“Main yeh nahin maanta ki hamara desh duniya ka sabse mahaan desh hai,” says Mohan Bhargav emphatically. (“I don’t think our country is the greatest in the world.”)
A few scenes later when he tries convincing his Ma to move to America he says, “Kuch Nahin Honewala is desh ka.” (“Nothing is going to change/happen to this country”)
And then, mother India and heroine India Gayathri Joshi bring about a change, telling him “Culture aur tradition ke bina desh aatma bina shareer samaan hota hai.” (A country without its culture is like a body without a soul)
Now, can Mohan leave his soul behind and all the people who he’s ever loved?
A personal crisis brings about a transformation as Mohan decides to accept the challenge like Bhuvan did in ‘Lagaan.’ While Bhuvan’s challenge was in uniting villagers of Champaner to beat the Englishmen in their own game, Mohan’s challenge is in uniting villagers of Charanpur to beat the new villains (corruption, bureaucracy, caste system and dirty politics) and bring about a change.
Swades marks the return of the non-resident Indian and with the changing times, Rabindranath Tagore wouldn’t really mind if you tell him that the country finally has a new national anthem, thanks to A.R. Rahman. ‘Yeh Jo Des Hai Tera’ gives you the goose bumps when you watch it on the screen and the shehnaai will haunt you for the rest of your life and infuse the modern Indian with a fresh dose of soulful patriotism, unheard and unseen of in a long time in Indian cinema. Unlike the unbelievable jingoism seen on the big screen in the nineties, Swades returns to an earlier era of Hindi cinema when filmmakers had their heart in the right place.
Ashutosh clearly belongs to that league.
The blue tone of Swades, in direct contrast to the earthy browns of Lagaan, pretty fills the frames with hope, promise and the freshness and potency of water. “Boond Boond milne se banta ek dariya hai,” as the song takes off on the ‘Tiny drops make an ocean’ saying, and underlines the importance of unity and solidarity.
Swades has Shah Rukh Khan playing his usual self smacking of arrogance in the first few frames of the film and then contrasts it with a much toned down, subdued performance after the transformation — easily one of his best performances. Gayathri Joshi reveals plenty of potential and versatility, is likely to appeal to people more than Gracy Singh.
Though there are bound to be comparisons between Lagaan and Swades, this call of the nation deserves to be viewed in isolation.
Never has a movie inspired an Indian more.
Here’s a salute to Ashutosh Gowarikar.
Another to Shah Rukh Khan.
And one, of course, to the country that made these wonderful people.
Yet another to the Indians around the world who will make sure that this venture from the heart does not go unnoticed.
Swades is truly the movie that’s will give every Non Resident Indian and every Resident Non Indian the most needed epiphany. The moment of truth is here. To this country. And it is we who make the country what it is.
Rise, people. For a standing ovation to Ashutosh and team.
Er … Relax guys, I was just practicing writing a review for Swades. I haven’t seen the movie yet, watching it tomorrow first day first show. Let’s just hope I’m right. 😀