Rang De Basanti Hindi Movie Review
Does one paint this intense movie yellow, or black, or tricolour? It's hard to decide. It certainly merits all the attention it's drawn, and in all likelihood there's much more to follow where that came from.
The first half of the movie is no great shakes. Although it's slickly done, with some excellent ambience scenes of campus life in Delhi, one can't help thinking one is stuck in a slightly cross-eyed version of Dil Chahta Hai meets Mangal Pandey, with snazzy technicolour footage of contemporary India being peppered with sepia-toned flashbacks of pre-Independence violence.
The story begins with Sue (Alice Patten), a student from London who is denied the funds to film a documentary on Jallianwalla Bagh and its aftermath, but decides to come to Delhi anyway to complete her dream project. She has a personal interest in the issue, having discovered a diary belonging to her grandfather, an officer in the British Army who sensitively describes the horrors of political violence in early twentieth-century India. She reaches the beautiful grounds of India Habitat Centre, Delhi. Enter our heroes: Sonia (Soha Ali Khan), DJ (Aamir Khan), Karan (Siddharth Narayan), Aslam (Kunal Kapoor),and Sukhi (Sharman Joshi). Sonia helps Sue do auditions for her movie, and Sue does the obvious by rejecting all the hopeful wannabes and convincing DJ and his clique to take up the parts of her central characters. Cynical almost-dropouts who would rather hang out listening to loud music and guzzling beer than attend classes, the group is apparently meant to portray ‘typical' university students in India. A sworn enemy of the group is Laxman Pandey (Atul Kulkarni), a young man with passionately nationalistic political ideals who hates the cool guys because he thinks they have no sense of Indian culture or propriety. Sue forces a reconciliation between Laxman and the others when she recruits him into her project too.
It's all mostly song and dance and drinking and reckless driving until the intermission, the only scene of significance to the plot being Ajay Rathod's (Madhavan) last night with his friends before he goes off to the IAF. He lectures them about the importance of being devoted to one's country and of being willing to give up one's life for the country, yadda yadda, blah blah. Naturally this model hero has a beautiful betrothed in the form of Sonia; the presence of a grieving fiancée is instrumental in jerking tears out of the audience's eyes with when the hero goes down in flames.
With Ajay's death in the much-debated MIG crash post-intermission, the plot gets around to doing what it had started out to do. Horrified that their friend's death is being attributed to an error by the pilot rather than a fault with the machine, Ajay's mother (Waheeda Rehman), Sonia, Sue, DJ and the rest spearhead a peaceful protest at India Gate, demanding the resignation of the Defence Minister. Naturally this does not work, and instead of being granted their demands they are lathi-charged and beaten repeatedly, which lands Waheeda Rehman in the hospital in a comatose state. The crux of the movie is this: what the friends do next to ensure that they attempt to get justice for Ajay's memory. Without giving away any plot details with reference to what happens next, it's safe to say that it involves the question of how far one would go to claim justice.
The actors have done more than decent jobs. Narayan, Kapoor, Joshi and Kulkarni are as finely etched-out as Aamir Khan's character, and the movie is by no means a one-man show. All of them show character growth during the course of the movie. DJ goes from being a narcissistic dare-devil cool guy on campus to a politically conscious activist. Aamir Khan, as always, gets completely into the role and plays it with authenticity (the Punjabi accent has been much-lauded) and professionalism. Karan goes from chain-smoking rich brat to the quietly passionate spokesperson for the group. Siddharth Narayan mak