Sunday, February 19, 2006

Bhagat Singh and the Roo Baa Rooo Conundrum

I got a very interesting comment from a friend to my review of "Rang De Basanti". I thought the comment needed to be answered fully and thought I should make it a part of the main-section of the blog. So, if you want the full story, please refer to my review of RDB. I have quoted tafosi's comment in part and have added my response to it.

tafosi said:

" You are right in a way because whatever you've said makes absolute sense due to your interpretation. Going by that, you will find no complaints. However, while seeing the movie, after seeing the movie and after reading everything that people have to say about the movie, my opinion on one thing has not changed. For me it is not a political movie. There was no political significance and I would love to ask the director if that was his intention. For me, the film was a character study of passionate, but flawed young men of India. They are the breed who live their life on the extreme, all about being impulsive and let the consequences be damned. In fact, the freedom fighters whom they portray, were themselves flawed. Once again, passionate yet impulsive. Yes the political message does appear to be resounding, but quite honestly it was never about that with me and once I was prepared to overlook that fact, I really liked the movie."

My Response:

I don't know, Ritesh. I won't characterize these characters as passionate and impulsive. These guys are narcissistic, self-involved and their cluelessness can only be topped off by their self-love. I don't think any other thought (apart from themselves) enters their mind- of course before they loose one of their own. I don't sympathize with these guys.

And to compare them to Bhagat Singh is an outrage. Bhagat Singh was a great intellectual and a revolutionary. The methods he used might be debated, but his love towards his fellow men is unquestionable. He was 24 when he was hanged. But if you read anything that he has written, you will appreciate and understand what a complex person he was. I recently found a good site that has accumulated all his correspondences and speeches:
His now classic booklet "Why I am an atheist" is a soul-searching and bold treatise. If you give one of these documents to the characters in RDB, they wouldn't be able to make head or tail out of it, unless we are able to introduce an item number with Malaika Arora in pitching these ideas to them.

He (Bhagat Singh) and his copatriots were not impulsive- they were deliberate and calculative. When they planted the bomb in the assembly, they went out of their way to make sure that nobody is hurt in the blast and this act was aimed at solely to get their voice heard.

The movie begs to be taken as a political movie. Here are some references the movie throws our way: (i) the saffron-cald activists seen all through the movie, they could have chosen any colour, but the political ambitions of the movie had to prevail. (ii) in the first scence, when Bhagat Singh is lead to his hanging, we see him reading a book by Lenin. So, taking it as a political film, the film fails miserably. If you don't take it as a political film, then, it is even more outrageous - in this case, they are willing to use any historical figure to spice up the proceedings and introduce some fake patriotism.


Sandeep M said...

I completely agree with your views in the review. I was shocked to find how favorably the movie was talked abt amongst my friends and peers! I was thoroughly disappointed with the movie. The act of thrusting the roles of such heroic freedom fighters down the throats of such vaninglorious n misled youth was very phony. What justification is there in comparing a bunch of completely wasteful, directionless brats to such phenomenal heroes who shook the mighty British rule to its decay?

If the sudden loss of one their compatriots shook them out of their fantaclysmic stupor, then unfotunately their awakening was not very cerebral either. Murder and seige in current day Indian environs cannot be equated to revolution and social change! I would rather dismiss it as acts of pheromonical bravado and blind rage!

To further this lack of sense by interspersing it with sepia-tinged scenes of Bhagat Singh and their freedom-struggle is rather perplexing and misleading. One should instead fear a public backlash where overenthusiastic youth resort to similar vagaries in the name of patriotism!

However well shot n edited the movie might be, it still does not take away from the emptiness of the soul!

nmagesh said...

Hey Sandeep,

It is nice to hear from you and I am glad to know that you liked the review. I just wrote this review, because I had to say it- expecting it (the post) to die a silent death. To see it flare a debate, both for and against, is very rewarding.


Tafosi said...

Well I guess to each his own. I have absolutely no intention of belitting the freedom fighters of the past. As long as that is clear, we can go ahead with the debate, which is and should be about the movie, politics aside. On re-reading my own opinion, I find that I have not elaborated it in the correct manner. Are these people narcissistic and full of themselves: absolutely. Are they passionate : Yes. Perhaps not about their country, but don't say that they are not passionate. Being passionate is a state of mind. Now as far as comparison goes, I am not as well read as you are and so should not comment on things which I don't know. Being impulsive is not always a bad thing. Sometimes the very fact that people do not think things through works in their favor. So if death of their own brings them out of a stupor, so be it.
I am of the firm opinion that terrorism at all levels is wrong - even if it leads to death of one person. So no one can ever convince me that an eye-for-eye makes for someone's 'voice being heard'. I am grateful for the freedom which we enjoy and we should be respectful for what others have done but if we glorify certain events from the past then what have we learnt from our history? Yes, something had to be done back then and if you say that they went out of their way to ensure that no one was hurt, then they have to be commended even more. However, if it did indeed lead to casulty (innocent or otherwise), then it is sad.

Well, outrageous or otherwise, each time I see the movie, I will leave the politics aside. Whether one likes the film or not, people are certainly talking about it. As a film-maker, that is what you aim for and on that level, the director has suceeded.

nmagesh said...


I see your point. Seeing it as a non-political movie: Narratively, I thought the movie was quite shaky. It picked up the pace and coherence in the last half hour. And as usual, there was a solid performance from Amir Khan. And lets face it: nobody can play an ideological fanatic better than Atul Kulkarni - his every nerve ending seemingly pulsates with ideology. Only wish these talents were used for a better movie.

journeyman said...

the movie was an upbeat one to satiate the mock patriotism that fuels the country. It was a tale half spun, which entangled itself into a doom of misogynicims.

hari said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
hari said...

There are no heroes, guys... We are what our experience and the dreams for our own future mold us! We never realize that all people have feet of clay and the biggest Idol of them all falls down with the most resounding crash... Man cannot be truly moved by whats happening to millions of people halfway across the world... he can only be affected by what happens to him or those he calls his own....... What is today Murder and terrorism is tomorrow's Martyrism and Justified Aggression... what I mean to say is that, your purposes are unimportant.. they can be glorified or vilified, depending upon your judge... What is important is how far are you willing to go for it or how much are you willing to sacrifice for it... Its just a movie guys, Relax. I believe that the usage of the juxtaposition device was exceptional... the music too is undenaiably good... Lets also remember that the 'Great' Sepoy Mutiny started because An orthodox 'Hindoo' thought that the British used Pig fat as grease :)... It is always the small spark that builds up in to a conflagaration.. I did not see Misogynism anywhere in the movie.. I will look harder next time :) ...... I believe that its a much, much better movie than Lagaan or Swadesh and is one of the finest movies to come out of 'Bollywood' in the recent years. I admit its not one of the best movies ever.... But then I guess each man to his own opinion

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