Monday, February 20, 2006

Rang De Basanti: The Voice of the Youth

Rang De Basanti is an awesome movie. Though it carries an age-old theme of “awakening the nationalistic spirit within the youth”, the movie still exhibits a different élan.

The movie revolves around five students of Delhi University, who are selected by a young British filmmaker to act out the revolutionary freedom fighters of India’s freedom movement. The British filmmaker, Sue, being played by a British actress Alice Patten, wants to make this film on the basis of her late grandfather’s memoirs, who was an officer in the British India government. Her efforts are well facilitated by Sonia (Soha Ali Khan), who is determined to help Sue in her filmmaking.

After several unsuccessful auditions of DU students, Sue comes across a group of four boisterous guys – JD, Karan, Aslam, and Sukhi – along with one serious-looking Laxman Pandey, and deems them fit for the roles.

The four brats are quite pessimistic about the future of their country, and are alien to ideas of patriotism and nationalism. All they know is to live one day at a time, and enjoy it to the brim. On the other hand, Laxman Panday is a member of a fanatic group, who lives puritanically by the ideals of his Party, which includes opposing all forms of western influences. The quadruple shares a belligerant relationship with him.

Initially these young brats would not take their part seriously, but gradually, over a period of time as they dig deep into the historic roles they are playing, they start realizing the sacrifices made by the likes of Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad, etc; and in a very subtle way start cultivating the sense of being an Indian. This subtle transformation is well pictured in the movie.
The story takes a tragic turn when their friend, Flt Lt Ajay Rathod, is killed is a MIG crash. Besides his death, what fuels their anger is the country's Defense Minister alleging the late pilot of reckless flying, instead of accepting the actual reason of the crash – the use of low quality aircraft parts. This incident makes them realize the futility of the system, and they now start seeing their part in trying to change it.

Helpless against the Establishment, they go on the kill the Defense Minister – their inspiration being the revolutionist of India’s freedom struggle, for they too adhered to violent means for “drawing the attention”. However, the Minister’s death is mourned by the sycophant media, and he is dubbed as a “martyr”.

You got to watch the movie to know what they do to justify their killing the Minister, and in the end how these hedonist youngsters get killed by the Police, before they deliver a nation-wide appeal.

The movie has an impressive star cast. Leading from the front in Aamir Khan, who plays DJ (short for Diljeet), a typical Punjabi guy with a quite natural Delhi-Punjabi accent. DJ wants to make a mark in this world, but is aware of the fact that “achchey achchey DJ piss gayey” (a good number of people like him got screwed in this world). He, like his friend, is uncertain about life and its aspirations. He just goes on with the flow.

Siddharth Suryanarayan plays Karan Singhania: a neglected child of a millionaire father. He is polite, but clueless, and like his friend, is pessimistic about India. He has not qualms about spending his father's money with both hands.

Aslam (being played by Kunaal Kapoor), lives in Old Delhi, speaks Delhi-Urdu (Aaiyo, Jaiyo, Mat Kariyo...), is generally polite, sports a non-religious beard, abstains from alcohol, and is frustrated by the narrow mentality of his orthodox Muslim family. He mix up well with his non-Muslim friends, and his being from a different (and minority) community doesn’t hamper his confidence a wee bit. He does some poetry, but beyond that he, too, is uncertain.

The character of Sukhi is played by Sharman Joshi, who is the comic hero of the gang. Like DJ and Karan, he drinks and get involved in post-drinking escapades. He is afraid of death, but will lot let his friends take on the fatal mission without him. Without his friends, his life is null.

Laxman Pandey is a fanatic; he works for a fanatic political organization, and believes in moral policing. He hates Aslam – wouldn’t sit together and eat. He isn’t the boisterous kind, and takes his time to mix up freely with others, and to befriend Aslam.

Soha Ali Khan plays Sonia: the DU student who facilitates all arrangements for Sue’s film, and is an inevitable member of the group. Sonia is Ajay’s fiancée; she moved around with all her male friends with full dignity and integrity, and commands a lot of love and respect.

The movie has emotion-stirring dialogues. I particularly liked the one by DJ, which he delivers with a good Punjabi tilt: “Jindagii jine ke do hi tarikkey hote hain, ek – jo ho raha hain use hone do, ya phir use badalne ki koshish karo”. The music is good, too, especially the Rang De Basanti… and Pathshala number. I particularly liked the Rang De Basanti… song with the imagery of rustic Punjab.

RDB has a clear message for the youth – try and change the system if you think it’s not perfect. It’s your country, and you are responsible for everything good and bad in it.

Point well taken, Sir!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Who can fix better - Azhar or Wasim?

My apologies for a rather long hiatus. Here we go again...

In his "diary", ace editor of Outlook Magazine, Vinod Mehta, quoted Wasim Akram as being "the mother of all match-fixers", who is still being coveted by several sports channels, while the modest Hyderabadi, Mohd. Azharuddin was completely denounced by ESPN and Star Sports after the he was found guilty by the CBI for match fixing.

Vinod Mehta is not exaggerating when he terms Wasim as "the mother of all match fixers". Wasim was, time and again, alledged by his own countrymen for the grave malpractice. Leading from the front was Aamir Sohail, the troubled baby of Pakistan cricket, followed by Rashid Latif, and others. But somehow, Wasim managed to get a "clean chit" and continued to play cricket till he gracefully retired.

I am not the best person to comment on as to why the PCB helped Wasim Akram Chaudhry to roll all the allegations under the carpet, but the following thing might have helped for sure: his superb performance as Pakistan's captain, his lethal left-arm fast bowling, and a good all round performance. Wasim was, no doubt, the best left arm pace bowler ever to play international cricket, and when the allegations surfaced, he hadn't really passed his prime. So, perhaps PCB needed Wasim to play for the team and keep performing. After all, who would have liked to loose an awesome cricketer like him, who could make the ball (and the batsman) dance to his in-swinging and "yorking" tunes.

But this does not bury the fact that Wasim did fixed quite a lot of matches - making good sum of money, and leading his team to loose quite a few matches. The PCB not helding him accountable speaks a lot about their own accountability, while on the Indian side Azhar (who had passed him prime when found guilty) was banned for life, and Ajay Jadeda (who could very well have gone on to become India's captain) was given a stick for 5 years - thus, giving a dismal and sudden end to his career.

The following is what Mr. Mehta has to say: