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Rang De Basanti - A Critically Acclaimed Movie with a Feel-Good Factor

Rakesh Omprakash Mehra burst into the Bollywood film-making scene with one movie that made him one of the most critically-acclaimed directors of our time. Released in 2006, the movie depicts the carefree life of a group of college students whose lives are changed forever by the death of a friend. The movie received critical-acclaim and was branded as a patriotic film. Any normal movie lover would be wary of patriotic films as they either distort history or make them too sentimental for young people to enjoy. But unlike a number of patriotic films, ‘Rang De Basanti’ has a message that resonates over time. It is a movie that inspires love for our country without distorting the history of our country.

Touches a chord in our hearts

The literal meaning of the film’s title is ‘Paint me with colors of spring’. The film opens with the historic moment when the legendary freedom fighter and modern day youth icon, Bhagat Singh is about to be hanged to his death. The jailer, McKinley (Steve McIntosh)watches as they die with smiles on their faces and comes to realize that he cannot break them. In the present day, McKinley’s granddaughter, Sue McKinley (Alice Patten) reads her grandfather’s diary and decides to make a documentary film on the famous Indian freedom fighters, Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekar Azad, Shivram Rajguru, Ashfaqulla Khan and Ram Prasad Bismil. She gets in touch with a girl from India, Sonia (Soha Ali Khan) to get the film going. Sue meets Sonia’s friends, DJ, (Aamir Khan) Karan, (Siddharth) Aslam (Kunal Kapoor) and Sukhi. (Sharman Joshi). They are typical college students who are far more interested in living the good life than acting in a film based on freedom fighters. But they get roped in and the final member of the cast, Laxman Pandey is roped in to portray Bismil. The other four and Sonia are not enthusiastic about Sue’s decision to cast Pandey who is a well-known right wing activist who gets into fights with the four friends on ‘Western ideals’ and looks down upon Aslam due to his religion. The group reluctantly gets along with each other and the movie starts rolling. As they start filming some of the more tougher sequences in the film, the group begins to change their outlook on life and take the documentary seriously.

Sonia’s fiancee, Ajay Rathod (Madhavan) is a flight lieutenant in the Indian Air Force and visits the group often. He is killed in a MiG-21 crash and the incident shakes the group to the core. To make matters worse, the Indian Government brushes aside the crash as negligence. This angers the group and they decide to take action against the indifferent authorities by staging a peaceful protest. Ajay’s mother (Waheeda Rahman) is gravely injured and the angry friends decide to kill the Defence Minister and get proof of his corruption due to his involvement with Karan’s father (Anupam Kher). They kill the minister in a manner similar to a scene from their documentary and the minister is hailed as a martyr slaughtered by terrorists, Having had enough of the fame given to the corrupt minister, they take over the All India Radio office and go on air to tell the people of India what happened. Unfortunately, the police declare them as terrorists and surround the office, firing on the windows. Karan meanwhile is on record, talking to the people of the country who have questions. The two friends sit on the floor of the room, talking to each other about DJ’s love for Sue. They share a light-hearted moment just as police burst into the room and shots are fired. A voice-over by Sue’ grandfather from the beginning of the film where Bhagat Singh is handed is shown which states that he has met three kinds of men, men who die without making a sound, men who cried while dying and then he met the third kind, men who died laughing.

A powerful message

The movie has a stirring soundtrack by AR Rahman and a number of songs were well-received. The movie is not one to be missed, especially for young people who believe that it is the authority figures who must change the country, rather than them being the change that the country needs. The movie is a source of inspiration for young people and is widely regarded as one of the best films on patriotism loved by the youth. It is no wonder that the movie received so much critical-acclaim. It is a film young people must watch at least once in their lifetime.

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