(Re-written again for the paper but at the end I realised it was too long for the paper to publish)
Long live the revolution
Cast: Aamir Khan, Alice Patten, Siddharth, Kunal Kapoor, Sharman Joshi, Atul Kulkarni, Soha Ali Khan, Madhavan
Director: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra
Storyline: A British filmmaker who comes to India to make a film on young revolutionaries of yore finds a carefree, indifferent generation of rebels, who are destined to change during the making of the film.
Bottomline: It just cannot get better than this.
After a pleasant dream, you wake up smiling.
After a nightmare, you wake up sober — brooding, thinking, hoping it never comes true. And then, you probably smile.
When Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s alarm bell ‘Rang De Basanti,’ goes off, you will wake up to a bit of everything: the bitter and the sweet, the smile on your lips and the butterflies in your stomach, the food for thought and the cola to chill out.
Unlike anything we’ve seen in Hindi cinema before this, comes this light-hearted yet serious-minded, instant cult classic that could drill home a sense of nation and responsibility, into the collective conscious of the urban Indian youth.
A movie likely to get under that skin beneath the well worn-out denims and the matching carefree attitude of those who adorn it.
A film about modern day rebels without that elusive cause finding it and themselves in the process.
RDB would have been an incredibly difficult film to make or even conceive, salutes to Kamlesh Pandey for the script.
But to make a script like that come alive needs super-human sensitivity. Brave old Rakeysh Mehra is a super-talented filmmaker to achieve what he has.
Imagine his confidence if he uses an actor of Aamir’s calibre as just one of the guys in the movie. In fact, sometimes you wonder if Siddharth is its leading man.
But the truth is that everyone in this ensemble cast has something significant to do to the narrative.
They all shine.
If Aamir sweeps you with his charm throughout and has you under arrest in the scene where he breaks down, Alice bowls you over with her Hindi and presence.
Siddharth-reinvented is a revelation, the surprise package of the film. Kunal Kapoor scores with his understated performance and intensity. Sharman Joshi is instantly likeable and emotes like a veteran. Atul Kulkarni lends his soul to the role. And Madhavan and Soha make you fall in love with them and their pairing. So right from the casting, RDB seems to have got it all right.
The first half of the movie is where Rakeysh scores in his experiment: delivering the tricolour to those lost in denim. Armed with plenty of stylish techniques, the director nourishes his under-fed young audience with spoonfuls of concentrated genuine nationalism spiked with cola, just for the flavour and the after-taste.
Imagine well-orchestrated sequences of freedom struggle beautifully captured in sepia tone and set to funky rock music! Truly inventive. Binod Pradhan is likely to sweep the best Cinematographer awards for the year and this movie might just be this year’s India’s entry to the Oscars.
The reason: RDB alternates between genres, moods, sensibilities and yet manages to keep its twin narratives cohesive and seamless.
So, MTV-meets-BBC as Rakeysh tells us two parallel stories: one about the rebels-without-a-cause of today and the other about the revolutionaries who died for one.
Towards the later half of the movie, the plot-points in both these narratives merge as the aimless youth find their purpose. It is exactly at this point that RDB begins to fumble.
But to give Rakeysh due credit, it is difficult to marry a realistically subtle ‘Dil Chahta Hai’-sensibility to a surrealistic ‘Dil Se’ sensibility or a docu-dramatic ‘Hey Ram’ or a ‘Gandhi’ sensibility, all within one movie.
So it does seems like a laboured effort when you force the laidback narrative with every day simplicities into a catacylsmic, dramatic plot-point, just to make the subsequent transformation of the heroes of the film, seem poetic.
You begin relating to the movie at a realistic level. Halfway through, it turns surreal when the characters plunge to their lows and later even “unreal,” as a character keeps repeating towards the end. But, despite the inherent inconsistency in the intended feel, the directors works hard to keep the plausibility intact.
Rahman’s songs turn out to be a neat alienation device but the pace slackens. But when the music is what anthems are made of and lines so deep and visuals that enslave your soul, why would you complain?
The movie demands three hours of devoted attention because there is so much to savour, absorb and relish. It’s a feast: visually, intellectually and emotionally rich. There is passion written over every single frame of the movie, little details to make you admire its maker and moments that stay with you long after you’ve left the hall.
The interplay between the characters throughout is so well-crafted that despite its slow pace, the screenplay remains tight. Every shot makes a statement, every pause speaks and every bit little strain of music punctuates the proceedings.
The pace is intentionally slow because a theme like needs to be served carefully, and little by little, as subtly as possible. Like Anupam Kher says in the movie: “SMS generation. Char line kya bol diya, lecture samajne lagtey hai.” (“Speak four lines and the SMS generation thinks you’re giving them a lecture”).
The only big flaw: Though it seems like a fascinating idea to replace imperialistic villains of yesterday with the fascist politicians of today, the context is not quite the same or that simplistic. It is that political context that makes RDB a little weak.
