Rang De Basanti
It is that time of the year again! August 15, I mean. Debates will flood the social media and news channels debating whether we are truly free. There will be a lot of jingoism doing the rounds and it is that time of the year when I would like nothing but stay away from all that toxicity. Because at the end of the day it is just that! Two minutes of fame and nasty toxicity. My family and I prefer to spend the national holidays immersed in watching every patriotic movie ever made. No points for guessing which movie is a constant on the list though. It is, obviously, Rang De Basanti.
Ever since the first time I watched this movie on a rainy August 15 afternoon, in 2006, I have made it a yearly routine to do so, every year without fail. I’ll sometimes watch it two times in a row (in case you hadn’t noticed it yet, I am kinda weird that way). There is a host of different patriotic, made for the country movies to choose from. So what makes this one so different from the others. I will try to explain what my feelings for this movie are. Like every other piece that I have presented here, this is less of a review and more of what I feel about the movie. And here I go!
Fifteen years on and I don’t think many have not watched the movie. So I will not bore you with the synopsis and the plot (will try to keep it spoiler-free, just in case you missed it). The first thing that hooked me was the soundtrack. Every song is hauntingly beautiful and it leaves its mark on you long after it is over. The lyrics stay with you, rouse you. Few things tug your heart and make you think of the burning issues around you. Rang De Basanti is one such movie..
It starts with Sue (Alice Patten) coming to New Delhi, India, to make a documentary on the lives of five freedom fighters, based on her grandfather’s journal. Shuttling between timelines(?) as Sue gets five youthful, careless friends to enact the roles, which somehow leaves a mark on all of them. This becomes evident when a tragedy strikes. These boys all turn into rebels with a cause and try to take on a system rooted in corruption, all on their own. Their loyalty towards their own country, their selflessness and that undaunting courage is something that we all hope to have but probably will only dismiss it saying, “Ye toh baas movies me hota hai!” (It only happens in the movies!). But what about the men they were portraying. Wasn’t that real? Didn’t that happen?
The movie never seems to drag. Things keep happening and events that will shape what will eventually happen happens. Never for a moment do we see or feel anything that could transform this movie into a sappy romance, as most of Bollywood movies tend to do. It is evident that Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, the master storyteller he is, has woven his magic. The cast, the music, the background score, the scenery all come together to catch the audience’s attention and hold it long after the movie is over. The movie tugs at that part of my heart that tends to want to let lose that vigilante mode and bring the perpetrators to their knees. But then I reel it in. Mainly because I do not live in a movie.
Rang De Basanti is one movie that manages to put out the message loud and clear “You want change, you’ve got to be it!” The go get it done attitude of the friends, their courage, their loyalty and that final act of sacrifice always manages to make me break down into nasty, snot-filled crying sessions that last even after the movie is over. Every time I hear the opening chords of the title track, I still wipe a tear from the corner of my eye. Rang De Basanti will always be one movie that will have a very special place in my heart, reserved just for it. Finally, I will risk sounding like an ignorant boomer and say, “They don’t make movies like this anymore!” I think I am going to get my box of tissues ready, I know I am going to need them by the time the second half of the movie rolls around and start my Independence Day celebrations a tad bit early.
Disclaimer: The above review solely illustrates the views of the writer.