Rang de Basanti (RDB) fills in me a feeling of Triumph, Euphoria, Sincerity, and Pain,Anguish and Heart Stirring Emotions all at the very same time.This is one movie which has left me stirred to the core. I am speechless, totally. For those who haven’t seen, it’s high time to wake up, and buy your tickets or DVD. Now, I am no big movie critic.But in my venture of blogging reviews of movies I had started watching movies from the eye of the maker, eyeing details of the lenses of the filmmaker, hearing every sound, measuring every note. And then , RDB happened. This movie has thrown me back to those days when cinema was completely swallowed by my hungry feasting senses , without a burp.
As I said, I am clueless–Clueless whether I should marvel at the technical finesse and cinematic expertise of the brilliant story-telling , or do I wake up to the stirring story, the spirit of “Saffron“.I do not have any clue where to start from. Rang de Basanti is by far, the most brave movie that has come across in our times, or perhaps in Indian Cinema. Rang de Basanti, is a triumph in all ways imaginable.This review is just not meant to be yet another review about yet another Bollywood movie . I feel, I am dwarfing it by limiting its span by terming it “Bollywood”. It is so different from those patriotic genre movies we have seen (which includes the Manoj Kumar’s school of patriotic cinema displaying jingoistic shades of the tricolor, which at times seemed so unreal). Patriotism as in RDB, is subtle and wonderfully weaved into the narrative. Okay, let’s stop the “taarifon ke pool bandhna” for a while and get on with the review. Because I can just speak volumes about this movie, and how it has affected me, but well, getting back to the review part, lets get started..so Read On..!!!~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
As I started getting cozy in the theatre after the trailers, the reels start rolling, and Aamir Khan utters in the background…
Ab bhi Jo na Khola, Khoon Nahi Woh Paani; Hai Desh Ke Kaam Main Jo Naa Aaya, Bekar Woh Jawaani Hai ..
( Attempt at Translation: The blood that has not started to boil yet is not blood, but its water; The youth that does not serve the nation is completely wasted) It struck a deep chord with me , that this is not yet another flick about happy-go-lucky guys and gals cracking non-veg jokes,drinking beer and doing just plain shit.
The Story—–RDB starts with a Brit-independent film maker Sue(Alice Patten) stalking off her budget-hit job to India to make a film on the young revolutionaries who so impressed her grandfather, a real ‘angrezon ke zamaane ke jailor’, with their calm in the face of imminent death. And next thing we know(not exactly, we get to hear Maa ki Aankh from a Brit’s mouth) she is in the Delhi University, where her friend Sonia(Soha Ali Khan) arranges for her stay and also for the auditioning for the actors, to act in her Movie based on the lives of revolutionaries Azad, Bhagat Singh, Ashfaq-Ullah, and Rajguru et al, based upon the chronicles left by her grandfather–Genr. McKinley. The auditions start rolling. A roll of laughter hits us as we see students doing stuff like “Nanhe Munne Bacchhe tere Mutthhi main Kya hai” , “Kaliyon Ka Chaman”, Nari Shakti Jaagran to “hip-hop Vande Mataram–Jana Gana Mana”. Sue,depressed by the way things were turning out, starts feeling low, when Sonia takes to destress her out …to the “Paathshala”.
And there we go..we meet the effervescent…Mad Circle Gang…the beer drinking , debonair DJ(Aamir Khan) and Sukhi (Sharman Joshi), the filthy rich-spoilt brat-chain smoker Karan( Siddharth) and the creatively inclined, poetic, handsome 6 feet something stud Aslam(Kunal Kapoor). And then Laxman(Atul Kulkarni) arrives…he is one of those guys whom we see with a tilak on the forehead and a saffron scarf, opposing the Western culture invading the Indians, specially the youth–Only difference between him and the others in his gang–He believes in the beliefs..
But, contrary to Sue’s expectations, the youth have no feelings for their country. India is a no-hoper- where corruption is rampant, and nothing can be done to salvage the situation, they believe. They even poke fun at Sue’s attempts to make a film, till they come around. Sue looks with all surprised eyes;Delhi police being bribed and the way the India for which martyrs like Bhagat Singh and Azad had sacrificed their lives, has taken the shape of a gutter filled with the filth of corruption- 60 years after independence. We are exposed to this debate which we all have deep in our hearts somewhere.—Are we proud of our nation?And if we are, what are we proud of? Well of course, we have a deep rooted heritage of revolutionaries who fought against British colonialism to achieve Independence. But have things turned out the right way?(********SPOILERS AHEAD**********)
To this , we have a very strong reply from Sonia’s fiance’ Wing Cdr. Ajay Rathod(Madhavan) —” Koi bhi desh perfect nahi hota, use behtar bana padta hai..“(No country is perfect, we gotta act to make it better and better). Sue pursues the guys to act in her documentary movie, and gets succesful in her pursuit. And then what we see is the blooming and grooming of the minds, the metamorphosis of a bunch of happy-go-lucky kids of yuppiedom, and how they start waking up to the call of Saffron–the beliefs of Bhagat Singh and Azad.As they play the historical characters, their perspective about the present, and their own role in it, changes forever. Which, in a nutshell, is what the movie is about. But still , I wasn’t sure where things were leading to at Intermission point.
