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Geeta Rao has two admirers - one is Siddharth Tyabji and the other is Vikram Malhotra circa 1969 West Bengal that is witnessing it's struggle against the ruling Congress party, joining forces with left-wing Marxist and Communist parties. While Siddharth is directly involved in this struggle, Geeta and Vikram are romantically involved. When Vikram does not make any move toward marriage, despite of being introduced to Geeta's Madras-based family, she decides to give up on him, and he starts his romance with another young woman. While students continue to voice their disapproval of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the Allahabad High Court gives a judgment indicting her for several offenses under the Representation of People Act. Mrs. Gandhi then uses her powers to clamp Emergency, taking away all powers of the judiciary, giving police virtually unlimited powers to the Police to detain anyone under the National Security Act, imprisoning leaders of all political parties, empowering her son, ...Written by
Hazaaron Khwaishen Aisi Dir- Sudhir Mishra Cast- KayKay Menon, Chitrangada Singh, Roshan 'Shiny' Ahuja, Ram Kapoor and Yashpal Sharma. Written by- Sudhir Mishra, Ruchi Narain and Shiv Subramanium. Rating- ***
At the heart of Sudhir Mishra's political chronicle about three individuals during the India of the 70's lies an inherent cry for reform that is valid even in the current age that we live in. 'Hazaaron Khwaishen Aisi' then, is not just an account of the Naxal movement that rose, survived, faltered and eventually died in the dictatorial times of Indira Gandhi. As the title rightly suggests, it is about a thousand such dreams that have been left unfulfilled, or soured if realized! Not since Gulzar has a director managed to weave a political story with such assurance.
Siddharth(KayKay Menon) is a young affluent collegian who mulls over the state of affairs with his friends while they dope! Their Gods- Bob Marley, Karl Marx and Che Guevera! Fired with a desire to change things around rather than being dogmatic about the crisis like his earlier generation, he enters the Naxal movement. Joining him on his quest is Geeta(Chitrangada Singh), a woman who has no views of her own but believes that the man she loves must be right! Add to the mix a removed individual who could be an island if he wished! Vikram(Shiny Ahuja) couldn't care less about his country, but is madly in love with Geeta. Destiny takes these individuals on three different routes over the next five years and brings them together again at a time when the country is in turmoil and an Emergency declared. Siddharth is now an active member of the Naxal faction of Bihar, while Geeta is in an unhappy marriage to an IAS officer. Vikram meanwhile has become a 'fixer' and moves in the corridors of power and fame, raising toasts at social dos. Geeta begins an affair with Siddharth and soon accompanies him in his pursuit. As the nation gets chaotic in the following years, Indira Gandhi systematically eliminates all her threats by any means possible and emerges victorious. Siddharth and Geeta are just two of the many sufferers of this clamping down by the government. It is here when Vikram decides to use his influence to rescue his unrequited love, and more importantly- her love!
It is no mean task to include three lives spanning a decade in a script that is merely 120 minutes long. Writers Shiv Subramanium, Ruchi Narain and Mishra himself, do a wonderful job at that. However, one can't be left feeling that the proceedings get too episodic at times. The erratic editing(Catherine D'hoir) doesn't help! Without being construed as a censure, this story is actually suited for a two season series where characters can be allowed to have a development graph and every single incident given enough attention to! But one doubts if in the orgy of saas-bahu serials, any soul will be prepared to spare some time for a serious venture such as this. Let it be!
Mishra doesn't fall into the trap of making 'Hazaaron Khwaishen Aisi' into a generic political movie. In fact, the movie doesn't even show us any political leaders of the time. What Mishra does is use the cinematic language of allowing characters to be allegorical references to the whole! Vikram's failed love and his eventual state at the climax is just that- an allegory to what we have been left with. Siddharth's disillusionment also acts as a failure of the whole movement. And amidst all of this, Geeta finds her true voice. Her character assumes shape after going through upheavals of love, hope, disappointment, exploitation and finally comprehension! Much like our country indeed! The recurring haunting track, 'Man yeh bawaraa' aptly captures the mood and ethos, and lingers in you long after you've left the movie.
It is worth noting that nearly the whole film is spoken in the English language. This is the second such experience after Bhansali's 'Black'(although Mishra's film was completed much earlier). Though I do not have anything against the use of English in Hindi films(it is a sign of our times), I can't help wondering whether the preference is out of necessity or simply because these young writers think in English! Also, the fact that we are seduced by Vikram- the blithest character leaves you with a sense of guilt. I'm not sure if Mishra intended that!
But such minor quibbles left aside, 'Hazaaron Khwaishen Aisi' is a movie that must be seen by every collegian but sadly won't! They are too busy following the fads of the Johars and Chopras! And mind you, this movie is not an exercise in history lesson! There are some fine performances that adorn this cinematic jewel. KayKay is as he usually is- competent. In an underwritten character, he manages to do exceptionally well. Chitrangada Singh is eerily similar to the late Smita Patil. She is almost a reincarnate! Her emotional range aside, she is also a true Indian beauty- dark and elegant! Ram Kapoor as her husband leaves a definite impression. Eventually though, it is Shiny Ahuja's performance that rivets you the most. In a virtuoso display of talent, he announces himself to Bollywood. Whether it his cocky smirk, his dormant rage, his hidden anguish or his genuine irritation- Shiny is simply brilliant. Easily one of this year's best performances!
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17th April, 2005
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