With this fourth consecutive post on Swades, this blog is likely to become the unofficial Swades fan club. He he!
But after I watched the movie again, my respect for this movie has gone up by a few notches. People, this movie is a CLASSIC. And the background score simply rocks. I find the theme score pretty haunting, too bad it’s not on the CD… it’s the music that appears during the opening credits and later in the climax with a mission impossible feel.
Here are some of the things I noticed watching it the second time.
SPOILER ALERT: Well, don’t read ahead if you are very touchy about details and specifics and would want to find them out for yourself. But come on, this isn’t exactly a thriller. And there’s no climax. It’s not the kind of movie you would watch for the story as such but the kind you will worship for the narrative (the way a story is told).
So here we go, the Swades trivia:
The bookshop where Mohan meets Gita for the first time, and asks her for the way to Charanpur, is called Pathfinder.
When Mohan is at the book counter, there is a book called Bapu Kutir, by Rajni Bakshi. That’s the book credited at the beginning of the movie. Apparently, it was Rajni Bakshi who told Ashutosh about the real life hydro-electricity project and AID.
The village Charanpur which represents every element of India – caste diversities, the soil, the water resources, the problems of illiteracy, lack of infrastructure and a selfless Mother India in Kauveri-amma who in her very introduction scene is shown grooming yet another new born infant. The village Panchayat too has the same variety of characters as the Indian government would. First, of all, the Panchayat system is a coalition of five people, out of which one guy has a Laloo hairstyle and declares ‘hamra des duniya ka sabse mahaan des hai.’ There’s also a Fatima Beevi, a woman and from the minority community in the five running the village. Pretty much representative of the Indian system.
In the scene where the entire village watches ‘Yaadon Ki Baarat’ sitting on either side of the screen, Ashutosh uses plenty of cues. The movie sequence to suggest that the entire village irrespective of caste and creed (which represents every element of India in the film) gets together only during a movie, so true of India where cinema is religion.
Hence, Mohan uses the same canvas used for cinema during the power-cut to deliver his message of unity through the song ‘Yeh Taara Woh Tara.’ You can easily draw a parallel with Ashutosh using the medium of cinema and stars like Shah Rukh Khan to get his message across to the Indian population. The silhouette of Shah Rukh Khan (raising his arm, his typical regular standard steps and body language) on the canvas further substantiates the point. It is only in this song that Shah Rukh Khan is Shah Rukh Khan and not Mohan Bhargav. Swades needed a star to endorse the message. SRK was the star.
The movie is aptly titled ‘Yaadon Ki Baarat’ to take NRIs watching the movie down memory lane. The movie is about siblings SEPARATED due to circumstances. Aamir Khan plays the youngest son in that clip of ‘Yaadon Ki Baarat.’
To suggest separation and reunion, Ashutosh borrows heavily from two of India’s greatest tales – Ramayan and Mahabharath. Mohan is another name for Krishna, who was brought up by Yashodha. In the movie, Mohan is actually raised not by his own mother but by his nanny Kauveri Amma who he refers to as Yashodha in the scene when he meets her in the village after a decade.
In another occasion, in a direct reference during the Ramleela song (which has now been edited out of the movie by exhibitors), the director draws parallels between Gayatri Joshi as Gita playing Sita who is in Ravan’s captivity (Sita, according to the Ramayan, incidentally is the daughter of mother earth). Gita in the movie is the daughter of the soil, who stands for the ‘sanskar’ and ‘parampara.’ She was kidnapped when Ram was away during the exile of around 12 years, exactly the around the same number of years that Mohan was away from India.
The fictitious village is called Charanpur because it housed the temple that is supposed to have foot imprints of Ram and Sita.
On a lighter note, Gita is also the book of advice, which the heroine gives out liberally throughout to Mohan. 😉
Mohan when he meets Kauveri-amma for the first time, does not sip water that she gives him. He just puts it away (a close-up registers that the tumbler is still full) subtly. He’s also shown to be carrying a month’s supply of mineral water bottles.
But later when he meets the boy at the railway station selling water for 25 paise, a visibly shaken Mohan takes a sip from that tumbler. He doesn’t care if it’s contaminated. This is his country. The moment of epiphany.
On day one, Mohan wakes up from his caravan and has his bath inside the caravan too. In the course of the movie, the director shows him sleeping on the cot only to wake up and say ‘I haven’t had such deep sleep in a long time.’ And seems to be enjoying his bath by the well.
In one of the songs, Gita makes Mohan set foot into the temple tank. He does that and feels really good about it. This is when he’s just set foot into the country, nothing more. Later in the end when he’s completely surrendered to the country, he has a wash from the same temple tank as he uses that water to wash his body of the soil that is now part of him (the last frame of the movie).