Sunday, January 29, 2006


I have just finished doing what I have never done before: Watched a movie twice in two consecutive days. That too in Priya, buying tickets above the normal Rs. 45 affair. Before this, I had never watched a movie twice in a theatre, let alone on consecutive days. The movie, as you might have had guessed by now, is Rang De Basanti, and both the times, it has felt like a tight slap on the face.
I am not an avid movie goer, and cant really comment about the technical quality of the movie, but from my point of view, it hit me like nothing else has ever before. RDB has taught me a few things, and I feel exactly like many of my peers had told me it would: You are left speechless. And I was left with a feeling of complete guilt as well. Guilt because it felt that at the ripe old age of 23, I have not achieved nothing, while people like those brave krantikaris had laid down their lives by this time. It actually reminded me of something I had read in the book on World History in my childhood, Julius Ceaser was crying out aloud, at the age of 33, outside a Roman temple. When someone asked him why, he replied, "By this age, Alexander had conquered the world, and I, I have won nothing." Bad comparison, alright, but thats exactly how I feel right now, wanting to cry out aloud.
RDB is a funny movie. It has some of the best subtle comic dialogues. It is also, by far, the darkest movies I have ever seen (And this includes all Hollywood films I have seen). There seems to be no hope, after watching the end. Corruption is here to stay, as are the perennial problems of casteism and communalism. And it exists everywhere, sadly. How many of us newly office goers are not trying to avoid paying the actual tax by coming up with bills we havent actually paid for? And how many of us are willing to pay the entire fine to the government, rather than putting one tenth of the amount into the traffic policeman for a traffic light violation? Not many, I would guess. How can we change society when we ourselves are dishonest in the first place? The first step then, is to change ourselves, and later attempt the change in society, which itself throws up many challenges.
RDB seems like two movies merge into one, and while I watched the first half, it seemed that nothing could overshadow the first half performance. But by the end of the movie, the period before the intermission had slipped into oblivion, and all you could remember was the deep patriotic message that the movie was trying to convey. And maybe it was not exactly a patriotic message. It was a message of the triumph of the Human Spirit, and what can it achieve. The movie was actually about how can people change the society. However, these people succeed, because they had nothing else to live for. Can a normal human being produce such a service? I doubt it. For there are other things as important, if not more important, than freedom. To roughly quote Vikram Seth in From Heaven Lake, his travellouge through China, (Please note that the year was 1982, when China's human rights record was in tatters, but its economy had become strong. India, then was still following the long lost dream of a classless society, which left the economy weak) "I was asked in a paper in Stanford, if I had a choice between India and China, as a place of birth in my next birth, what will I choose? I wrote that if I was living in the conditions that I am today, I would definitely prefer India. But if I were among the poorer 35% households of India, those who live everyday at barely Rs. 10 I would prefer China, because even though freedom, and liberty, while being great virtues, are not enough to buy you bread and butter." Can people having a decent lifestyle actually fight for a better cause? I dont think so.
I liked RDB, because it taught me the following things about life, or it helped me deduce the following (when I thought I knew all):
1) Any person has it in him to be a superhero: All it takes are the right circumstances, and making the toughest (which is also the easiest) decision. When life becomes futile, the easiest thing to do is to end it. However, like DJ says, all that is different is the end.
2) When love happens, it is best to leave it to the almighty. If anything has to happen it will. Try your best, but wait. God sees the truth but waits.
3) Life starts only after college. You define life till you start working. After that life starts defining you.
4) You only realise the impact of things after they happen somewhere close to you, or when someone close to you is effected.
5) Determination, with the right amount of hard work and planning, can lead to anything.
6) Corruption is a big issue in India (This was surprisingly not my view earlier), and
7) The common youth of India is not very sure about India's past, or even the present. How many of us, for example, know of 379 as the official figure for the Jallianwallah Bagh tragedy?
I want to say out a lot more, but I guess I shall stop for now. Its almost 4 at night, and I have to be at office by 10 a.m. tomorrow morning.


Musafir... said...

