Thursday, March 23, 2006

Mera Rang de Basanti…

During one of our many conversations, the Communal Cow made a very valid point. He is of the firm belief that all is lost on a generation that needs a popcorn entertainer to tell them about their heroes, their history and those who came before us. To paraphrase him, a generation that needs aids such as this to rekindle their pride is doomed and is useless. Which is why he has come up with his own version of Rang De Basanti’s byline, “A generation weakens” he says. I think I quite agree. But that’s not to take away anything from the movie and Mehra’s efforts. We do what we feel should be done. But at least the Communal Cow got the point that the movie was trying to make. Which brings us to the point of this post. And it’s not a review (there’s enough of them already), but merely an attempt to clarify certain aspects of the movie, considering how many people have fallen for the red herrings, so to speak. So let us try and clear the fog about this masaledaar hindi movie that has all of us talking.

Is RDB about crashing MIGs? Is it about our brave pilots who lay down their lives while piloting those flying coffins? Yes, some would say. “Did you not see the last slide that came on before the credits started rolling? It said that the movie is in honour of our brave pilots.” They will tell you. And it’s at this point that we need to understand that at the end of the day, RDB is a film, a movie. And all good movies have something that is known as a ‘plot device’ which is simply put, a thing/concept/person brought into the narrative to influence/ advance the plot of the movie. Now this MIG plot device (in the context of the movie) could have been anything else. It could have been a train accident, an innocent victim caught in a smuggling racket, a viruddh-type justice denied angle or even a clichéd gangster thingy. That’s the point. These are all clichés. And would these alternatives have grabbed your attention as much as the MIG angle did? Think not. Any film maker, even if it is Vikram Bhatt, will try to bring something new and unique into his movie, and with RDB the case would have been more so, and Mehra could not have chosen a better plot device. Also, by choosing this particular one, he has also managed to bring attention to the state of our air force’s planes and our pilots. But this specific thing is just peripheral to the point that RDB is trying to make. And yes, the last slide is just an afterthought (I think). Remember the rouble that RBD got into with the defence ministry? Most likely, it was just inserted there to calm the nerves of those in the ministry who (like the people who inspired this post) thought that Mehra is making fun of the Indian armed forces.

So getting back to our point, what this MIG plot device also helps do is take the story forward by linking the MIGs with the Defence Minister who is (quite intelligently) equated with Gen. Dyer. Now, here again many people think that this comparison calls for a total suspension of belief and is totally far fetched. Two things. Firstly, it’s not as farfetched as you would think. Instead of our enemies from outside, our enemies today are our own people. Think about it. And secondly, don’t forget that RDB is a masala movie, not a historical documentary. But it achieves more than a hundred other masala movies could.

Another objection that some people have raised is that through RDB, Mehra is telling us all to take up arms and go around killing politicians/other assorted termites in the system. No he’s not. But it wouldn’t be such a bad thing now, would it? Anyway, if you see the movie, and listen carefully, the answer is right there. Join the IAS. Get into politics. Join the police force. Change the system. Ho many people will you kill? Kill the fault in the system, not the propagators. Again here, it should be pointed out, the assassination of the minister is just another plot device, albeit a truly farfetched one practically. But like Bhagat Singh himself said, “Jo ooncha sunte hain, unko sirf dhamake ki awaaz sunayideti hai…” Close enough, I guess. And this is exactly what RDB tries to do. Be an explosion that opens the eyes of at least some people. But at the end of the day, let us not forget, it’s just another bollywood movie starring Aamir Khan, with music by A.R.Rahman, and that the MIGs and the ministers are just plot devices.


Anonymous said...

Well Said my friend. Just a point to add, Is patritoism or desh bhakti all about making a statement. We tend to get jingoistic with a event,a game, a well made Hit Movie, a hit song. Remember the Vande Mataram Craze(Courtesy again our Great AR). I watched this movie twice and saw applaud and tears from the audience. But hey back on the road, we do all the wrong things again. Sure, I may sound like the Karan Singhania character, pessismistic to the core.

I guess we are like cattle, we like to be led. Anyone from the Gandhi ( The better One), Nehru, Gandhis (The Worse Ones), Vajpayees have been moving us in one thing to the other. Oops, I missed the great british. But I am sure we are going to come out of this vigorous cycle. A nation with people with a identity and mind of its own. A saviour or destroyer, not sure which one. Maybe The tenth One.

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