"Swades" is the story of the young educated Indian.The story of the Indian who has to choose between an affluent life abroad and a purposeful life in their country.The Indian who stands at the crossroads,and faces a choice between "Brain Drain" and National Idealism.It is truly about "We-The people".
From the stable of Ashutosh "Lagaan" Gowariker, this movie has to be a notch higher than "Lagaan" simply because of the injection of realism and total absence of melodrama.A far cry from flashy Bollywood,here's a poignant tale of NASA Project Manager Mohan Bhargava (Shahrukh Khan), who returns to his homeland in search of his childhood nanny.This takes him to a small village near Delhi where,apart from finding his nanny, he also comes face-to-face with the harsh reality of rural India.He also discovers love in the form of Gita (Gayatri Joshi), the quintessential modern Indian woman-cultured and traditional;yet educated and empowered.From here its a story of choice and self-discovery;a quest to find home and the realization that home is where the heart finds love and the soul finds peace.
The movie in itself mirrors the present national and societal issues such as poverty,customs,superstitions and under-development as well as draws out attention towards the beauty of simplicity and the sense of fulfillment one experiences living close to one's roots.There are scenes and images which haunt you-whether its the boy selling water at 25 paise a glass or the peasant stuck in the caste system barely managing to feed his family-these are moments which jab at your conscience hard.There is an evanescent scene towards the end where an old woman watches a bulb being lit by electricity for the first time-and it is in this timeless culmination of emotions that you realize why "Swades" is a cinematic treasure.
Technically the movie is excellent.The entire setup is aimed at deglamorization and successfully manages to do so with some brilliant cinematography.The movie is incomplete without some magical music and lyrics by the AR Rahman-Javed Akhtar duo."Ye jo Des Hai Tera" is bound to give you goosebumps;never has a song so perfectly embodied the spirit of a movie.Ashutosh Gowariker's direction is the most refreshing part as he clearly removes focus from Shahrukh Khan and firmly places it on his environment.This decentralization gives us Shahrukh-The Actor.Restrained,multi-layered and under-expression of his inner turmoil-this is Shahrukh's crème de la crème.Also,the educated Indian woman;the aspiring cook;the jovial postmaster;the muddled Panchayat and the loving nanny are all elements integral to the feel of "Swades".
There is no teaching in "Swades".Only realization.It never asks us to choose.It only tells us what we shall miss.It does not ask us to stay.It only serves to remind us of what we leave behind.To conclude,"Swades" is about transformation.The NRI becomes Indian when the "Bisleri" is abandoned for water in an earthen bowl.The youth becomes a leader when he voices his opinion about how culture and heritage cannot forever be used as veils to hide the malignant problems plaguing us.The scientist becomes a visionary when he uses his expertise to engineer a hydro-electric plant for an under-developed village.
A man becomes a son when he listens to his heart.
And "Swades" becomes a life-changing gem as the credits roll.