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My Weekly Thoughts on Cinema

Shanku Sharma

Episode 6 : Aamir Khan rocks as ‘DJ’ in Rang De Basanti

03 April 2022

 

Shanku Sharma is a journalist by profession and Cine-Buff by passion. His weekly diary on cinema will higlight his thoughts on India & World Cinema. In 6th Episode of this series, he has shared his thoughts on Aamir Khan rocks as ‘DJ’ in Rang De Basanti... 

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 Episode 6 - Aamir Khan rocks as ‘DJ’ in Rang De Basanti 
 

Aamir Khan is a big star, a huge one indeed. Though usually, the superstar image of an actor hides his or her talent and acting skills, the case is not the same as Aamir Khan. He may be a colossal star, but equally a supremely talented actor. His looks, acting skills, innocence and dimpled face make him an all-rounder. It is hard to write down one’s thoughts on Aamir Khan. It is more difficult to select only a single character played by him that mesmerised the audience. To date, he has seldom let the film industry down. Aamir is a perfectionist and there is no denying the fact that he can take the Hindi film industry to the world stage (he already took Indian cinema to the world stage with Lagaan).

However, if I am to write on one character that he played and made me go gaga over him, it would be ‘DJ’, a role which he played in Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s Rang De Basanti (2006), a brilliant revolutionary drama based on the lives of freedom fighters (Indian independence).

Daljeet Singh, aka DJ, is a spoilt-brat who loves to hang out with friends, loves to waste time and loves to flirt. Playing a character much younger than him (Aamir Khan was 41 in 2006) is a daunting task. But being a perfectionist, he pulled it with élan. He looks in his teens, wears casuals and carries the body language of a restless youngster. DJ cuts jokes with all. He also helps all and, above all, proves to be a great friend.

Rang De Basanti centres around a group of purposeless youngsters who find meaning in their lives after the death of their friend (MiG-21 jet malfunctions and crashes). Their lives change with the coming of Sue McKinley (played by Alice Patten), a British documentary filmmaker who comes to India for filming a documentary of India’s freedom fighters (Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev in particular). The filming of the documentary makes them realise that life is not all about merry-making.

In addition to the documentary, the death of their brave friend (Flight Lieutenant Ajay Singh Rathod) brings a drastic change in DJ’s life. He, also a tough guy, breaks down before Sue. Here we meet Aamir Khan the actor (he breaks down on her lap). His frail side comes to the fore. DJ is restless and does not believe in being serious. A man enjoying life to the fullest finds all the hardships of life in go. Here, Aamir Khan elevates and begins to inspire. RBD was a treat then. It is a treat even now.

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 Episode 5 -Konkona Sen Sharma wins hearts as ‘Aisha’ in ‘Wake Up Sid’

 

I loved (still continue to love) filmmaker Ayan Mukherji’s debut film Wake Up Sid (2008). This Ranbir Kapoor-Konkona Sen Sharma starrer coming-of-age film came at a time in my life when I was not exactly into the world of writing and journalism. In fact, I was not sure of my career and profession.


Konkana Sen Sharma as Aisha Banerjee shifts to Mumbai from Kolkata to become a writer. Careers except in medical and engineering lines are usually frowned upon. But in Wake Up Sid, we meet Siddharth Mehra (Ranbir Kapoor) and Aisha Banerjee, who believe not in accepting any and every clichéd profession (including father’s establishments, office and business).

 
I found (still find) Aisha’s move to select writing as a full-time profession revolting. The thought to bring such changes in one’s life is itself revolutionary and revolting. Aisha silently fights her fears and moves to Mumbai (she is scared of insects) in search of her dream job.


Sidd, on the other hand, is a spoilt-brat who wastes his father’s (Anupam Kher) money, his own time, and ends up on the losing side. But the coming of Aisha in his purposeless and wasteful life makes him realise life is not only a bed of roses.


Slowly but surely, Aisha brings a sea change in Sidd’s life and inspires him to follow his passion (photography). Her strong will and determination shake him to the core. In fact, he too decides to apply (as an intern) for the same magazine for which Aisha works.


In one scene, an excited Aisha explains how it feels when one works, lives and spends life independently. Though Sidd does not pay heed to her works, later he realises the value of freedom. The character of Aisha does not have to shout, instead, she makes a statement – life should have a purpose. The aimlessness in today’s youth has been well-addressed in this movie.


In my opinion, Aisha is one such female protagonist who deserves a special mention. She not only achieves her goals but also helps to transform Sidd into a responsible person. This sense of being responsible left a long-lasting mark on me.


