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Monday, January 23, 2006

Rang de basanti Film Review

If you're one of those strange people who need to read the review of a movie before seeing it, even if it has great trailers, receives wide press coverage and stars Aamir select-few-movies Khan - hi there.
Now GO book your tickets before they're sold out!

Rang de basanti is the story of a group of friends coming of age and discovering their patriotic passion. The leader of the pack is, of course, Aamir as DJ. As you may guess by his nickname, he and his friends are the stereotypical Delhi-Punjus, spewing heavily accented Hindi and English and using expletives by the dozen. Being college kids, they seldom attend classes and drink lots of beer and engage in long drunken drives. (And I am not being sarcastic here - they are truly doing what you and I know we did and do!)

Change in their lives comes in the form a foreign film-maker, a young girl Sue, who casts them in her movie on Bhagat Singh. As expected, it impacts their sensibilities. But the awakening comes when a MIG 21 plane crashes, killing their friend alongwith. The change wrought in their thoughts, and the actions they take to announce their potency is the focus of the second half (also the better half) of the movie. There is a proper plot to the story - you will probably guess it as the movie progresses - but I won't spill the beans here.

There are a lot of funny short scenes along the way - helped largely by Aamir. DJ is kinda like the urban, middle-class version of Rangeela man. Humour is also extracted from the way the guys speak - but North Indians will probably not find that funny - especially as these are not-quite-perfect punju accents, or so my Delhi-trained ears tell me. Only Kiran Kher masters speech perfectly. Anyhow, by the second half of the movie everyone's speaking all right. (whether coz the actors improved their diction, or I got used to the way they spoke, can't say)

Songs are awsome. (Personally, I am delighted to see the return of Daler Mehndi in the title song)

And thankfully, dancers do not drop out of the sky without reason. Which is reason enough Rang de Basanti fits perfectly in the "different" movies genre that we've recently seen in Indian cinema. Moreover, the story-telling stands apart: it is partly first person, and partly a parallel narrative. And the filming is just beautiful - whoever did the location search for the movie did an outstanding job. Would make you want to go to the hangout places these guys had.

Rang de basanti is a movie with a serious essence - it touches sometimes subtly, sometimes stridently on many social issues, using the independence struggle as a synonym for what we need to do today. Yet, it is not your regular 'serious movie'. There is enough comedy and feel-good factor to make the evening a non-teary outing. And you will often laugh. Which takes us to what I think is the downside of the movie - it doesn't make you cry. It's a sad story of our times, and it should be touching enough to make one cry - even King Kong achieved that with me - but Rang de Basanti doesn't. For those who don't like tear-jerking movies or have OD-ed on Balaji telefilms will probably note this as a positive. But I would have liked to cry :S

Another negative: I really don't think Aamir fits into a college kid role any longer. Yes, his outstanding acting makes up for his mature face, and many would argue that without his screen presence, the movie would fall some notches. But I think the role didn't demand Aamir's look / persona. Moreover, this director - scriptwriter team could have pulled off a younger actor in Aamir's role with equal or even great aplomb. The narrative style, the social sensibilities - these are the things that work in the film for me. They would have worked with even a Vivek Oberoi, or Abhishek Bachchan.

That apart - casting is really good. The firang girl in the movie is a superb find: prepare to be shocked by her hindi. Even guest appearance guys - like Gaurav Kapoor - are well-chosen.

All in all - I would bet that this movie is going to do well and become a hit. So if you're going to book tickets, book tickets in advance.


Sriram said...

Nice Review Anuja!

But where did u see the movie?

I guess it is fittingly releasing on Jan 26th right?

Anyways I have booked the tickets already!

Praveen said...

hi anuja...
nice initiative to review a film even b4 its release....
well....u missed the strongest point of the movie...A.R.Rahman's magical music...
otherwise its a nice review...
and also am not sure abt tht comment that this film maynot make us cry....

hope this is gonna be a landmark movie like swades...

also chkout my blog...

Quicksilver! said...

Great review!Am glad i read it!:-)
Will watch!:-)

farrukh: copywriter & journalist said...

I liked the way the movie makers have grabbed the attention of young people - but I don't agree with the solutions the movie offers to them.

The end could have been more practical or imgainative buit somethingn we all could do in our lives. Assasination is not what I wanted the movie to end up with.

I loved Swades though - all parts of it. And 'Khamoshi' was something that could make me cry!

copywriter and journalist