Friday, February 17, 2006

RDB - Thoughts


Disclaimer: This post is not meant to be one of those controversial reviews of 'Rang De Basanti' that abound in blogosphere. These are merely my thoughts, as a member of the generation that supposedly 'awakens' in the movie. Oh, and it won't make much sense if you haven't seen the movie.

1. I wonder if the director wanted to create a youth movie or an idealistic movie. Perhaps he wanted to merge the two, in which case, the merging was not done very well. The first half is the youth part, with the sort of music that the youth likes, (though I must admit, the music is good - even a person as out of touch with Bollywood music as I am had heard most of the songs, albeit out-of-tune and badly sung by my unmusical friends) and the second half is the unrealistic, idealistic, stupid part.

2. Unrealistic, idealistic, stupid? Certainly. Noone but the stupidest would do what the protagonists in the movie did. There are people I know - Delhi University students just like the people in the movie - who feel as strongly about corruption and female foeticide and all the other issues plaguing our country, but they take out processions and marches. Yes, perhaps the processions have little effect, but then what effect did what the characters in the movie did have? Sure, at the end, they show interviews with college students, in which the tagline of a generation awakening supposedly comes true - but does anyone think that all these people are going to do anything? I feel strongly about India's vote against Iran. I don't think that we should vote with the US, never mind "enlightened national interest". But that does not mean that I'm going to shoot the External Affairs Minister. (Not that we have one at the moment.) Sure, the shooting of the Defence Minister makes for a good scene, but come on - it's unrealistic.

3. I really liked the camaraderie between the members of the gang in the first half of the movie. But I thought the parallels between the members of the Independence movement and these youngsters were too heavily drawn. Especially the Aslam-Lakshman bit at the end, when they die together.

4. And why oh why oh why was India Habitat Centre made out to be Delhi University? Isn't the DU North Campus beautiful enough for them? Did they have to go the rarified intellectual-snob air of the Habitat Centre to get enough privacy to shoot? It's an insult to the brilliant campus that we have that they chose to go elsewhere.

Other than that, though, the locales were spectacular. Where ever it was that they shot, the places were brilliant. In fact, I believe one of the places was Jodhpur.

And what did other people think of the India Gate scene? That a bunch of insensitive young drunks would find India Gate arousing their latent patriotism is something I find hard to believe. Perhaps it was meant to portray their insensitivity? The loud music, the exaggerated salutes, the drunkenness?

5. What was Om Puri doing in the movie, anyway? He was brilliant as usual, of course, but wasted, with about one and a half scenes to his name.

6. The acting was brillaint. And it's not even Aamir Khan - one of the few mainstream Bollywood heroes who, IMO, can act - who walks away with the glory. Every actor plays his part well; every character is brought to life - from the good-natured Aslam to the playful Sukhi to the sensible Sonia to the brooding Karan Singhania with his secret heartache, not to mention the Hindutva proponent turned actor Lakshman Pandey.

7. I was rather thrilled to spot a guy from my college in the movie. He appears in one of the early scenes, in which auditions are being held for the roles of the freedom fighters in the movie, and does a rather funny Shah Rukh Khan imitation. I guess belonging to one of the best dramatics societies in DU does have its advantages.

8. I probably ought to write this post again, with a bit more venom thrown in. Why do people feel that, just because they're young students watching a movie in a group, they have to behave like total clowns? The actor on screen says, "Mein apko kuch bataoon?" and there are shouts of "Haan ji, please, boliye." This happens in every scene.

9. I also had glimpses of the insensitivity of today's youth that the movie portrays. There is this sequence in which Rajguru and Bhagat Singh are holding a hunger strike in order to get paper and pens for writing. Rajguru puts their demand forward and is clouted mid-sentence by one of the British officers. The scene earns laughs from some of the audience. And that too not the sort of quickly stifled laugh that is a reflex response to something that the brain initially processes as slapstick, but is not; a proper belly laugh with no embarrassment, telling me that these people find it amusing that Indian freedom fighters got slapped around (and worse) by the Britishers.

10. This movie has been hailed by a lot of people as a watershed in Bollywood movies. I'm not sure I agree, but perhaps there is a need for such a movie in the context of India today. We do need to be reminded of what people sacrificed for us to enjoy the freedom that we are enjoying today. More than that, we need to know what it was that drove those people - patriotism of a kind that none of us shall ever know.
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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Ode to a Winter Past

It's starting to get light earlier. The light rays seeping into my room make my brain all confused and it's waking me up earlier and earlier. It's rather amusing to wake up a couple of minutes earlier every day.

Anyway, it's official now - I like Delhi winters better than Delhi summers. Especially when they're like the last one was - cold, but sunny. I love it when it's cold and sunny. You can do all the things that make winter fun - open the windows wide and sleep in the sunshine, sit on a green lawn and bathe in the sunshine, hug yourself against the chilly wind and still see the trees sparkling in the sunshine. I like that.

But I like fog too. Not that we saw much of it this year, thankfully. But fog reminds of chilly shivery mornings waiting for the school bus, with desultory conversation about how freaking cold it is and the knowledge that it will be even colder in the bus with its broken windows.

Considering the way the Delhi summer behaves, it's a wonder anyone could possibly have a debate over whether winter's better than summer. But I don't like the darkness that winter brings. I guess I'm a morning person. Wait, no, I'm not - I hate getting up in the morning. So I guess I'm a late morning-early afternoon sort of person. As it gets later and later, my energy levels go down more and more. So I prefer it when it's properly light by six and when it's still light at seven in the evening. But that is the only thing I like about summer. Plus being able to wear light cotton instead of heavy wool, of course.

So I'm slightly sad that the winter is ending. Delhi breached the thirty degree celsius mark this week and I guess the temperature is only going to keep climbing. And it's only February as yet, for God's sake! It's maddening to watch the summer coming closer and closer and imagine with a shudder the travelling in the heat and the sweat and the over-brightness. I wish the current weather would go on all year around.
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