Aamir Khan is a man who needs no introduction. I have always been intrigued by his process and personally consider him a ‘uniquely conscious actor’. One who has found a beautiful balance between dissolving into the character entirely, while simultaneously being aware and in total control of his work. Moving through the various hues of a young, rebellious Daljeet/DJ to portraying one of the greatest revolutionaries of our country, Chandrasekhar Azad in the same film Rang De Basanti; he only strengthens our insight into this very balance. DJ comes alive through the iconic method actor Aamir Khan is. As always, Rang De Basanti is witness to Aamir Khan’s pure passion for cinema as he imbues his heart and soul into DJ.
“Zindagi jeene ke do hi tarike hote hai. Ek jo ho raha hai hone do, bardaasht karte jao, ya phir zimmedari uthao usse badalne ki.”. A group of four care-free young men- Daljit (Aamir Khan), Karan Singhania (Siddharth), Aslam (Kunal Kapoor) and Sukhi (Sharman Joshi) choose the latter. Turning into freedom fighters, waging their own war for justice when their friend Sonia’s (Soha Ali Khan) fiancé, Ajay Rathod (Madhavan), an Indian Air Force flight lieutenant gets killed in a plane crash. When the government places the blame on Rathod, DJ and his friends investigate to find out that the crash was a result of a corrupt Defence Minister’s decision to sign a contract for cheap aircraft parts.
Remixing “Chookar mere mann ko” into “Suekar mere mann ko”, Aamir Khan as DJ playfully cajoles his lover, Sue (Alice Patten). Quick-witted and light-hearted, the peppy DJ is the unofficial captain of the group. We hear the same actor recite Pandit Ram Prasad Bismil’s revolutionary “Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna”. Aamir effortlessly crosses over from DJ’s child-like quirkiness into Azad’s magnetic patriotic fervour and back.
In the aftermath to the unforeseen tragedy, we witness a transformation in DJ. Caught in the spirit of rebellion, there is a very visceral change in him as his emotions turn more evident and striking. Betrayal converts him into a pure reflection of Azad. The effortlessness with which Aamir Khan executes this dynamic makes DJ unforgettable.
In a rather emotional moment, he shares with Sue that his reluctance to leave his college-life stems from the fear of getting left behind in the ‘rat race’ that awaits him outside. It is a moment most of us could relate to. Once out of college; to get engulfed by the fear of uncertainty, of not finding acceptance, of taking up newfound responsibilities, of not ending up successful in the world of ’employability’.
DJ is someone who chose to opt out of the race, clutching desperately to the last remnants of ‘the good life’. His very own comfort zone, his home away from home. But, compelled to act against an injustice, a flame is rekindled within. The same man who once feared he won’t make it in a world outside his college makes way for a fearless, fierce fighter who openly challenges a corrupt system. Aamir Khan does a tremendous job, putting out a unique signature to DJ’s transformation, mesmerising us with his performance yet again.
With narratives interwoven from a pre-Independent India and the present, Rang De Basanti, while echoing the struggles of an entire generation shows us that the angst of the past and the present remain the same. The film embodies a deeper revolutionary spirit; one that remains inspirational, influential and impactful. With DJ at its centre, standing unparalleled as the shining beacon of a new-age patriotism, the ‘RDB effect’ stays strong even today.
Disclaimer: This article has not been written by Film Companion’s editorial team.