Friday, April 29, 2005

Hazaaron Khwahishen Aisi - Two Thumbs Up!!

Finally, watched Sudhir Mishra's Hazaaron Khwahishen Aisi after missing it when it was screened by Collective Chaos!

And a lovely movie, it was!

Its great to see Sudhir Mishra, back in his elements, after a couple of off-shoots, namely, "Chameli" and "Calcutta Mail". This time he gifts himself with a wonderful script co-written by Ruchi Narain (who might direct a film soon executive-produced by Mr. Mishra) & Shivkumar Subramaniam.
Back to HKA. Its about three young people, Siddharth, Geeta and Vikram. Siddharth is born with the silver spoon and wants to change the corrupt system with his revolutionary ideas. Geeta is in love with Siddharth and unsure about what she wants to do, and follows the dynamic Siddharth with his revolutionary ideas. Vikram doesn't care a heck about the system and wants to climb up the economic ladder. But, he is hopelessly in love with Geeta. He argues Siddharth has time for this indulgence; but, not him. In this neat setup, echoing similarities with Yuva (Make no mistake, Hazaaron was completed much before Yuva), the movie explores the ideologies, politics, ambitions of the youth of the bygone era of the 60's and 70's. But the story is not about politics. Its a love story, which twirls alongside the political turmoils of the 1970's, serving as an allegory of role of Indian youth in yesteryears politics and more broadly, India. The actual historic incidents and happennings like the emergency period are kept in the backdrop of the plot. The way humour is strewn over the movie is commendable!

Sudhir Mishra doesn't eulogise the way of the revolution; all we see, initially, is a bunch of dopers and their political friends with communist leanings, discussing Marx, Castro, et al. That we find the path of Vikram most agreeable is inevitable and that has been the director's intention. Sudhir Mishra succeeds by showing things as they happenned. People who chased their revolutionaly ideas were either left disillusioned or lost their ideals and the writers do not mince their words on this aspect. That they chased such a quite impossible dream to change the world is by itself a fascinating subject; and is portrayed profoundly, and nostalgically too, by Mr. Mishra. Its the character of Vikram the audience are most likely to identify with; and the character is so seamlessly written that as the movie proceeds, we see his character develop much more than the cliched-selfish cardboard character we are being served with, in movies generally. In the process, its the other male protagonist, the idealistic Siddharth, who appears a bit too upright for the empathy of this generation, but true to those times nevertheless. Thats why we don't see the human side of him, with all its intrinisic flaws, until the very end, where he is left disillusioned and renounces his revolutionary ideas. There is a sequence, in which Vikram, hopelessly in love with Geeta, follows her to a village in Bihar, just to find that Geeta had come to meet Siddharth, who had joined a naxal group. And then, alongside a river, they talk.. That's a miniature setting of the whole story of the lives of the three. In an effort to pacify an angry Siddharth, Vikram says "Long live Revolution!" (with a bottle of beer in his hand; so is Geeta). There is a short silence and then they have a hearty laugh!

Among the onscreen performances, all the three protagonists Kay Kay Menon, Shiney Ahuja and Chitrangada Singh have given clean performances. The scene stealer, of course, is Shiny Ahuja, who as Vikram Malhotra walks away with the top honours. somehow, I felt he is going to be the most under-appreciated, after finding him and his character excellent in the movie. But, was more than happy to find most of the reviews, the precious little that are written, giving due applause to him! Other notable performances include Yashpal Sharma. Saurabh Shukla makes a special appearance.

