Friday, February 03, 2006

Colour Me Red

It’s been 48 hours and I still cant stop crooning an Arabic lilt. The bug caught me when I was roughly one hour into a movie and the story seemed to be drunk - Unsure of where it was going. As usual, there was a respite and a song started playing with digital clarity through the fine-tuned speakers. And the rhythm stuck.
When the lights came on at mid-point, the story was still languishing along. As I stood on one leg waiting for my turn at the men’s room in the theatre, reveling in the fumigating smell of the toilet, I caught myself humming that tune again. I returned with packs of crackling popcorn (at Rs.20/- per packet, that was multiplex robbery), back to my buddies waiting at L 1-4 seats. Couple of them still drooling over the gori mem in the movie; the other couple over the not-so-gora south indian hero.
In another 90 minutes, the final credits rolled. I passed my verdict- not good enough!
Don’t know whether it was the over hyped promos or the over done revenge thread – Either way I felt disappointed. The rickshaw wallah quoted a prince’s dowry. Got shortchanged- for the second time!
That night as hum-paanch-lukkhas crammed into a mattress piece for three, as the fan refused to settle down for anything but the top speed (and switching it off would have meant sweet lullabies from the mosquito-mummies, which I could definitely do without), an eerie thing happened. All five of us started humming that Arabic note together.
One is chance, two is coincidence, three is weird but when all five start to sing the same piece at the same instant (without any conductor twirling his baton), that’s absolute goose bumps stuff.
But then we covered that up with a nervous giggle and sang on. The tune had stuck..
And when we started dissecting the movie – a cut here, a stitch there- I knew. The movie had stuck too.

Khalbali (Rough translation)
The dawn is stubborn.
The dream is stubborn.
The storm is stubborn.
And so are we…

Rarely does a movie cater to your senses and one that graces your intellect is even rarer. Rang de Basanthi doesn’t claim to be either. It doesn’t have the sweeping elegance of a ‘Black’, the uber-realism of a ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ or the simple genius of a ‘Lagaan’.
You cant pich the movie into the hallowed realms of a classic. But it still manages to work, to stick - somehow.
Blame that on the sheer avant garde performance of the stars, or the pleasant surprise of a relatively new kid, Sidharth stealing the shine from Aamir Khan in an undoubtedly author-backed role (and maybe it takes an Aamir Khan to graciously play second fiddle).
The eclectic mix of vulnerability and machismo of Kunaal Kapoor.
The endearing goofball act of Sharmaan Joshi.
The revelation called Soha Ali Khan
The very dependable Atul Kulkarni.
And the very attractive Alice Patton.
Four youngsters, and the not-so-young Aamir – Youth as they come. With not a care in the world and showing the finger at life. The way they crack up at the non-sensical mumbo jumbo mouthed by Bhagath Singh & Co will make you smile.
The montages of the freedom movement are major speed breakers and the editor seemed to have a cozy doze at quite a few occasions. I still wonder whether the director was part of the Bhagath Singh bandwagon (giving company to Raj Santhoshi and Guddu Dhanoa and succumbing to his better senses eventually).
The five friends in the film finally start sinking their teeth into their docu-roles and taking it a tad too seriously. At this point you brace yourself expecting interesting stuff ahead.
But what follows is kind of a letdown. The way they gun down the defence minister to avenge the death of a fellow mate of theirs is stretching your elastic imagination a bit too much. Ditto the confessions at the radio station and the blood and gore that follows.

Khoon Chala (Rough Translation)
It drips from the body
Embraces the earth
Through the gullies and bylanes
It floods and twirls
To paint a new colour
Blood flows…