I believe in silent revolutions. Silence is, after all, more powerful than words. Aisha's way of life makes Sidd realise that he is wasting his precious life. He leaves his house and starts staying with Aisha. Post this period, he begins to realise his folly.


Aisha’s presence is felt in Sidd’s each and every moment.

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 Episode 4 - Larger-than-life movies : DEEWAR (1975) 

Many opine Deewaar (1975) was movie mogul Yash Chopra’s best work. The pathos underlying the movie moved me a lot. To date, I watch it repeatedly. Deewaar had Amitabh Bachchan as Vijay and Shashi Kapoor as Ravi. Nirupa Roy as the ever-suffering Sumitra Devi (mother of Vijay and Ravi) also deserves special mention. Writer duo Salim-Javed (Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar) was at their peak when Deewaar came out.                                                                                                                                


Amitabh Bachchan (Vijay) – Aaj mere paas building hai, property hai, bank balance hai, bangla hai, gaadi hai…kya hai tumhaare paas?

                                                                                         

Shashi Kapoor (Ravi) - Mere paas maa hai!                                                                                                           

Certainly, Bollywood at its best!
                                                                 

Two brothers find themselves on the opposing sides of the law – good and evil. A 'deewaar’ (wall) springs up between the two brothers. Their mother gets torn between them. While Vijay wants all the happiness for his family (mother and brother), Ravi wants to be on the right side/right track. Deewaar was both critically and commercially successful. Its screenplay, story, music and performances were praised. The film is often considered a ground-breaking cinematic masterpiece. The film's anti-establishment themes and Amitabh Bachchan's criminal anti-hero vigilante character resonated with audiences. He arrived on the screen as the ‘angry young man’.

 

The soundtrack of the movie was composed by R. D. Burman and the lyrics were penned by Sahir Ludhianvi. The soundtrack received praise. 

 

‘Kehdoon tumhe, ya chup rahun’. What a lovely song.

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 Episode 3 - Larger-than-life movies : DON (1978) 

Don (1978), a brilliant action thriller film, directed by Chandra Barot, had all the elements to be a larger-than-life movie. Yes, the very presence of Amitabh Bachchan used to make the films of that era appear gigantic. In addition to the senior Bachchan, Don featured Zeenat Aman and Pran.

This Salim-Javed classic (the film was written by this deadly duo) had Bachchan playing the titular dual role, as Bombay underworld criminal Don and his lookalike Vijay. Don tells about the rise of criminal activities in the then times. The story is very interesting. Vijay, a Bombay slum-dweller who resembles the powerful criminal Don, is asked by police superintendent D’Silva (Iftekhar) to masquerade as Don due to the latter's death, in order to act as an informant for the police and track down the root of the criminal organisation.

However, things do not go as wanted when D’Silva, who only knows the secret, dies without informing his department that Vijay is not Don. Now, Vijay has to prove that he is not Don.

Kalyani-Anandji’s music, Khaike paan banaraswala, Yeh mera dil, Are Deewano…unforgettable numbers.

Chandra Barot’s Don spawned the Don franchise. Javed Akhtar's illustrious son Farhan Akhtar created a remake Don: The Chase Begins Again (2006) and its sequel Don 2 (2011), both starring Shah Rukh Khan. The Tamil film Billa (1980) was also inspired by Don. It may be mentioned that Don is one of the films that catapulted Amitabh Bachchan to superstardom in his career.

Bachchan’s entry, fight scenes, dance moves, above all, baritone voice, makes Don a must-watch movie for all. This generation of filmmakers has the capacity to make great action-thrillers with twists and turns. But Don remains one of the most entertaining movies ever made in the action-thriller genre. The film ends on a cheerful note.

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 Episode 2 - Bangali Bou, Obangali Bor, a delightful take on married life 

I often find that couples who differ from each other in one way or the other are cute and endearing. For instance, what happens when a Bengali girl falls in love with a non-Bengali boy, and they end up marrying each other? Rather, what could be the outcome of such a marriage? SVF Stories’ ‘Bangali Bou, Obangali Bor’ is a romantic, comic and lightweight take on Rimi (also called Shreya, Bulti, Mamon by her relatives and her husband Aditya (Adi). Kiran Mazumder plays Shreya (Bangali bou) and Rahemin Rahim plays Aditya (Obangali bor). They address each other as ‘tui’ (You in Bengali) and ‘tu’ (You in Hindi). Shreya speaks in Bengali and Aditya in Hindi.

They converse with each other in their own respective languages. Shreya and Adi have no qualms about accepting each other's differences. In fact, they enjoy and respect these differences. SFV Stories’ Bangali Bou, Obangali Bor is cuteness personified. Shreya tries hard to keep Adi away from all troubles.

