We, The People

In one word – fantabulous! The movie got a bonus point from me, even before its release, for getting the punctuation in the tag line right. Now that I have seen it, I can say that there is hardly anything that it did not get right. Fine, it is longish, a little on the slow side, and has a few too many songs. But hey, there is not a single dull moment in this three-and-a-half hour journey. Plus, the super-melodic background score makes Swades a 'must watch' movie.

The director tells the tale in an extremely convincing manner; he has paid attention to the minutest details and I love this in a movie. (Example, when Mohan gets hit by a duster in the classroom, we can see the mark on his brow in the next couple of scenes.) The characters are not larger than life, they are not overly emotional, they use logic, they are realistic, they are like you and me. (Example, Mohan does not drop his whole world as soon as he falls in love with a belle. He ruminates over his choices, finishes his pending jobs before taking the plunge.) The director has done a splendid job of conveying his message without using words. Two scenes that immediately come to my mind are, Mohan in the boat after meeting the weaver and Mohan buying water from an urchin on the railway station.

Why is it that people did not like this movie? I think because it is too close to reality. There are no lectures or poetry on patriotism, there are no huge sacrifices for love of the nation or a girl for that matter. If this hot-shot scientist from NASA had unfolded a paper from his pocket and recited a four-paragraph long poem when his decision was questioned by his boss, maybe the movie would have been a hit. When a friend asked Mohan what he would do in India, his extremely logical response was that he might take up a post in Vikram Sarabhai Space Center or stay attached with NASA and work from India. I am sure, if he had said that he would teach the poor kids in a remote village, help the downtrodden get a better life or something on those lines, audience would have clapped themselves silly. We are not used to Shahrukh Khan saying lucid things, we expect him to deliver radical (read unrealistic) dialogues.

I read some where that movie tries to drive its point home by stating it out loud in every frame. Well, the way I see it, if Mohan had not made repeated efforts to drive the point home to the villagers who talked of sanskars aur parampara all the time, it would seem unnatural that he could bring about any change at all. Come on people, have you ever seen anyone change their way of thinking after listening to one powerful dialogue?

Some people did not like the movie because it seemed like a documentary. I liked the movie because it seemed like a documentary. No drama, no thrill, just an exceedingly well-recited story of common people.


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