Rang De Basanti

Here's a decent Hindi flick after a long time. A good, taut script and the right casting make this a film worth buying the DVD for. It’s a coming-of-age movie, much like DCH, but with a ‘cause’ added on, a la Swades. It’s a story of 5 young college students hanging out together in an urban apathetic cocoon and whose lives are irrevocably changed when a ‘gori’ comes in to make a film about some of India’s freedom fighters. The 5 students along with a rabid Shiv-Sainik kind of character (Atul Kulkarni in a nicely crafted role) are chosen to play the leads in the film. Starting out cynical and not really caring about the Bhagat Singhs and the Chandrashekhar Azads, the students slowly get into the skin of the characters and when they face a real-life ‘cause’, they soon get drawn into it and make a decision to do something to change things. This decision and the consequences they face form the climax of the movie.

To me the best moments of the film are in the casual ‘hanging out’ scenes of the 5 protagonists. The dialogues here are witty, casual and very real – there is a huge dose of Punhinglish, if that is a word (a mix of Punjabi, Hindi and English). That is the way students in Delhi speak, I assume. The inter-cutting of the movie with the ‘film-in-film’ of India’s freedom struggle comes out nicely in some scenes and quite badly in others. There is something vaguely obscene about drawing parallels between Chandrashekhar Azad and Amir Khan’s DJ character. But that is what the movie does and to be fair, the script does not completely condone the vigilante justice it propounds. It does offer ‘better’ solutions – join the IAS or politics or become a police officer. But these are just words. What the protagonists do and become heroes for is not something we want our children to emulate. And there-in lies my issue with the film. Yuva for all its faults, I thought, offered a ‘right’ solution. RDB takes the easy way out.

But I liked the film, nonetheless. It tackles issues that I haven’t seen in any Hindi film before – the scandal of the MIG21 crashes and the ghetto-isation of Muslim communities are 2 that come immediately to mind. It does this but does not forget to entertain, unlike a Swades. All in all, it’s a good tale and quite well told.


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