In one episode (‘Karva Chauth’), she cutely addresses him as her ‘bachcha bor’ (childlike husband). She keeps fast for him as part of Karva Chauth rituals. However, he unknowingly urges her to eat and drink something, which she refuses. Both Adi and Shreya are ordinary. It is their love that makes them extraordinary.

Later, we (and Shreya as well) come to know that he too has fasted for her (the episode ends with Shreya saying ‘ole baba le’). Accepting and forgiving minor mistakes is a key to a successful marriage. Shreya never mocks Aditya. Instead, she tries hard to teach him a thing or two about Bengali culture and tradition. She, too, follows his culture and tradition.

The latest offering, ‘Ghorete Bhromor Elo’, shows how Shreya and Adi’s lives change (for a day) when their neighbour leaves (for an emergency case) their baby with Shreya and Adi. An irritated Adi learns the art in the end.

‘Prothom Dekha’ shows how they met first. A gorgeous and beautiful Shreya meets a good-looking Aditya (on a café date). The differences (in taste) come forth from their first meeting itself. She orders spicy food, which Aditya cannot even digest.

In another episode (‘Lokkhi Pujo’), Shreya does all the preparations for worshipping Goddess Lokkhi. An innocent Adi tries hard to learn a thing or two about the rituals. In fact, he questions a lot, which annoys Shreya. Instead of making the episode grave and serious, we see Shreya forgives Adi in the end and feeds him laddoos (coconut and jaggery). Shreya looks drop-dead gorgeous in one scene. This definitely floors Adi. The ‘Rakhi Purnima’ and ‘Happy Independence Day’ episodes are unique in their own ways. The episode ‘Kolkata Shawphor’ is a tribute to the city of Kolkata. Adi takes Shreya out to see Kolkata.

The success of Bangali Bou, Obangali Bor, speaks volumes. Fresh content, catchy lines and good stories made a deadly combination. Shreya and Adi enjoy their married life. But, they embrace each other’s differences (be it opinions or culture). Shreya’s mother, as seen in one episode, is impressed with Adi. Instead of preaching, SVF Stories’ ‘Bangali Bou, Obangali Bor’ teaches us how to enjoy and embrace differences. It shines a light on the art of living a sweet and cute married life. Shreya and Adi are indeed extraordinary. The imitative of SVF Stories to provide a platform for fresh ideas, comprising both fiction and non-fiction videos, is indeed praise-worthy.

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 Episode 1 - Ode to Mani Ratnam’s Mouna Ragam 

One of the most remarkable things in Mani Ratnam’s Mouna Ragam (1986), which begins with a fun-loving and free-spirited girl, Divya (Revathi), meeting her would-be suitor Chandrakumar (Mohan), is how Divya plainly confesses about her past love life to her husband Chandrakumar. Though she marries Chandrakumar, much to her disappointment, tries in vain to find peace of mind.


Coming back to the Chandrakumar-Revathi meeting scene, there is silence all around. But when their eyes meet, the damp and dingy atmosphere changes into a crackling one. No words, only the meeting of a pair of eyes. That is filmmaker Mani Ratnam at his best. And this is one of his critically acclaimed movies, Mouna Ragam. Mouna Ragam refers to ‘silent symphony’ and Ratnam does justice to the film by depicting emotions, pleasures, pain and sorrow through silence.


Divya accepts her fate, again silently, and marries Chandrakumar. Most of Mani Ratnam’s works portray the pathos of married women on screen. Divya in Mouna Ragam moves all around the house lonely, trying to bring balance to her life. When she confesses about her past love (Manohar played by Karthik) to Chandrakumar, he understands the situation, accepts Divya’s and moves on.


Another remarkable feature of Mouna Ragam is that a determined Divya, instead of bowing down and accepting her fate, tries freeing herself from the bondage of conjugal life.


But she fails as Chandrakumar accepts her, despite knowing everything. The credit lies with Ratnam here since he tries to bring new things into a typical Indian marriage (bride confession about her past love and groom accepting it with no qualms). The year was 1986, not 2021.


Divya’s helplessness is brilliantly brought to the fore by Revathi. The couple is asked to live together for a year before the divorce. These are tough times for the couple. The scenes in which Chandrakumar tries to distance himself from his wife are teary.


The underlying pathos of these scenes is brought to the fore by the brilliant camerawork of the legendary PC Sreeram. Storytelling is Ratnam’s forte, and he undoubtedly excels in bringing forth the couple’s dilemma to the screen. It is no wonder that still there are heroines who would die to step into Revathi’s shoes for Mani Ratnam’s Mouna Ragam.

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