good kisser.
As a member of the audience, I am very curious to understand a movie through the director's eye. This is what Sue experiences when she finds each of her character in Aaamir, Kunal and others. You can feel her mind working out the parts and the pieces in the puzzle falling into place. When I see a good movie, the first thought that hits me is the choice of actors for the parts. They seem perfect and makes you feel that no one else would have fit the bill. I find that amazing! How do you know who is best for which role? Is it instinctive? Is it experience? or can a good director make even the inconspicous of men shine on the screen? The weaving of the past and the present and its final impact on the future was excellent. However the message urging the youth to take matters into their own hands is questionable. Is termination the only answer? It reminds me of a scene from Viruddh, where Amitabh Bachan, an honest family man, who loses his son, kills the man responsible for his son's death beacuse he is unable to fight the system. The means to the end is not every encouraging. The end objective is seeking justice, but is killing the answer?
Neverthelss Rang De Basanti is worth your penny although I will watch it again only for its music and picturisation.


Rita said...

Woo hoo! Finally the RDB post, huh? Okay, I am going to read it and come back! :D

sanchapanzo said...

Sidharth was trying to be uber-cool :(

Thought this superimposing faces of freedom fighters with this young guns, as picturised nicely.
Connecting Jallian Wala Bagh, Simon Commission and Lahore Conspiracy was super-work!

I think the director was imaginative enough to include that bottled mud from Jallian Wala Bagh, Bhagat Singh as a kid in Jallian Wala Bagh, all young freedom fighters protecting Lala Lajpat Rai during Simon Commission. Dont think all these sequences included these young freedom fighters, but think it was pure genious to imaginatively link all these three chapters.

Rohit Talwar said...

Its an awesome movie! One of the most amazing movies I've seen in the recent years.. I'm going to go for it again!

Atul Sabnis said...

soon, i will be the only one in the world who hasnt seen the film :(

aquamarine said...

Rita, still waiing to hear from u:)

Sanchapanzo, yeah.Sid was trying to be *COOl*....gawd..yeha, the creative dept gets ten stars. The theme is good. Look forward to watching meaningful cinema in the long run.

Rohit, yupppp!!!! Pleasant one.

Atul, Hang in there mate. I'm sure u'll soon join the rest of us..u sure do stand out in a crowd;) nice naaaa...:)))

Rita said...

Present, ma'am! Here I am!
Well, I was not aware that the movie had two versions - Hindi and English. Thanks
I agree that the music and cinematography were mindlowing.
BTW, what's with Wendy, filling her tummy with corn? :O