Post Interval, in a tragic accident, Ajay dies rescuing a MIG fighter plane. All the nations an uproar on the issue, raising questions of corruption at Defence Ministry. The Defence Minister denies all charges and goes ahead saying that MIG flights are just fine, and they should not be allowed to be piloted by amateur pilots like Ajay. Things take a chaotic turn with Lathi-Charges and Violence on peaceful demonstrators at India Gate. All hell breaks loose, and then we see things rapidly happening—Defence Minister assasinated, Corrupt Arms dealer(Karan’s father) killed by own son,..and then confession time at All India Radio. The climax just shook me and left me numb, out of words. I don’t know how did I feel exactly when I walked out of the theatres, but I did get to hear the review from renowned lyricist Javed Akhtar…and this what he had to say…Khoye Huye Raahon par Barson se Nazar Nahi Gayee..Aaj Kisi ne Us Taraf..Mudke to Dekha (Its been ages since lost ways haven’t been seen..Today, at least someone did see that way).The closing lines before the closing credits started scrolling up will remain one of the most powerful lines of the movie, making an indelible impression on my mind–“I always believed that there were two kinds of men, One who go screaming to their death, and the other who go in silence……And then, I met the third kind.”
The Specially Special Stuff…
There are moments where you just forget everything , and start reacting to the movie mentally–You take part actively in the debates, as if you were asking the questions, or as if the questions were thrown at you. The special editing ..transitions from 21st century to the Raj Days; here’s one word for you-AWESOME!!. Jalianwallah Bagh Massacre..General Dyer; The cinematography.. awesome. Perfect Colour settings,..Okay Fine..I need to heartfully thank the technical guys now…Binod Pradhan..the cinematographer..visual effects Supervisor Brynley Cadman for the amazing visuals..and of course Ronnie Screwvala to have produced the movie, last but not the least hats-off to Mr.Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra.
And now for the credits to the performances…
Truly, in a huge mulitstarrer cast like this, we do expect someone to get the lion’s share and run away with the credits..especially when it is an Aamir Khan movie. But contrary to it, this movie belongs to the story..Three Cheers to the story first and then the performances…
Aamir Khan playing a character much younger than him, with his North Indian Haryanvi accent and dialects, (Behen-de-Takke) and pranks, and of course the ‘Sue-kar Mere Dil ko’ song. But what strikes me the most, is the one scene when he breaks down saying “Sab Kuch bikhra hua hai..aur hum baithke Tamasha dekh rahain Hai“..(Everything is so scattered..and we are sitting down and watching the show) Aamir Khan..you ROCK..\m/!!!
But as I said..its not Aamir alone..Siddharth of Boys’ fame delivers. He is really good, and the surprise package is Sharman Joshi. I never beleived in this guy that he could turn out so good. He is as natural as one could be. Atul Kulkarni , retains his status as a top-notch actor and well Kunal Kapoor..breathe of fresh air. The guy has got some attitude. Watch out Bollywood, this guy has got that something to be the next superstar, and even if he doesn’t care, he is just brilliant. Kirron Kher speaks a million words with just her plain simple silence and beautifully renders the character of Mittro-the Punjabi widow worried about her only son Diljeet.
All in all, the cast……ALL MY THUMBS UP. Of course, Aamir gets into the skin of the character and delivers a knockout performance from start to end, but the film has more gems when it comes to performances: Siddharth [excellent], Atul Kulkarni [fantastic], Soha Ali Khan [a complete revelation; efficient], Kunal Kapoor [natural] and Sharman Joshi [powerful]. Alice Patten is brilliant and besides delivering a flawless performance, her style of speaking Hindi is sure to win a lot of hearts. Madhavan is likeable. Waheeda Rehman is graceful as ever. Both Om Puri and Anupam Kher don’t get much scope. Kiron Kher is exceptional yet again. Mohan Agashe, Steven Mckintosh, K.K. Raina and Lekh Tandon are adequate.
Special thanks to Prasoon Joshi for the very very intense and uplifting heart-wrenching lyrics..especially the title track, Roobaroo and Lukka Chuppi. Dialogues..spellbinding.
Music..AR Rahman…need I say more?
I felt Lukka Chuppi was the best song of the movie.
Now that is a personal opinion, because the way the lyrics flow and the way it was picturised just etched a deep mark on my heart. Khalballi installs in you a deep Arabic Influence with its Awesome Sound..
Roobaroo is very catchy..the lyrics make me feel so happy…
aye saala…. abhi abhi… huaa yaqeen …
ki aag hai …mujh mein kahi…………. hui subaah… main chal gaya ………suraj ko main …nigal gaya….. Ruu-ba-ruu roshni heyy
and Paathshala is so very much a Headbangers Ball.
As for the title track, Rang de Basanti, Daler Paaji just simply rocks..No questions asked.Prasoon Joshi’s recipe of Basanti (Saffron) is reminiscent of Netaji’s speech (Give me Blood, I will give you freedom)
thodisi dhuul meri dharti ki mere watan ki .. .thodisi Khushbuu baurai se mast pavan ki …thodisi dhondhane waali dhak-dhak dhak-dhak dhak-dhak saansein… jin mein ho junoon junoon voh boonde laal lahuu ki …yeh sab tuu mila mila le… phir rang tuu khila khila le … aur mohe tuu rang de basanti yaara mohe tuu rang de basanti .
(Attempt at Translation 2: A little sand from the land of my country, a little fragrance from the winds, a little beating hearts and breaths, those obsessive red blood..You mix them all up…and you can see the bright hues…And you can colour me up in Saffron)
DOES IT GET MORE POWERFUL AND BEAUTIFUL…????~~~~~~~
So at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter to me if Rang de Basanti goes ahead and rewrite Bollywood history by becoming a box-office hit, or it just pulls to be a success. What matters to me, is that it is the one movie which has made me think and think over and over again..and what lingers in my memory are Tagore’s lines
“Into the Heaven of Freedom My Father, Let My Country Awake…”