In 2006, director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra and writer Kamlesh Pandey created a different brand of nationalistic fervour amongst Indian audiences with their film Rang De Basanti – a trailblazing script that redefined and reinvented the traditional representation of patriotism by infusing the spunk and passion of youth and their influence into the patriotic landscape of our nation. It is a narrative that is bold, defiant and unconventional while retaining the core ideals of igniting pride and celebrating the privilege and spirit of being an Indian.
Rang De Basanti opens with the story of a young and carefree group of BFFs in the nation’s capital who spend their days chilling, drinking, laughing and living life in the moment. When a passionate British filmmaker urges them to enact the parts of inspirational revolutionaries and freedom fighters of the past for her documentary, they initially approach the job with indifference and even some scorn. But as the project takes form, they find themselves drawn powerfully towards the selfless achievements of their country’s great leaders whose bravery, commitment and sacrifice were instrumental in shaping the nation and its glorious history. Furthermore, when a national tragedy hits close to home, the friends realise the importance of using their voices to stand up against injustice, thus changing their lives forever.
With a cleverly scripted non-linear style of narration, director Mehra takes us on an inspiring journey of self-discovery and courage while rekindling the fiery spark of passion for and pride in one’s homeland. As he blurs the line between the past and the present, the protagonists literally and figuratively breathe the essence of the bravehearts who laid down their lives for the nation. Kamlesh Pandey’s rousing writing awakens the dormant corners of our hearts while AR Rahman’s anthemic melodies have an uplifting and soul-stirring quality. But the important takeaway from the film is the prominence bestowed on the young generation of Indians, the future of our country and their role in carrying forward the efforts of their predecessors. It puts forth the need for resonant voices that aim to unify, build positive thoughts and break down the walls of communal hatred and religious intolerance through fellowship and like-mindedness in action. Above all it calls for us, the citizens of the next generation, to look beyond caste and creed, community and religion, to unite as Indians and contribute to the progress and glory of our motherland.
Amalgamating these thoughts and feelings of community and national pride is an excellent ensemble cast who feed off each other while inhabiting the core of their own characters masterfully, never once overshadowing the sensibilities of their co-stars. The gamut of talent in the line-up, which includes the dignified and beauteous Waheeda Rehman, Aamir Khan, Atul Kulkarni, Madhavan, Siddharth, Soha Ali Khan, Sharman Joshi and Kunal Kapoor, amongst others, shows us how actors with diametrically diverse approaches to their craft can come together to create a riveting piece of work. This in itself is a beautiful metaphor in comprehending the soul of the film: “Together we are stronger, together we are unbroken, together we can do anything”.
Every once in a while a movie comes along that makes us question our commitment to our country, makes us ashamed about our indifference towards the horrors that exist, opens our eyes to the corruption, red-tapism and injustice that is prevalent in the system, and urges us to break down these walls to stand up for what’s right. Rang De Basanti is that kind of a film. It instils in us, as citizens, a sense of pride, joy and a feeling of purpose and responsibility to our motherland so that we may say “Jai Hind” not just through our words, but our actions too.
Disclaimer: This article has not been written by Film Companion’s editorial team.