Sunday, January 31, 2010

Rang de Basanti

*Hindi*2006*Aamir Khan, Soha Ali Khan*

To dispense with the plot. A film is being made about the freedom struggle and in the process the five lead actors are awakened to the equally grim social realities of the present. Thus the film in the process of making  becomes more than a film and the past becomes a metaphor for the present. The youth take drastic measures to to counter the present ills, and the film culminates in a martyrdom analogous to that in the past.

One may have one's opinions about the cinematic values and plot credibility, but Aamir Khan's films are hard to ignore, if for no other reason than their mass viewer-ship. Like the others this one stretches close to three hours, and there are many stretches where one would like it to hurry up.

This is a movie about the widespread corruption in present day society, in the face of which we generally tend to throw up our hands in despair, even as we continue to be a part of it in our helplessness and majbooris. It draws a brilliant parralell between the period of the freedom struggle and the present times. It is true that the oppressive nature of colonialism persists in the present. In brief flashes it succeeds in evoking the powerful passions which were widespread in the first half of the previous century. The depiction of that period in monochrome is shoddy and the depiction of the Jallianwala massacre is hopelessly inadequate, in striking contrast to Attenboroughs powerfully stark delineation. Nevertheless the mood of the times is fleetingly caught, in however clumsy a manner. From these momentary flashes , the film takes a nose dive into absurd remedies of present day corruption.

A brave and serious attempt to focus on genuine issues, retaining a youthful and optimistic spirit. Aamir Khan's forte is his reservoir of raw emotion, and his ability to connect with the average Indian. Even as he para glides in the international sky, he is very much of the native earth, and is able to strike chords in large segments of viewer-ship. In his pan Indianess, he is representative (hopefully) of the next generation. He offers something a little beyond entertainment. I think he is able to genuinely address the concerns, aspirations and dreams of the citizenship, and to offer us something, howsoever inadequate, to fill the vacuums  life. As the saying goes, something is better than nothing. Perhaps he is most himself in Lagaan, a kind of Dilip Kumar clone. He gives you money's worth if not your time's worth of simplistic fare which rises above the pervasive tomfoolery of present Hindi cinema.

Aamir Khan is endearing in his depiction of a carefree spirited Sikh youth. There is a dazzling sequence of the Golden Temple, reflected majestically in it's surrounding sarovar.

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