Spare us, Basanti!
Maar daal inko, barks our Movie Editor
BY OUR MOVIE EDITOR
January 28, 2006
Weak script, high drama, poor visualisation and
confused patriotism have destroyed Rang De
Basanti, Aamir Khan's latest box-office
In fact, is it an Aamir Khan movie? I am as
confused about it, as the scriptwriter is about
patriotism. Eleven years after Rangeela,
Aamir does not seem to have learnt anything more
about carefree bachelor behaviour than the
ubiquitous tapori - except a Punjabi twang,
this time. The fatal attraction of all things
patriotic has dragged down Aamir from the
excitement of Lagaan, to the mediocrity of
Mangal Pandey and now, to the abysmal
Even before release, Basanti earned its
fair share of publicity thanks to the Central
Board of Film Certification, which referred it to
the defence ministry for clearance. We do not know
if the brass tacks chopped off three scences as
DNA reported, but now we know is that there
were several scenes which could have been.
The movie revolves around the tragic death of a
fighter pilot in the Indian Air Force, who dies in
a MiG crash. A corrupt defence minister, a rich
industrialist and the insensitive State trash it
as a pilot error, since they want to cover up
shady defence deals. But the victim's loser
friends rise in imagined patriotism, as they
imbibe the roles they enact in a movie on the
Freedom Struggle, and raise the banner of revolt.
What was a tolerable movie till intermission takes
a violent turn - misguided kids shoot the defence
minister, son kills father, they take over All
India Radio, and announce their heroism to the
rest of the world on prime time. All the hyperkids
are understandably shot down in the following
gunbattle, and soon reappear as smiling angels
hovering over a Punjabi farm. Aaargh!
I think the movie has done a disservice to the
cause of patriotism and nationalism by advocating
murder and mayhem as a means to a better end. I
wonder if a man called MK Gandhi would agree. I
wonder if anyone would agree.
The movie's pathetic storyline is redeemed to some
extent by great performance from Atul Kulkarni and
Kunal Kapoor. Aamir Khan stays just below the
average mark. Soha Ali Khan's character has about
as much believability as the movie itself. A good
actor, Madhavan's role as the MiG pilot is poorly
developed and his acting skills not put to use.
And do MiG pilots walk around with their Rayban
Aviator shades in countrysides? I did not know
As a colleague remarked, the movie's male bonding
went overboard. If the idea was to let their
undying friendship sink into viewers' minds, a
good script should have done the job. Since
Basanti did not have it, Rakeysh Mehra took
the easy way out with some jumping jacks hugging,
dancing, leaping at planes and boozing together.
Basanti's recurring juxtaposition of the losers'
lives with that of the freedom fighters starts
irritating after the first few times. It becomes
laughable when the urban yuppies start parroting
the lingo they picked up during their Freedom
Struggle movie. (Maar daal usko, parrots
Soha Ali Khan from her movie script) It becomes
intolerable when the Defence Minister appears as
General Dyer at Jalianwallah Bagh and Aamir Khan
grows a Bhagat Singh within.
The movie underlined my belief that good acting
can salvage a bad script to a great extent, though
not fully. The real star of Rang De Basanti
is not Aamir or Soha, but Atul Kulkarni. Beginner
Kunal Kapoor too puts in a smart performance.
Madhavan enacts his role believably, despite the
shades. All of them are heavily let down by the
weak script and unbelievable story line.
In fact, the story is fine till the MiG crash,
since MiG crashes are not the stuff of Mehra's
imagination - they actually happened. After the
MiG crash, the fim-maker's imagination runs riot
and we find ourselves in the middle of blood, gore
and misunderstood patriotism.
Maar daal inko, I say!
BY OUR MOVIE EDITOR