Before viewing the film, I knew next to nothing about Rang De Basanti, except for that it:
1)Starred the ultra-talented Aamir Khan.
2)Was a highly respected film, receiving postive reviews from bloggers, critical acclaim, and several award nominations/wins.
3)Made a political and social comment, and although I had no idea regarding what, I knew it generated a lot of discussion and gave RDB a substantial mark in the history of Indian cinema.
4)Had a cool name. I didn't know what Rang de Basanti meant at the time, but I loved the way it sounded(By the way, thanks to IMDB.com, now I know it means Paint it Yellow (Saffron), a statement that represents being sacrificed for a good cause. The color yellow is also used frequently in the film. Wow. Its even cooler now!)
Sold. I would have purchased it based on #1 alone.
I was cautious about going into the film blindly, especially with such high expectations, as I had with Lagaan. Although I enjoyed that film, I totally overanalyzed it and walked away feeling it wasn't what I expected. But after I wrote the post and started reading the comments, I realized I missed the beauty of Lagaan--its uniqueness is what sets it apart, and I didn't appreciate that at the time.
With Rang de Basanti, I wasn't going to let that happen. I remained patient through the first half, which reminded me a tad bit of Dil Chata Hai. This wasn't a good thing, since Rang de Basanti lacked the character development and chemistry the friends in that film shared. Even Aamir Khan's DJ felt like a milder Aakash...
But, I chose to cast those feelings aside and remain patient, knowing something big was going to happen and whirl the balance of the film in a completely different direction. Boy, was I glad I kept the faith. Shortly after intermission, it all came together, and I realized this film was nothing like Dil Chata Hai. In fact, it was unlike any film I had ever seen, and I was amazed in the turn of events as well as the clever plot which was unraveling before my eyes.
The film begins when a British filmmaker named Sue(played by Alice Patten) decides to make a movie in India based on her grandfather's diary, a prison guard during the Indian Independence Movement. She travels to India to begin shooting with her friend Sonia (Soha Ali Khan--Saif Ali Khan's sister, for those of you who are like me and did not know). Sonia helps Sue find her cast for the film--four of Sonia's own closest college friends, DJ, Karan, Aslam, and Sukhi(Aamir Khan, Siddarth, Kunal Kapoor, and Sharman Joshi, respectively). Later the crew adds Laxman (Atul Kulkarni), although not without some conflict. We see the friends laugh, cry, have fun, all things we can expect college students to do. This occupies most of the first half, although the film is peppered with flashbacks from Sue's grandfather's diary, which later transform to our college friends in character.
If you've seen Rang de Basanti, you know its much more than that, as the core of the film's message starts to really take shape in the second half. But for the sake of those who haven't seen the film, the rest is better left unsaid--Just please trust me on this one and see it for yourself!
I've said it before and I'll say it again--Aamir Khan is truly an amazing actor. But I realized after watching Rang De Basanti that I respect him for something else, too: It seems like he chooses to do films that have a political or social message that he feels strongly about. Just look at the evidence--his role in Fanaa and controversial comments he made surrounding it, the strong Indian unity and triumph during British rule in Lagaan, the sensitive issue in Taare Zameen Par (a film I haven't seen but I know is about a child with a disabilty--which definitely strikes a sensitivity chord with me). Unfortunately, I don't know Aamir Khan personally, so I can't say whether my statement is valid or not, but I just get the impression that he chooses projects which mean something to him. And, wow, I really love him for that.
The rest of the cast was amazing, and all deserve individual credit, but since there are so many of them, I'll refrain from doing so--its not really necessary in this film. I will say that I heard Shahrukh Khan was supposed to play the part of Sonia's boyfriend, but was unavailable to do so (the part was ultimately given to Madhavan). I have mixed feelings about that--it could have been an amazing opprotunity for him to do something different and do it well, or his star power could have bogged down his ability to play a supporting character. It would have been either great or awful, but I guess we'll never know, and that's okay.
I thought some of the songs in the film were pretty, but sometimes felt a little bored while watching--weird for me because I'm not one of those people who get antsy during song-time in Hindi films. I usually watch them as closely as I do the dialouges. But, for some reason, I found my mind wandering in this film's musical moments.
(***SPOILER*****)I just have to say the ending is extremely powerful and effective, and I mean that in more than just content but on a technical level as well. The director played this out brilliantly--I'll never forget the last few frames...or DJ and Karan's smiles. Not to mention Karan's flashback of his last moment with his father. Powerful. I was literally in floods of tears.
I guess this is a short post because a film like this truly speaks for itself. I can't even crack any sarcastic jokes or comment on Kunal Kapoor's hottness, because it just doesn't seem relevant(but hot he is--ok, I couldn't help it).
Just go see it. It is definitely a one of a kind film.
Text © 2008 Nida Nazir
Bitten By Bollywood
Dil apna aur preet parai (1960)
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