My only minor grouse (in want of a softer word) is the full-blown use of English in the dialogues of the movies, unlike his earlier movies like Dharavi, Is Raat Ki Subah Nahin (the comparison being somewhat unfair as the settings are different). Agreed, that they are in Delhi, Siddharth can't talk both Bengali and Urdu - his possible mother tongues, and all that. Still, I feel more of Hindi dialogues between the three characters could have been added to make the characters more real. It seems Geeta had been made a south Indian just to be politically correct to assure that they can't get away with Hindi (similar to Mr. and Mrs. Iyer). It looks out-of-place, when Geeta talks to Siddharth in English, even when in absolute panic, after having spent around four years in Bhojpur. Hell, she even puts a few words of English (in clean British accent) into the policeman's ears knowing he would not get a bit of what she meant, but just to vent out her frustrations. Absolutely detailed characterization of all the revolutionaries, relatives, aunts, et al, with smaller screen presence, do not allow them to speak English and their Hindi/regional language befits their characters to T. Only that, the lead characters could have played it a bit less with the English dialogues. Was Mr. Mishra aiming at a wider audience by making it in English? Nothing wrong in this when all he is popular, in Bollywood, is for his substitute-effort in "Chameli".

The soundtrack, by Shantanu Moitra, featuring in the movie is classy with the qawwali number "Mann Yeh Bavra" sung by Ajay Jhingran and Swanand Kirkire being the best pick; "Bawra Mann Dekhne" (female rendition by Shubha Mudgal and male rendition Swanand Kirkire) also stands out among other tracks.

Easily, the best Indian film I have seen this year!!!
Or, am I forgetting any movie here? nope!


  1. Hi,

    I just came to know about your blog. I enjoyed reading ur detailed review on this movie. Will watch it if possible.


  2. Hi Suresh,
    Thanks a bunch man!
    Do keep watching this space.

  3. If you notice the characters are created in such a way that english would be the only language to converse in.

    They dont have a common tongue and since chitrangada is not supposed to know hindi atleast at the beginning of the movie, english is resorted to.

    But anyway it gives the characters some sort of distance from what is actually happening (we have the eternal feeling that they are mere observers while infact they are changing drastically like how the political scenario is)....

  4. Hi Escape Great Escape a.k.a. Cool_Raman,
    Thats exactly what I meant by telling this in my review-
    It seems Geeta had been made a south Indian just to be politically correct to assure that they can't get away with Hindi (similar to Mr. and Mrs. Iyer)
    By "politically correct", I meant "making the conversations plausible by having suitable regional & social flavours".
    And btw, I used to write as 'fundu' in MS!

  5. Yes I kinda agree..
    but there is a small difference. While Mr and Mrs Iyer needed some kind of tangible philosophical distance between the characters... (in the beginning) to increase the effect of closeness later on in the movie, HKA did not need that initial difference in ideas...

    The director in HKA had the luxury of 6 years to delineate the characters while Aparna Sen had but a few days to show how different the characters were... Basically, if you had put KK's and Chitrangada's characters as Mr and Mrs Iyer... then i dont think we would have had a movie... :).

  6. And BTW i kind of enjoyed your tiff with "aiyengaw"katz at the lazy geek's webpage... and well MS is history now.. :).

  7. Yeah, agreed that, in Mr. and Mrs. Iyer the cultural and social differences had to be highlighted.
    But, not necessarily through different languages. It could have as well been a north Indian young middle-class mother (how about a marathi woman?) and story would have remained in tact.
    But, the tamilian origin definitely added a sweet dimension (being very conservative) to Meenakshi's character. Only that it was used for other reasons as well, like the full movie being made in English. As u said, such differences don't exist in HKA and it still had the full movie in English. I would have definitely loved it more had they spoken some little Hindi too.

  8. well yes there could have been a million ways to show their different lineages.. you know india is the land where there is supposed to be "Unity in Diversity", A nice way of saying that people divide themselves on the basis of caste, colour, language... what they had for breakfast... but yet elect the same fool to head the country...

    But see, this is where Aparna used a cliche to her advantage. She caste Konkona as a south Indian Brahmin girl... and this immedietely says so much about the leves of conservativeness, the narrow mindedness and the natural timidity of the character. Probably atleast in my eyes, the Marathi woman would have the first 2, but is not known for the last characteristic...

    Well I probably dont know enough marathi woman..

  9. Well what can i tell is a little bizarre for me i also think that those times were a little primitive, we can see because of the way some school incorporate corporal punishment.