They Came, They Killed, They Conquered

30 01 2006

They knew something was missing. Rather, I should say that they knew that a whole lot of things were missing. They were full of cynicism for the system and the people who run it. They knew that there are two kinds of people who live in this world. One: those who live with the system and die with the system. The other: those who try to change the system. They needed a jolt to bring them out of their slumber. And when they got the jolt, they made a difference that they could not even think in their wildest dreams.

Rang De Basanti is the story of a few such individuals who wanted to make a mark for themselves in this world but were too bogged down by the grim realities of life. What could they do about themselves, their nation, its system is all there is to this movie.

I won’t like to go into the details of the story as it has been written and re-written in almost every review of MouthShut and elsewhere but I would discuss some aspects of the story that I found intriguing.

What bugged me the most in this movie was the pace of the story. The movie, it seems covered only a quarter of its story by the time of the interval as all that we see happening in the first half is the selection of the cast of the documentary film on great Indian freedom fighters by Sue McKinley and the ensuing engagement of Flt Lt Ajay Rathore and Sonia. In between the scenes of the shooting of the documentary film we see the reconciliation between DJ and his gang and Laxman Pandey, the extremist turned idealist turned moderate.

Realizing that it is losing its grip on the viewer, almost as if on cue, the film picks up its pace right after intermission with the death of Flt Lt Ajay Rathore. But what acts as the catalyst for the rebellion that was already brewing within the DJ gang was the subsequent lathicharge by the police at the India Gate where they had taken out a peaceful procession mourning the death of Ajay Rathore and protesting against the comments of the Defence Minister. Its almost as if they woke up from their deep slumber and decided to live the characters that they were playing in Sue’s film. They decide to kill the Defence Minister. The plan is hatched and he is killed in the blink of eye!

Do they try to run from the law? Yes, they do. But only till the time they realize that the Defence Minister is made out to be a martyr of the nation and given the respect that he doesn’t deserve. Their plan to hijack the Radio Station looks foolproof and they are able to execute it without any problems. They confess to their crime and give up their weapon. What they did not realize is that the system that they tried to change was gunning for their throat. To those people who have watched the movie already, I have said enough and to those who haven’t yet watched it, I would say watch it and see what happens next.

The movie has its moments. There is something for everyone. There are plenty of scenes that leave the viewers laughing in raptures. The scene where DJ introduces Sue to his mother as her hone wali bahu is absolutely hilarious. The Punjabi and Jat accents of DJ and Sukhi are a revelation. They both, to an extent, remind you of the DCH version of Amir and his gang but the similarities end there. DJ and Sukhi end up as the most vocal and entertaining of the five.

The Performances

Amir Khan as DJ is excellence personified. What stands out about him is that he didn’t let his character overshadow the rest of his friends. His jovial nature, the line maaro on Sue and his exchanges with his mother bring the comic relief of this movie and at no time does he get overly irritating.

Sharman Joshi as Sukhi plays the perfect foil to Amir with his comic timing. He has done a very good job with his accent given that he comes from Mumbai and the Maharashtrian accent is quite visible in his normal dialogue delivery style.

Atul Kulkarni as Laxman Pandey brings to life a person who is idealistic in nature and is willing to go to any lengths to stand by them.

Kunal Kapoor as Aslam, the poet looks very simple and serious. His acting was good and me thinks that the audience had a liking for him.

Siddharth as Karan is an underrated actor. The cynicism and disgust for the people running the country is visible in his mannerisms. The scene to look out for is the one where he finds his father (played by Anupam Kher) is involved in the Defence Minister’s scam.

Soha Ali Khan as Sonia is good and her camaraderie with the rest of the gang is the thing to look out for.

Alice Patten as Sue McKinley, the filmmaker from UK is all smiles and all work in the first half of the movie. All that she does in the second half of the movie is to search for DJ and his gang while they go about killing the Defence Minister. I thought her grip on Hindi is quite good as compared to the motley crew that were assembled in earlier films like Lagaan and TLOBS.

Madhavan has a very limited role but excels in his brief appearance. He has shown that he has the talent that needs to be exploited well by a good director.

Kiron Kher as DJ’s mother, Om Puri as Aslam’s father and Anupam Kher as Karan’s father have played their respective limited roles with the panache that is associated with such great actors.

The Music
I am not a very big fan of AR Rehman as I have liked only a few of his creations but this is one of his better works. Lukka Chupi has been sung very well by Asha Bhonsle while songs like Khalbali, Khoon Chala, Paathshala, Roobaroo, Tu bin bataye and the title track are all music to your ears.

The Verdict
To say that this is the first big movie of 2006 would be an understatement. It has already made an impact that will be hard to emulate for any other movie this year. I put this movie on my must-watch list well before it was released and I am not disappointed. Watch this movie for the message that it is giving: we need a revolution to bring about the change that this movie visualized, still we must do something for our nation, even in our own small and limited capacity.


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