So where is the redeeming factor?
Is it in the back-to-arms philosophy?
As one character aptly puts, doesn’t everyone dream of lining up all those politicos ala Fuehrer-isstyle and gunning them down? Changing the system from inside might seem as non-sensical as pushing a car from within.
The movie Yuva was made in the same lines (in a much more believable fashion)- Youth taking a stand and doing their bit rather than cribbing endlessly.
In this light, the recent news about five IIT’ians starting a political party is worth a dekko. Five guys studying in a premier institution with sure promises of a plush job and plum pay packets chuck that away and take a plunge into muddy waters.
What drove them to it? I am stumped. But whatever it was, I salute that.
Policies are made in the higher echelons, no doubt. But India Inc’s juggernaut taps its energy from the youth, from their zest. The role that the below-40’s played in revitalising an ailing economy is no small one. Of course, they didn’t do that for any high-sounding ideal. The reason was simple enough- Selfishness. A wish for a better life, not for the society but for the self. And that stream of thought is indeed virtuous, once you see the big picture. The same energy with a pinch of selflessness could work wonders in the political scene too.
Yuva tagged the moderate line and flopped. RDB tags the extremist line and seems all set for BO success. That is oversimplifying the issue, I know. Hundreds of factors come to play as far as the box office is concerned. But truth is, guns and gore have a charm to it. Providing instant (though not necessarily lasting) solution to an issue. But there are mightier weapons than a 0.47. The pen for instance (quoting a done-to-death quote). Or a keystroke. Coz a fight is a fight is a fight.
Trivia like Dan Rather and CBS being brought down by a bunch of webloggers, and DailyKos getting one million hits everyday despite being a blog (and thus a poorer cousin of the more popular ‘website’) – All these show that there are minds out there waiting to be connected, to be parts of one mighty whole.

Roobaroo (Rough Translation)
Hey dude..
Right now I’ve realised
A spark resides inside
Dawn dawned. I set foot.
And snatched away the sun too.
Its heavenly light thru’ n thru’…

RDB is not your idea of the perfect movie. But still it has something, which you cant put your finger on, which makes the movie, like the music, grow on you..
Maybe you beg to differ. Maybe the whole post is akin to blowing up a very average cinematic venture into something exceptional.
If that’s the case, then this is a simple ode to the moment when me and my buddies sang that note together; to the sheer magic of that night we chatted away shivering under the merciless mercury. Nothing less and nothing more.
If that’s not the case, and if I go by the passionate discussions of fellow viewers, I am witnessing a first-of-sorts. A seemingly ordinary movie triggering off something deep within. Thoughts and dialogues on an issue which was left lying in the back burner for too long; which demands its share of impassioned discussions and concrete follow-ups.
Hope the issue doesn’t get chucked back too soon.
There’s hope for another couple of weeks at least. Time till the next Rahul or Raj starts crooning all possible rhymes of deewana from the saffron valleys and the Swiss Alps.

Winds of change are slow..
But time proves it sure does blow.


lash said...

i cudnt enjoy that movie at all....

except for aamir and that white female and the style guy the movie completely let me down...

lesson learnt: never trust HT reviews...

D said...

Well first either Illuzn has outsourced her job or you are forcefully taking it, well thats a good description....somehow I feel connected to it, yes killing the defence minister so easily was a factual joke....or taking up AIR (which blv me was possible until the movie realesed and auth woke up), showing Habitat centre as Delhi Univ were goof ups...however setting up an organization which takes up arms to make politicians realize is something which I blv can be toyed with and may be would stand for even!!!, though the results are well shown in the movie...than again as in the movie you cant play revolutionist characters until you feel the then spirit and you cant enjoy movie until you catch on the theme, emotionally....

Lash what abt setting up a party like this man....I blv you can be a good scriptwriter for lashing

Heidi said...

Well wat u said abt the movie is absolutely right.. there are a lot of flaws.. nothing in particular is great but still it is an experience... the movie ads to the lure of the music which is incomplete without the movie at times...

ursjina said...

hey..same here..i dint find anything extra ordinaire proclaimed so high by the hype...but then as u said the movie gorws on u..n i guess dats wat makes it special...
n the music is awesome...

kd said...

u know what I think. Just droping a note.. I was here. Great review. Honest..

smriti said...

discovered you, thank god.
haven't watched teh movie yet but will.

Vijayeta said...

Well, being a little familiar with the medium and working in the entertainment industry myself, let me tell you, a film doesnt work cos of its technical brilliance or grandiose statements. A film is a hit because, like you said,"blowing up a very average cinematic venture into something exceptional...A seemingly ordinary movie triggering off something deep within." Its a good film if it hits a chord within you. Production values, budgets and tech finesse notwithstanding!
Change is happening. In more ways than one. Our cinema for starters. Not only has Rakeysh Mehra made a film that's turned out to be a "Hit" (and trust me, the weekend a film releases, is the most painful trauma for a filmmaker!) His film is actually well-appreciated by critics and the masses alike. Its heartening to know that our audiences have the intelligence and mindset to appreciate a Rang De Basanti along with the other Rahul/Raj dancing in the Alps films (which, if well made are not all that bad either ;)

illusion said...

jedi...calling it a review will simply demean the post....and as far as D's comment is concerned..LOL...i can just say that I am thinkin of outsourcing your job....watta say...ek do review mere blog par likh do?

jedi said...