Very often it happens that one is so caught up in illusion that everything that is presented before seems to look right, RDB is a classic example of the case. The director, by means of some such deceptive assumptions was able to convince the masses of something which cannot be classified as being sane in practical terms. One of the funniest aspects of the movie was it that it tried to legitimize these so called 'krantikari youth of modern times' , and interestingly enough, one has carefully worked out the background for it {consider police beating peacefully protesting people right in front of Rashtrapati Bhawan and The Parliament, an event unlikely enough in this damocratic nation, and noticeably the government is shown to comprise exclusively of polarized, bhagwadhari like minded extremists, and there is no hint of an opposition at all } now obviously, such an act is expected to trigger anguish among the audience, and in turn they tend to ignore the seriousness of these youth killing the defense minister of india, an act which could result in the whole country becoming unstable. Secondly, to what extent can this highly irresponsible act of them be accepted, for logic would acknowledge that the defense minister and your office goer are on the same footing, both being 'wrong' {and hence all officegoers should be shot ?}.
I Agree that this film was dark and remains so till the end, for it does not provide any visible working solution to anything.

zubin said...

[Nikhil] I am in no way justifying what they did, but I liked the way in which they tried to tell the people about their act. It was pretty brave to go right through death like that. And the movie has solutions, its just that we are too shortfocussed to notice that.
And yeah, I forgot to mention, the background score of the movie was one of the best I have ever heard. And there was another, probably the most important reason, I liked this movie, but its so obvious, I had rather not write it. All in all, the movie was a total puller.

ankur said...

I tend to believe in Nikhil's views about the movie.I think the movie comprised of two phases-the first half made you identify with the protagonists and their fellings of indecisiveness,frustrations,lack of direction and pride in their own country.And the fact that it took an English girl to remind them of their rich lineage and heritage made you feel ashamed at ur own indifference.
I saw two movies on successive days last week.The first one Munich with its country and land centric theme made you feel patriotic and at times apologetic.Its philosophy epitomised by these words of an Israeli mother
"Whatever it takes,whatever it took,we finally ahve a place on earth."
But RDB with its sad ending makes you realize that nothing actually can be changed and plunges you again in the depths of pessimism and hopelessness.

The fact that the protagonists realised that something was amiss in their life and decided to do something
was good but the director went too far in corressponding British India with the independent India.This kind of needless killing can be explained in the context of totalitarian and repressive regimes but can hardly be attributed to country like India which doesnt even believe in killing most deadly of terrorists whom it releases at the whims of hijackers instead.It took away the whole concept of realism which made you identify with the movie at the first place.
For surely each and everyone has some justification for the action he/she commits.For ex in MUNICH when an Israeli Mosaad agent and his Palestinian counterpart talk unknowingly about 'their' home,it is difficult to take sides.I am sure that the people who killed Mahatama Gandhi,Rajiv Gandhi,Israeli athletes and actions of Phoolan Devi had the same justification.But can we compare put them on par with Bhagat Singh then.Or the killers who act on the fancies of their faith?
I am not criticising the movie as a whole for surely it had its plus points-with a good soundtrack,humorous situations and oh so cute Sue(and yeah u really find such ppl here who make you feel ashamed at the level of affection they have for 'your' country)but I still cldnt help feeling despondent and dissapointed at the end of it all.Maybe thts what the director intended but I have a feeling tht he didnt and thats where I think the movie failed.

shaurya vaani said...

achcha perspective hai.

maine bhi apni views di hai apne blog par.aapki opinion chahunga.

Hemu said...

Finally got a man who liked the movie .. n the big thing start thinking the way the movie was present !!

What should i say .... i am speechless !!

Nice discussion through :)

The Admirer said...

a good one frm "me, myself and I"..

"rUPi" living @.......y said...

u r absolutely rite.... evn I thought to do smthin for India (my country) after watchin da movie. n even i'v started doin this frm myself... now onwards .... i m tryin to b loyal to india n indian govt.... bt for many things v hav restrictions as after watchin da movie i'v thought to prepare for IAS as I earlier thot to do durin IIt... be due to parents pressure i cant do it.... bt i'll definitely do smthin for india by different means... n for that i'v decided for sure to join indian politics in my life.... n u'll see man if everybdy starts frm himself...this situation is gonna change...n believe me india will be da best country to live for.. in all regards....
n best line which i liked of movie is "ek pair past mein hai or ek future mein hai tabhi to hum saari zindagi apne present par moot te rehte hain...."