Movie Review : Rang De Basanti (A Bollywood Movie)

Spoiler Warning!!! Plot details to follow. Stop now if you wish to see the movie.
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Imagine you are board a roller coaster, excited and looking forward to a thrill. And the ride doesn’t disappoint you. The ride is awesome; there are ups and downs and twists throughout the ride until for some inexplicable reason, after 80% of the ride is over, the roller coaster slows to a crawl and ends the fun long before the ride is ultimately over.

That’s how I felt.

The pieces were all set, the characters had been well defined, the story had reached to a crescendo and the “big” moment finally arrives in the movie and SPLAAAAAAAT. The movie falls flat on it’s face.

Please someone explain to me, why oh why was there a need for the protagonist and his friends to take law in their own hands and still be the “heroes” of the movie. And how the hell are their actions comparable to the freedom fighters of India?

Let me explain my dilemma a little better.

There was a movie from Bollywood recently called Yuva (Youth). The director did an excellent job in displaying the antipathy of the political class of India towards her citizens. This, by the way, is how Rang De Basanti starts off. In Yuva, the youth of India are portrayed by three main characters, the bad guy, the happy-go-lucky guy and the good guy, who are shown to react in different ways to the antipathy of the politicians. The bad guy wants to join the politicians and share their power, the happy-go-lucky guy wants to skip town and move to the US and the good guy wants to join politics and try and fight the politicians on their turf. The movie had an excellent closure where the three characters’ path intersect and the outcome is that the happy-go-lucky guy and the good guy join politics (there by scaring the daylights of the political system not used to educated people joining politics) and the bad guy is caught by the police.

Now that WAS an ending I was looking for in Rang De Basanti. But what happens is that the antipathetic politician is KILLED by the main characters in the movie!! The youth in this movie take law into their own hands and worst thing about the whole scenario is that the director wants to equate this action by the youth of 2005 with the actions of the young freedom fighters of 1930s!! It was over the top, sensationalistic and in very poor taste. That’s all the youth of India need to be taught right now…..kill politicians.

And how is this action comparable to what Bhagat Singh, Azad, Bismli and the other did in the 1930s? HOW? What they did was fight tyranny when there was no other discourse. The political leaders (the British) of the 1930s used the system to brutalize and suppress the citizens of India. The local population had no other choice in the 30s other than fight fire with fire (even though Gandhi showed that there is a better way than opposing a regime but that was to come almost a decade later). Now the situation is vastly
different. To begin with, India is a democratic state. Yes, it’s got it’s problems but the solution is within it’s citizen hands. The population needs to be more educated about the politicians who run the show and vote accordingly. Moreover, the laws need to be more stringently implemented against a politicians whenever he/she breaks the law. This again requires that corruption be at very low levels and bureaucracy be more creative. This solution is, again, within the citizens’ hands. But for the citizens to take law into their own hands is like throwing gasoline in fire.

The director basically portrayed violence as a means to an end. I would be the first one to say that violence, sometimes, is necessary. What’s happening in Kashmir requires violence on behalf of the Indian government. But here violence is not used as a subjugation but as a facilitator to a political solution (even though Indian politicians are completely inept in the whole process). The director is saying that to oppose the system, kill the offending politicians. Nothing good will come out of this way. The system will stay the same and the offending politician will be replaced by a similar politician. The way to change the system to work within it. It’s along term solution but that’s the only way.

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