Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Review of 'Rang De Basanti'

I live in good times – I have a good job, I own a house and I can afford vacations abroad. All this before I am 27. Things my parents, who were in their 20s during the Emergency, could not have dreamt of at that age. Things that my grandparents, in their 20s at the time of the Freedom struggle, could not have dreamt of ever. And I have not even had to fight to be in this place. The new middle class Indian dream is to be a professional with a degree from a decent sounding university and count the money rolling in. So when there is no apparent need for a revolution in my time, how can a movie about changing the system even touch a chord? Maybe it is because we are not even aware that there is a system out there that requires changing? Perhaps in bringing that awareness is where the victory of ‘Rang De Basanti’ lies.

The movie starts off with Sue, the granddaughter of a Britisher who was an officer at the time of the colonial rule, coming to India to make a documentary on freedom fighters. Aamir Khan and company act in her documentary and in the process relearn the sacrifices that the Freedom fighters had to make. When calamity strikes in their little world, instead of the usual ‘Chalta Hai’ attitude they decide to fight back.

There are several good things about the movie. For one, it is not a paean to Aamir Khan – he is just one of the gang. Everyone in the movie actually acts. The women are not bimbos meant for song and dance purposes. The songs are not forced into the movie. Sue speaking in Hindi does not sound contrived at most times. More importantly, the movie manages to give the audience lessons in history without putting them to sleep. The movie not just manages to address nationalism, but also weaves in the traditionalist –modernist gap, the Hindu-Muslim gap skillfully.

The movie does have its faults. For one, it is too simplistic. And the events that happen after the turning point seem too sudden after the initial relaxed pace of the movie. But for all this, does it make you think about where this country is headed and what you, as a citizen, should be doing? Yes, it does. I guess that is reason enough to go and watch the movie.

Anita B.

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