Title: Swades (2004)
Meaning of title: We, the people
Runtime: 3 Hours, 7 Minutes, and 20 Seconds
Writing/Directing Credits (www.imdb.com)
Director, and Writer: Ashutosh Gowariker (also director of Lagaan)
Story: M.G. Sathya
Dialogue: K.P. Saxena
Music: A. R. Rahman
Shahrukh Khan - Mohan Bhargava
Gayatri Joshi - Gita
Vishwa S. Badola
Kishori Balal - Kaveri amma
Makrand Deshpande - Fakir
Farrukh Jaffar - Fatimabi
Daya Shankar Pandey - Mela Ram
Rich Petrelli - Command and Control Center Operator
Peter Rawley - John Stockton
Smit Sheth - Chikku
Rajesh Vivek - Nivaran
What Kind of Movie is this?
This movie is an art film of sorts. By that I mean it is a type of movie which is very different from the usual masala mix type movies the Indian crowd is used to watching. It is a commentary on current day India, but it is told beautifully and very dramatically through various different perspectives.
What happens in this movie?
Swades is a movie about current day India. Mohan Bhargava is a scientist who works at NASA on a new satellite called the Global Percipitation Measurement satellite. However, as he works on this and learns that he has been accepted to become a US citizen, he becomes more and more conscious of his childhood nanny who had cared for him ever since his parents passed away. So, taking the very vague leads he has about the whereabouts of his nanny, he heads to India taking a break from his project as NASA. He eventually tracks her Kaveri amma down (his nanny), and finds that Gita, a childhood friend of his has looked after her. He wants to bring his nanny back to the States to live in comfort there, but finds it difficult to do so with so many problems already in the village of Charanpur. A village where decisions are still made by a village head, and recieving a 4th grade education is considered sufficient for anyone. Gita, who also runs the village school pushes for change and tries to get more children enrolled in her school while also trying to start a high school in the village. Mohan and Gita have conflicts about many issues - everything from the current state of India's government to keeping Kaveri amma. Mohan wants to take her to the states, white Gita wants to keep her in India, since she has been a mother figure to her as well. Kaveri amma finds out and makes her decision. She sends Mohan across the state to collect rent from a poor farmer. It's on his journey that Mohan really learns about the problems of India at their grassroot levels. He goes back to the village without any money from the farmer, but decides to make a difference in Charanpur. He works hard to setup a small hydro plant so that the villagers can get electricity. After finishing that, he finds that he has to go back the states to his work. His nanny finally reveals that she cannot go with him. That makes parting from India even more difficult for Mohan, who has also fallen in love with Gita and the village. He returns back to States, but cannot keep his mind on his work. Finally, he returns back to India where he works hard to bring about reform and change.
What I liked about this movie
To make it simple: everything. A.R. Rahman's music was the best I've heard so far in an Indian film. His song, Ye jo des hai tera, swades hai tera takes the cake by summing up all the sentiments of the movie. It has great evocative imagery and the pacing was just right. The story was stunning, and it really makes you think what makes India the country it is today. The acting is top notch. Newcomer Gayatri Joshi playing the role of Gita really gives a heartfelt performance. Shahrukh Khan is amazing as usual. I would say it shows his best acting talent. The story has heart, and it has soul. It doesn't degrade into girls wearing skimpy clothes to make it a crowd pleaser. It does exactly what it sets out to do - show us a darn good story, and really makes you think.
What I didn't like about this movie
Nothing...But to more exact, I didn't like how it developed a few ideas and then just dropped them. I would have loved if some of the other issues the movie was targetting would have been addressed further and developed more. That is my only complain.
This movie won't appeal much to westerners. It will appeal most to the people of India (going back to its title - We, the people), weather they are living in India or outside India. It is absolutely essential for every Indian to see this film, because its just that important. It addresses issues that most of us would not have thought off and considered to be significant. It really made me think about the development of India. Although it has developed tremendously in urban areas, the rural areas where the majority of the population lives at is not looked after. Definately see this film. I give it 5/5.