19 September 2007 | colour-me-kubrick
About human nature more than anything
I saw this film about 10 years back and have seen it thrice since then.Last time I saw it was on the "independence day" but this time after reading the novel "ice candy man".It made me appreciate the movie more and understand how beautifully Deepa Mehta adapted this partition story to a character study.After fire which was a brilliant film,ahead of its times in the Indian context this was her most accomplished work.Deepa Mehta keeps her objectivity without indulging or being judge-mental of the dark side of human nature as it emerges in the face of adversity.
For me this movie is not about partition,but about human nature.The veil that separates us from animals becomes an anomaly in certain situation.So it is not so much the partition that drew the worst out of the characters but the demons such as lust,violence,jealousy,anger,resentment that already exist at the very core of human nature.It may or may not manifest itself in its most carnal form.But in this case it does.
The innovation of songs as a part of narration was a masterstroke and when you have A R Rehamn at the fore,there will be magic."Raat Ki Dal Dal" is probably one of the most wonderfully pictured songs I have have seen in recent times,as the camera zooms in on Aamir as he is waiting for the train from India,encapsulating his anxiety.The art work is accurate enough,the cinematography is excellent(notice how the camera-work changes from being still and peaceful in first half to more vibrant in the second half).
The performances of the entire cast is brilliant,whether it is the parsi family or Dil Nawaz's friend circle or even Gulshan Grover for that matter.Everyone seems to be on the money.Rahul khanna is a natural talent like his brother(which explains why he is not making it big in this superficial industry),he is rightly understated through the film.His is the only character which doesn't have as many demons and is probably at peace with himself after having the women of his dreams.Nandita Das is a brilliant actress whom I have long admired along with Seema Biswas and Konkana Sen.Her courage and talent shines through as she plays a character who is oozing sexuality,is flirtatious and maybe some what naive.
In case of great actors,I try not to use the "best" and "greatest" to describe their performances,because it in a way diminishes their remaining equally brilliant body of work.But this was a new high for Aamir khan in my book.Before this movie I thought he was one of the most talented,versatile and courageous actors within the industry.This film is where he transcended to greatness and stayed there.To be very honest,most of the ground work was laid in the novel for this role,but one needs great vision to convey this charming character's journey into madness.The use of body language and "silence" is what separates the great actors from others.Al Pacino,George C Scott,De Niro,Sanjeev Kumar understood the value of it and here Aamir showcases his class especially in the climax.
This film is not for the faint hearted.But that is what I have admired Deepa Mehta for.She has always been ruthlessly truthful when it comes to human nature whether it is "earth" or "fire".Unfortunately most of the Indians like the "escapist" mode just to "make them feel good about themselves".If you are one of those this not for you.
P.S.Majority of the reviews here are spot on and people not aware of the horrors of partition were also able to connect on a human level which fulfills the purpose of this film.