{Of all lies, art is the least untrue - Flaubert}

Friday, January 07, 2005


I watched Swades last night. Before I went to Swades, I need to prepare myself, first thing is to leave behind the hatred for Shahrukh Khan and secondly to ignore extremes reviews to form any bias or prejudice and I must say it helped.

Its difficult to write about Swades as this movie is a moral science lesson but things here are done subtly that at times you resonate with those feelings and emotions. Also as per the demands of commercial cinema, sometimes it looks like that stuff is explained to level that it becomes prey of over-simplification or a few times even banality. I have been long thinking about the pace and the ending of Indian movies, here in Swades also, pace tends to go slow especially during the second half. The pace could be improved by some 'intelligent' editing with a dual benefit of not over-expaining things too, but again since the movie starts and goes on (for the first half) with a placid pace, any hurried look would have effected the mood of the movie. Now coming to the ending of the movie, and I feel quiet lost when I ponder on the alternate ending to cinema which fall inside that commercial bracket. But on the end part also, although expected we see a sense of fulfillment and hope which is so necessary to a movie that preach the same. I almost abhor preachy movies, but as I said earlier the moral talk in Swades is done in a rather 'equivocal' way. There are tinges of idealism and its obvious clash with realism, and there are some not so light hearted discussion on some holy-cow-topics like parampara and sanskruti. Swades has lot of emotions but almost all the times it never retorts to cheap melodrama or nationalism.

Plot here is simple. Swades is about an NRI returning India for some emotional hunger and journeying through it, transforming others and getting transformed. It depicts the state of India (particularly villages) in quiet unapologetic way. At times it looks that the movie is dealing with more issues that it can handle. The issues include NRIism ('returning to roots', 'unfinished responsibilities and the guilt associated'), poor infrastructure ( water, electricity, education), caste-system, enterprising, unity etc etc. And there is a obvious 'Lagaan' effect on the movie in the setting and some of the characters.

Of late, Shahrukh Khan has done good work, and looks like he can shed the SRK mask if he wish ( or may be if forced by the directors ). Shahrukh looks restraint, barring one or two scenes where we becomes his usual self. He delivers humor well. The best part of him comes during the rent-collection-journey. The images of waterboy counting coins is real and moving. And this journey is probably the best shot part of the movie.

As far as Gayatri Joshi is concerned, she looks very beautiful. But what annoys is her out-of-parlour look, with every fold of saree and every bit of lips, nails and hair perfectly done. This could have been toned down a little and I am pretty sure Gayatri would have not lost an iota of her charms. On the acting front, she has done a good effort, but just not managing her final break down scene that beautifully.

When we talk of Govarikar movie, we expect that other characters too are decently developed. They are not just say-and-go types. Here too we have Kishori Balal as very motherly Kaveri Amma and Daya Shankar Pandey as US-aspiring, Mela Ram.

I am filled with mixed feeling after watching Swades but the feelings are more for the movie. I shared some of the universal emotions and sometimes moved by the flashes of brilliance. Govarikar should be applauded for a sincere effort and making a thoughtful movie.

And how can we leave the music of the movie, like any ARR stuff, some of the songs will take time to sink in. My favorite is the shehnai version of 'Yeh jo des hai tera'.


Nitish said...

Watching this movie sometimes made me wonder whether it has become a fashion to pan SRK's acting abilities without even watching his work first. I am no SRK fan by any stretch of imagination, but i really liked the restraint that he had shown in this movie. It was worth the wait frankly, after all the KKHH and KKKG kind of bullshit that he has been doing.
Particularly impressive about the movie was the fact Gowarikar did not pander to the pseudo-nationalists and managed to convey his resentment of the fact that we Indians tend to glorify our culture and history and often tend to ignore the realities of today which are haunting our country. Moreover, it was done without any jingoism and in a very respectful manner. The scene where SRK dresses in the dhoti and argues with the villagers about all the afore mentioned things stood out for me. Really nice movie this one.

Great review BTW!

anurag said...

Thanks Nitish.