For the first time in my life, I saw an Indian movie where I left the theatre talking about the theme more than the actors. It is not the case like that with Indian movies, where people usually leave talking about how great the actor was, how cool the cinematography was, or how amazing the music was. But with Rang De Basanti, I left more asking myself the questions the movie brought out.
Rang De Basanti (RB) is seen through the eyes of Sue, a British documentary filmmaker who desires to make a documentary based on her grandfather’s diary, which he wrote when he served in India with the British regiment. Sue is touched by her grandfather’s words, as he describes how the freedom fighters, of which Bhagat Singh is one, refused to bow down to pressure to give themselves up. He saw in them a strong passion, a heartfelt conviction to stand for they believed in: freedom.
Sue’s bosses deny her the budget to carry out the film, and so she leave for India, where her Indian friend Sonia, helps her recruit five young guys to act in her movie. Though there is disappointment initially, Sue realizes she needed not have looked further than the circle of friends Sonia is in. Each of these guys, from Dil Jeet (DJ), Aslam, Sukhia, including Sonia, are all the partying kind of guys, hanging out at abandoned areas, singing, dancing and smoking the night away. These people are skeptical about acting in a movie about freedom fighters. They don’t know who they were, nor care to find out about them. But they still agree to act just to help Sue complete her documentary.
A certain tragedy in all their lives leads them to re-evaluate their beliefs and values, and forces them to see and appreciate the freedom fighters, because of whom they have independence and freedom today. Their lives are changed, and as we witness them go through the changes, we see them re-awakening to who they really are, and what their identity is really is.
1. The acting from every single actor in this movie has been amazing. With an ensemble of four guys and two girls, each one of them held their own standing against one another. Usually, the star actor hogs all the limelight (think Shahrukh Khan) but here Aamir Khan becomes a part of the group, which is refreshing, because you are not focused on the star actor, but on the characters they are portraying. Sue, a British actress, speaks Hindi with such fluency, I am sure she will win over the viewers. Soha Ali Khan, of whom I had heard bad reviews, shone like a star here; in particular a crying of scene of hers was probably the most natural acting scene in the movie. The other guys held on their own, with each of them making their character distinct from each other. Aamir Khan once again proves his versatility, be it in Lagaan, Dil Chahta Hai, Mangal Pandey or RB, he is the best actor out there. (Well, I may be biased since he is my favorite actor anyways and I admire his guts to do versatile roles!) There are no one dimensional characters here. Each one of the actors here have a background, and their issues, and we get to see where they are coming from. Like DJ (Khan), we think he is a party-boy, who is hanging around in university still after graduating, but when he opens up to Sue, we realize where he is coming from: he is simply to afraid to go out into the real world. We understand their motives and reasons for behaving the way they do.
2. The music, by the incredible A.R Rahman, who is now working on the musical version for Lord of the Rings, has created music for this movie that accompanies it perfectly. It doesn’t hinder the narrative (like it did in Mangal Pandey), but rather carries the movie forward. I was on a bathroom break during one of the songs, as my friend told me there would be no break in the movie, and as soon as I came back in a hurry to not miss the movie, there was an immediate break! I don’t know what to say.
3. I am just impressed with all the technical stuff Bollywood comes out with. I for once completely forgot I was watching an Indian film, and was convinced this was a Hollywood film, which just happened to have Indian actors. I also love the smooth and slick transition from the old to the new, past to the present.
4. There are several interwoven themes in this movie, all of which have been handled with maturity. Credit goes to the director for what could have been a satirical, or non-believable movie, for making it a realistic movie. Issues and themes revolve around racial tension, corruption, decadent youth, freedom among others. I was left with lots of questions as I left the theatre – How do I change a system that is corrupt already? – What can I do on a personal level to bring about a change? – Do I sit around and do nothing because I know I cannot change the system? – What or who would I sacrifice my life for? – What does it mean to be free? – What does freedom mean to me?
RB is the first hit of the year 2006, and has made 1.08 millions dirhams in the first five says in UAE alone. It’s a fun-filled film with a deeper message at heart. See it as soon as you can, and be prepared to be blown away and left with a deeper appreciation of what it means to be who you are as a person.