13 October 2005 | Opiniated
Swades: India Empowered.
Swades is my idea of India Empowered. The movie creates a magic, which makes you believe, so what if only for a swift second, that you can help change the face of India too.
In Swades, you don't see Sharukh Khan as Sharukh Khan, but as Mohan Bhargava, a feat difficult to achieve even by the most seasoned actors. Mohan comes back to take his now old governess Kaveri Amma to the US. Here he meets Gita (Gayatri Joshi) a Delhi-educated school teacher in the tiny village 200kms from Delhi. Not only does Mohan fall in love with the beautiful and graceful Gayatri Joshi, but also begins on his journey of knowing rural India.
Mohan's moment of realization comes, when he sees the poor peasant so stuck in the Indian caste system, that he can barely feed his family. Traditionally a weaver, the advent of the power looms had left this man jobless, forcing him to take up agriculture on leased land. Shunned by the community who believes that a weaver cannot be anything but a weaver, he fails to irrigate his land, as he was provided with no water by the villagers. This leaves him in heavy debts and a state of misery and helplessness. Mohans journey home is the one of realization. The omnipresent NRI-symbol, the Bisleri bottle finally gives way to a glass of water in a earthen vessel for a meagre 25 paise being sold by a young child at the Ajite Railway station.
Swades touches rampant problems of rural India, child marriage, caste-ism, lack of education. It also voices the concern about an increasing number of NRI's taking their old to the US to serve them, cook and clean at home. There is an other point the movie touched, which nobody before has ever dared to - Mohan begs to differ as the elders at a village gathering say that India is the greatest country in the world because we have 'values and ideals'. Mohan urges them to stop hiding behind a farce of big words and to see things the way they are. Mohan uses his skill to build a tiny hydro electric power project which brings light to his village. This is when the movie reaches its peak point. "One man Mohan Bhargava - can make a difference. Can you?" it asks, right in your face. And you wouldn't believe what you find yourself saying - yes I can! This is the magic of the movie I was speaking about.
Mohan goes back to the USA against his own wishes. Memories of India, his village, his love haunt him. Mohans end decision is what I leave for you to watch in the movie....
Sharukh Khan's performance as Mohan Bhargava is very believable. I suspect there's more to his character than merely the work of a skilled actor. His performance has soul in it. Some part of Sharukh Khan is a Mohan Bhargava, some part of him believes in the same idea of India Empowered.
Gayatri Joshi's made a great debut in this movie. She is a beautiful and versatile actress. Finally we got to see a non-buxom Indian actress on screen which comes as a relief. When she ties Mohan's dhoti (traditional male garb) looking into his eyes unhesitatingly, there's a subtle message hidden speaking odes about female empowerment. There is this great chemistry between Sharukh and Gayatri, where she plays the dominant teacher, and he the meek student with a crush on her.
The supporting roles were performed to perfection. And music by A.R. Rehman adds beauty to the movie. A.R. Rahman, I believe is the greatest music composer we have, his music works like magic.