10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
A Call to Rave against the System,
This review is from: Rang De Basanti [DVD] (Blu-ray)This film excited some controversy, as anyone can see plainly after reading the few reviews here. This is because of the astounding, extreme decision that the characters make at the end of the film. According to some viewers, this final decision -based on a cheap and simplistic view on the political and social climate of India, in their opinion- is an incitement to violence .
Although I was also amazed by the final decission the characters make -while, at the same time, admiring the way the writer blends this part of the story with the historic events that had been shown in the film until then- I didn't quite see the call to arms or terrorism here. Actually, this way of interpreting the ending is really simplistic, in my opinion, considering the complexity and several layers on which the plot operates. And, I must confess, the ending was a big-bang surprise to me; and how often do we get an unpredictabe ending in films, be they Bollywood or otherwise? Not as often as we would like to, surely.
If the controversial ending is so extreme and violent, it is as a sharp contrast with the carefree, hedonistic, almost cynical attitude -at the beginning of the film- of Dj (Aamir Khan) and hisfriends, who are the protagonists. While this group of youths belong to the middle classes and do not really have much to worry about as to the basic needs of life, everything they see around them in their country makes them hopeless, directionless, lacking plans and projects for their future. Their only aim in life seems to be having fun, getting drunk, hanging around at college. It is in fact a way of hiding from reality and the life that awaits, of trying to cling to youth.
Everything changes with the arrival of Sue, a British young woman who is trying to shoot a documentary about a bunch of (communist) revolutionaries who, in the time of the Raj, fought against the British. She recruits Dj and his good-for-nothing friends. As much as this crowd detest anything to do with patriotism or revolution, and they laugh at these revolutionaries of the Indian past who chose to die for their ideals, they find themselves dragged into the story....
Thus, both the hedonistic, coudn't-care-less attitude of the beginning and the extreme decission of the ending are typical reactions born of desperation, of being in a no-way-out situation. And this is the message of the film: when the system is so rotten that the new generations are left with no hope for their futures, they are going to react tpically in one of these two ways. It is a courageous mesage, stated in a very clear way. The possible solutions, as well as the cause of the rot in the system are also clearly stated and, although maybe this part of the message is actually simplistic, one can't help but feel respect for people who decide to denounce what they see as bad, warn of possible dangers ahead (e.g.the extremes of passivity or violence that this situation can entail), and suggest a positive, no matter how simplistic, action. In fact, the denounce of some embarrasing problems (particularly the defective parts of planes, cause of may accidental deaths, bought by the Indian Ministry of Defence)and of the BJP (then ruling the country)take on society (clearly trying to incite hatred among the different communities, which, on the other hand, also have their particular hate-mongers) are so contundent as to fall like a hammer blow.
If you are expecting a typical Bollywood from Rang De Basanti, you'll be sorely disapointed. It is true that the story begins more like a comedy to end up a drama...-and how wonderful all the actors are playing these different registers!!!- but the typical romance is really nowhere to be seen (not that it lacks romance, but it's not so heavy-handed as in most Bollywoods, in fact it is so discreet that one almost misses it until the very end), there is no hero/heroine protagonism but a choral focus on character and the musical numbers are not your typical Bollywood either and are not given the ordinary weight...-the music is great, though!!!!
After watching Rang De Basanti, I understand the hype. It's not usual to find such a popular form of art as films so openly calling (young) people to wake up and improve society. Although the message is clearly intended for India, it is of universal consequence. Highly recommended.