The solutions available today are many and the incident on which the movie borrows from, is testimony to that fact. Modern-day democracy, increasing literacy rates and an active competitive media ensuring political transparency, provides rebels of today far more solutions than the ones available to the revolutionaries of yore.
As a result, ‘Rang De Basanti’ is great cinema but not effective as mass communication or politically-correct cinema.
Unlike ‘Yuva’ that ended tamely with just a promise, waking you up before you can live the fantasy, RDB goes all the way. But here, instead of making you fantasise about what heroes of today can do, it turns all that activism into a really bad dream just so that the parallel lines between the two narratives remain intact.
But again, consider: a dream makes you go back to sleep with a smile. A nightmare … wakes you up!
Cant wait to watch the movie…
“Rang De Basanti is a difficult film to review. Primarily, because, it surely would have been an incredibly difficult film to make.”
“There are way too many parameters one needs to consider while reviewing this coming-of-age film with its layers of political content, poetic touches and parallel narratives.”
Did u watch Hazaaron Khwaishon Aisi? U’d feel the same. Beautiful film. Im yet to watch Rang De Basanti. Thanx for the review.
will watch this monday….bin looking forward to it since its music came out and the music absolutely ROCKS!!!
hey thats a splendid, balanced review! (all the other reviews of the movie seem so juvenile after this!) and your saarang stories were a-class sudhish!
All the characters blended in and out so well. There was no dominance as such by anybody. Everybody played their own and complemented the others too. I loved it !
prasanna and sathish:
im sorry i had to take your comment away because having it disclose the climax or key scenes in the movie is doing the movie gross injustice.
Lets not ruin it for others giving away spoilers.
amazing that you could write an impassionate review…
saw the movie yesterday night, and all i could write was roobaroooooooooooooo roshniiiiiiiiiiiiii..heyyyy 🙂
after hazaaron, this is one movie which i guess i was waiting for ….i am willing to forgive its hazaar flaws!! 🙂
Hey Sudish…you said soon when I asked you for the review..and u did deliver it soon..thnkx…i am yet to watch the movie so lets see if i agree with you…ciao
Will watch the movie with the review in mind…. but ARR+Aamir combo will carry off the youth
I was actually surprised to read your first review.
I liked the film much better than swades . Most of the scenes are so real that it was scary.
When one part of the world is calling to abolish the death penalty even on known murderers, the Indian film directors are happily glorifying violence. Shame on Indian cinema!
Remember that it was finally non-violence that won India independence…
i totally agree wid j.. i really loved the first half of the film…
but the director puts u on top of a hill n then pushed u to the other side….
the second half was such a bummer..
i really think the director has demeened the youth of today.. v r really not as hot headed as shown in this film..
take yuva or example.. michael’s charecter inspite of being violent in nature doesnt jus go on a killing spree.. mani rathnam has truly respected the youth’s sensibilities in tht film..
rang de could ve been good.. but it jus ended up being a technically good film…
it had many promises it failed to keep….
n yea it comes no way close to hazaaron… tht movie is 50000000 times better than rang de…..
One thing that Rang De proves is that, the freedom struggle must go on and every individual must take up that responsibility upon their shoulders.
It is an emergency-wake up call for the youth in India to take the cause of freedom seriously.
And gr8 review this is!! I have also attempted one. Check out my blog if you can.
not a probs! didnt intend to be a spoiler either! But anyway just putting fwding my views on the ending!
This movie is a revelation.. Every actor and actress has lived his/her character and I’d give a perfect 10/10 score to
the director who has succeeded in revealing their talent.
But as you say, the director could have given a better solution. Maybe, he wanted to stick to reality…
I wasn’t able to come out of it even after the movie was over..
Got 2 watch it… btw, why are thr suddenly soooo many ‘soooos’?
Really a great review for a great movie.
I seriously hope this movie makes it to the oscar. After hey ram, this is one movie that should be go for oscars.
superb review dude…very well written.
like a good review, it allows me to choose whether to see the movie or not.
You were right in pin-pointing that the stage where bitter reality of life hits the main characters, the movie fumbles. Actually the characters start to fumble and the movie tumbles. It just lost the point.
I would call it a well-attempted movie in the likes of Yuva ( I would still rate Yuva a shade higher). A minor disappointment but box-office might dictate otherwise 🙂
Can’t wait to watch the movie! Thanks for the review…And you have been mentioned in the latest post on my blog..you might want to go see that.:)
ill reply soon.
meanwhile, an anonymous aunty has a problem with me… im not responsible for her pms really, no clue why she’s stalking me.
and she’s dumb enuff to believe that that deleting her comment takes more effort than her having to type one everytime i delete her comment.
saw it twice in 4 days
the yr has just begun, but it’s already the best movie of the year undoubtedly
Sudhish, I read the untrimmed version too. Actually didn’t read it. Just skimmed through it to escape the spoiler. And got to see in the comments that you actually deleted couple of comments who let out a spoiler of RDB. Appreciate it much.
