Books, Lit Fests, News, Movies, Art, Fashion and TV of course... "I must say that I find television very educational. The minute somebody turns it on, I go to the library and read a book." - GROUCHO MARX

My Photo

I'd write more, like you said I should. If only, there was more to me.

Monday, January 30, 2006


A R Rahman's sound track and then the superbly edited trailers had me all exicted about the release of Rang De Basanti. If you weren't able to catch them on telly, there's the brilliantly done website to fall back upon -

Clearly, the marketing wizards had done a great job of promoting this film. What else could explain the Indian crowd that turned up at Jade (a new home for Indian movies in sunny Singapore) on a Sunday morning.

True, the long Chinese New Year weekend loomed, but there was the decisive Third and final cricket India-Pakistan Test match in Karachi - one that will hopefully prove to be a decider of sorts. Never mind that, many of them, just like us, put cricket aside to see the colours of passion which would hopefully unleash in their weekend movie of choice.

I, for one, wait for the VCD releases to watch the select Hindi movies in the comfort of my home. Something has to be truly exciting to spur me into action to get to a theatre on time. In fact, the last movie that drew me to the movie hall was Parineeta and that didn't disappoint. So you get the idea!

Rang De Basanti, had me truly excited. In fact, I even wrote up the story pre-release, once the publicity pictures were out on a Reuters feed. So it was on a beautiful Sunday morning, hubby and bachchas in tow, we made it to what we sincerely believed would be a rocking good movie.

Since I don't like criticising things all out, let me begin with the great parts.

Even before we had made it to the show, Rahman's music and Harshdeep Kaur's lilting rendition of 'Ik Onkaar' had rejuvenated interest in the Jap Ji Saab in my half Mangolarean (read Hindu), half Sikh home. To the extent that my three year can now recite it in his pidgin Punjabi before lulling himself to sleep. For that spiritual awakening in a little one, I shall remain eternally grateful to the makers of this show.

Then there is Daler Mehndi's title song, that has even the most rooted people wanna party. And Rahman and Naresh Iyer's Roobaroo lingers long after the movie is over. The music rocks!

Speaking of the actors, Alice Patten as Sue makes an impressive debut in the Indian film industry. Wonder where those Hindi night classes were held! Kirron Kher, the stellar mother, who most recently gave a heart-rending performance in Khamosh Paani, shines yet again as Aamir Khan's Sardarni mom. Watching Kunal Kapoor as Aslam in the movie, made it hard to believe this was the same guy who did that entirely forgettable role in an even more forgettable movie - Meenaxi. Page 3 journo Atul Kulkarni makes the switch as the hardliner Laxman perfectly. Sharman Joshi as Sukhi was endearing, though at the end of the day, this was clearly an Aamir Khan movie.

Playing a character that was a good 15 years younger than his real self, Aamir as D.J. was exceptional.

The movie made a fabulous start. I enjoyed the audition bits, the campus scenes and the parallels between Indians ruled by the British and Indians ruled by corrupt politicians today. The transition of the five college friends from a meaningless to a meaningful existence was done brilliantly. The settings were fabulous, it was almost like seeing Punjab in all its mustard finery. The lead up to the interval almost had me on the edge of my seat. The candle lit procession to mark Air Force pilot Ajay's death brought tears to my eyes, but what followed after that rapidly turned out to be an exercise in futility.

At a time, when the pen is rocking India, when it takes the creative genius of minds like Aniruddha Bahal to expose all that is wrong with the Indian polity, the killing of a Defence Minister to make a point makes absolutely no sense, at least to me. To think these are students of Delhi University who heed to the call of 'Maar Dalo' uttered by none other than the pretty Sonia (Soha Ali Khan) and that none of the other friends can rationalise against it seems simply insane. And from then on the script rapidly loses its focus. Added to that is the fact that Sue who was stuck like glue to the group, conveniently goes amiss when that call is made and then re-appears with a bad feeling in her heart.

Yes, we need a revolution to stir things, battles need to be fought, but what we need is a revolution of the Bahal, Cobrapost kind. True, there are no parallels, but as Bahal rightly highlighted in his article in India Today (Jan 2, 2006), it was questions like these that made it to Parliament and shook the very core of our Parliamentary ethics:

- Has the Ministry lifted the 1962 ban imposed on the book 'For Whom The Bell Tolls' by Ernest Hemingway and the 1975 ban on Ken Kensey's book 'One Flew over The Cuckoo's Nest' and Hunter Thompson's 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas' and if so when?

Given that, stuff like this is happening in modern day India, makes it heard to digest what goes on in the contemporary world that unravels in 'Rang'. I agree the system is far from perfect (though one could argue no system ever is), but no longer do battles need to come stained with blood of the literal type. As the question is rightly raised in the movie itself - what makes these guys different from terrorists? The answers provided by the script writers are far from convincing.

After all, as the lesson was preached so many years ago - blood only begets more blood, violence more violence.

And so by the end of the show, the message of the movie was totally lost on me. I wanted to leave the theatre with the same passions that had moved my heart when I saw 'Lagaan'.

This time round, I was merely shaken, not stirred. Pity about that!