Rang De Basanti (Hindi)Cast: Amir Khan,Soha Ali Khan, Kunal Kapoor, Alice PattenDirector: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra
Post-"Swades" Bollywood has often flirted with reality. Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra takes the next step and dares to blend the real with the entertainer. What's more, he succeeds. His film about a generation that has lost the likes of Bhagat Singh and Chandrashekhar Azad to the sieve of memory, is pleasant even poignant, yet never so serious as to become a sermon. That is a no mean achievement considering the fact that the likes of Ashutosh Gowariker and John Matthan recently lost their way in the same lane.
Mehra talks of Right wing Hindutva elements. He talks of Muslim fears and the constant test of patriotism they are asked to take. He talks of corruption in the highest quarters - the MIG plane crash is an interesting aside that becomes the centrepoint to carry the narrative forward. He talks of a generation married to cola and bubblegum, and far removed from the times when the word India stirred them.
No jingoism here
He talks of a generation that has its own priorities - discos, jobs, jeans. The good thing is the freedom fighters, the revolutionaries stay in the background and enhance the symbolic value of the film. The foreground is for youngsters, with their own dreams, yet somewhere down the line all sons of the soil.
None of them launches into a harangue on patriotism, yet slowly, almost imperceptibly, they speak the language of India, they mirror our concerns.
They step out to root out corruption. Of course, the end seems contrived but the means are all appropriate.
Credit to Mehra for giving us a reality check with a film inside a film - the youngsters here are all supposed to be acting in a film being made by a foreign filmmaker out to discover the soul of India.
The pace might seem slow but he fills each framewith such energythat everything grows on you gradually.
ZIYA US SALAM