Atleast for the first 2 weeks if we could hold on to spoilers, the film buffs would get to watch it without reading a spoiler.
RDB seems to have extreme reviews. There are not mediocre reviews to it. Atleast in the ones that I got to read. Will come back here with my comments.
Very good review!
“Modern-day democracy, increasing literacy rates and an active competitive media ensuring political transparency, provides rebels of today far more solutions than the ones available to the revolutionaries of yore.” — I dont quite agree with you on that point… active competitive media has not been able to bring out much of political transparency.. still people who loot in crores are the chief ministers and people talking against them could disappear into thin air….. its infact pathetic that the rising literacy rates are making people analyse the situations and finally give up their entire hopes!!
an active competitive media??? as long as we’re not talking TV channels here…i agree 🙂
saw the movie y day….ROCKS!!!! absolutely classic!! 🙂
saw the movie just now and really enjoyed it till the intermission. after that, as quite a few have mentioned, the plot becomes surreal. Towards the end, they’ve made it very cinematic and it fails to drive home the point. In the end, I don’t think the director comes out with a major point at all. The gate of change is from within a person and it is very unrealistic to expect college students to get inspiration from this and change the world. That ain’t happening. You’ll get inspiration only when you’re looking for one, not when you are listening to morning radio as a daily routine. stories may move us, but the feelings will end right there. I mean, you are made to focus on a specific problem in the movie, but then several hundred such stories happen everyday and I am pretty sure nothing is being learnt from such mistakes, at least not immediately.
Here’s where I couldn’t help appreciating Maniratnam’s genius. The tame ending of Yuva that you’ve mentioned is the reality, not violence or thoughtless assasinations. He has neatly portrated the fact that habits are difficult to break and a good change in India can’t be brought about overnight. He has actually proposed a practical solution – that is very far from gathering arms and shooting people. He is truly a step ahead in writing the script.
yeah, rang de is not effective mass communication 🙂
The review itself makes me want to see the movie! Honestly, I think this is probably the first, where Aamir plays one of the guys except maybe Dil Chahta Hai, but a shade lesser than this one. That itself makes it worth watching.
Boss, RDB is scripted by rensil d silva, young and spirited film maker from mumbai. not by kamlesh pandey.
rensil d silva co-wrote screenplay with rakeysh himself but the script was conceived by Kamlesh Pandey, if you care to read the credits carefully!
Great review. I liked the movie very much. It did have a little taste of everything. I do applaud everyone involved in the making.
PS: Hope you can send it to the paper, nonetheless!?
This is Rosco of roscoland.com and I was doing some searching for film makers to inviter to our new film and video contest. I found your site among some others and want to extend you an invitation to enter. Please take a minute and look at http://www.roscoland.com/contestpage.html I am not trying to advertise. Go ahead and erase this comment, but if you have something to enter please take a look and strongly consider it. Thanks for your time Rosco of roscoland.com
Saw the movie last night…RDB rocks! Fresh frames, great scenes and super songs.
This movie absolutley rocks! One of the best in a long long time, without a speck of doubt!
“So it does seems like a laboured effort when you force the laidback narrative with every day simplicities into a catacylsmic, dramatic plot-point, just to make the subsequent transformation of the heroes of the film, seem poetic.” You have a way with words and these just capture exactly what I felt too (along with many other things you said). Sharman Joshi seemed a bit over-enthusiastic though, but I’ll forgive that.
Very good review, guess I’ll watch it again (goes off, dancing bhangra).
RDB rocks..but i refused to write a review about it.
Can I get original two versions too, please ?
Saw the movie yesterday .. and thanks for a great review.. … Btw isn’t the movie 4 hrs long rather than 3??
Just a couple of thoughts …
Solutions were more than one those days too .. Gandhi and Bhagat singh are manifestation of those solutions.. Just upto an indivisual what he chooses.. and the director wasnt advocating the use of violence ..I guess the thrust was on “Do something” rather than the way u do it..
whats more … the lack of superheroes makes the dream convincing..
Know what’s sad about the whole movie…? 😉
I haven’t watched it yet! :))
Had a bad experience, bought tickets, went in 30 minutes late and turned back just before getting in!!! 😦
Buying tickets for this Friday again! 😉 Hope its worth all that review… 😀
looking forward to your coverage of netru indru naalai maalai
ME FIRST : HAPPY BITRTHDAY DEAREST SUDERMAN!
thanks ma!! 🙂
i cudnt go for netru indru naalai… was on night shift!
hope u got to watch it!! 🙂
you’re damn right about that… it is indeed about “do something” rather than the “what to do”…
i havent changed them much… just added to the other two reviews to write this one…
review need not always mean criticism! what uve written is a review!! 🙂
🙂 I liked Sharman…
thats an understatement dude…
thank you for that. will pass the word.
yeah, the paper carried it… 🙂
Everything Rocks abt the movie .. but yet again this is a movie where Politics wins over common man.. Though the movie intension was to induce patriotism in youth, it may workout in another way… it may induce fear of Politician in Youth.