Thank you all for dropping by..

@lash ... guess we dont agree on this one movie i guess. meanwhiles check out y tu mama tambien. Awesome movie. Seems Dil chahta hai was a rip-off on that.

@D ... Lol, how did u know about the outsourcing deal? Dont demean her, dude;)

@nutkhat n ursjina... grt tht u feel the same about the movie.

@kd... Thnx da. Great minds think alike;) The way we wrote on the same topic on the same week.

@smriti... Thanks for dropping by. And let me steal those words. Ive discovered you.and vijayeta WOnderful blog urs!!

@vijayeta .. u r bang on when u say a movie works if it hits the right chord.

@illusion ... Thnx for the compliment . no pipe dreams of encroaching ur territory. no sense in fighting a losing battle.

gearhead said...

Sometimes our expectations weigh us down.I guess that is what has happened in this case.Just like jedi has said this films seems to grow on you.I would say more than the film the music...

It exactly follows the AR Rahman style.Remember when we used to hate 'Boys' and later on became so very addicted to it?

As far as the film goes I am ok with it, though it was a wee bit on the violent side towards the end.

About your review :-)
Mark my words
you are really going to go places

silverine said...

Very nice analysis of the movie. I think movies like RDB is the need of the hour if we have to get the educated Indian interested in the nation rather than just their careers.

lash said...

bull shit.... i dont think any educated indians wud want to become a politician or would want to change the System after watching Rang de Basanti...
that movie wud ve been nice if anyone else other than Rakesh mehra had written the screen play... i dont say killing a defence minister is impossible..i dont say hijacking Fm station is impossible.. but the way i saw it in that movie was infact impossible..

i am sad that i was a victim to the hype.

but i am happy that shahrukh or Amitabh wasnt there in the movie... If nto for Aamir i wud ve bombed that hall...!!!

Id it is said...

Thanks for visiting."What Went Wrong" is definitely on my 'to read' list. Samuel Huntingdon's "Clash of Civilizations" is one I strongly recommend if you haven't read it already.

I haven't seen the movie but your write up makes me want to see it. I wonder if I'd be able to rent it in a video library (the foreign film section) after a while.

jedi said...

@ gearhead... Ur right about the parallel with 'Boys'. God, miss those days!
@silverine.. I agree.. Movies can have a definite soft power. Just got to remember the role movies and jazz music played in turning the tide of public opinion in Big Bro's favour during the cold war
@lash... Uve made ur point bro. Now quit badmouthing;)
@id it is...Thnx for the reference. Shud definitely try 'Clash of Civilizations'. Do write ur thoughts on 'What went wrong' once uve read it

Manish said...

But what follows is kind of a letdown. The way they gun down the defence ..........station and the blood and gore that follows.

I felt the same. May be to corelate the Bhagat Singh story with the main protagonists this twist was given to the plot. But it appeared too filmy. But overall the film has something fresh to offer . Though DCH was much to watch though.

Vijayeta said...

No new post for long?

jedi said...

HI Vijayeta,
Ya was kind of tied up with my mba admission interviews. The shit wud continue for another week;) Will be back to active blogging in another week..
And gotta read all of ur new posts too.

Maya Cassis said...

love the way you express yourself.:)

nevrlandrckr said...

k....i LUVD this movie..i know there were the minor stuff that seemed a bit weird like amir kahns dance w/ sue in the beginning(i have to admit..what the hec was he doin!?! how the minister happened to take moring walks with less security and how pandey knew...etc etc.. but....i loved this movie neway...
I thought it was awesome how they substiuted the Minster with the british in that one scene...goosebumbs!..
I just really liked the overall message...its not al luvy duvy and really opens ur eyes..there arent that many hindi movies like that..didnt say there arent at all-dont wana get but they r pretty rare....