WHEN Rakesh Omprakash Mehra made the movie Aks it was out rightly rejected by most. Some later called it a classic that would be remembered later. So when Rang De Basanti was released there were not many expectations.
The story revolves around a British woman (played by Alice Patten) who wants to make a documentary on the Indian freedom struggle based on her grandfather's diary involving young revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh. She comes to India and with the help of an Indian friend (Soha Ali Khan) starts on her project. In the process of selecting people suited for her characters she changes the perspective of a college going fun-loving group. The film itself evolves with her documentary. Nothing sums this up better than Alice's dialogues in the movie, "Shayad ab wo jaag uthe the." [ENGLISH: Maybe they've awaken!]
The constant back and forth between the past and present reflects the struggle that the characters are going through in the film. Through his film Mehra has both managed to tackle the ills of the Indian society and given the youth of India a social commentary to ponder over.
The script of the movie holds it together. Unlike most patriotic movies the dialogues by Prasoon Joshi and Rensi D Silva don't go overboard but still have the desired effect. One stands out, "Koi bhi desh perfect nahin hota use behtar banana padta hai" [No country is perfect, it has to be made better].
Cinemotography by Binod Pradhan is top-notch.
The youthful music is in keeping with the mood of the film. The man behind it, AR Rahman, has given another memorable score. I especially like his take on Ram Prasad Bismill's famous Urdu poem 'Sarfaroshi ki tamanna' [Desire for sacrifice]. It's very original and very inspiring. It's difficult to choose between the rest of the songs and that speaks for his effort. RDB is another jewel in Rahman's crown.
The acting honours are evenly divided amongst the supporting cast. Steven Mackintosh as the jailor Mr McKinley acts with his eyes. He gives a certain respect to his character. Alice Patten as his grand-daughter is the surprise package of the film. She charms you with her sensitive portrayal and her accented Hindi.
Soha Ali Khan as Sue's friend Sonia makes full use of such an early opportunity in her career. Her character provides her ample scope to display her acting skills. She does it really well. Her on-screen chemistry with her friends is worth a mention.
Atul Kulkarni, Kunal Kapoor, Sidharth, and Sharman Joshi have given career defining performances. Madhavan is a different class and has proved it again as Flight Lt. Ajay Rathod in the movie. Waheeda Rehman, Anupam Kher, Kiron Kher and Om Puri are seasoned actors who shine in their small roles.
That said it all the film belongs to Amir Khan. How Amir comes up with performances like these so often in his career is something remarkable. He makes you laugh, sing, cry and think. You can't help falling in love with the character of DJ played to absolute perfection by Amir. The scene on the dining table where DJ looks at Sue, in both surprise and admiration for her Hindi speaking abilities, shows Amir's depth of acting.
On the downside, the climax is a little far fetched but it did succeed in giving the desired impact.
Rang De Basanti is more than a film. It's an inspirational piece of visual art that every Indian should watch.