Why Udaan Is My Favorite Coming-Of-Age film

Through the eyes of the protagonist, it tackles themes of familial conflict, shattered dreams, and the pursuit of personal freedom
Why Udaan Is My Favorite Coming-Of-Age film

Coming-of-age movies are a genre that has never failed to captivate me, especially when the plotline resonates with my personal experiences. These films delve into various relevant themes and concepts, such as self-discovery, personal growth, overcoming insecurities, internal struggles, defying societal norms, and the intricate process of transitioning into adulthood. For troubled teenagers like myself, these movies offer solace, impart inspiring life lessons, and provide a platform for introspection.

In my relentless pursuit of validation and a way to navigate life's challenges, coming-of-age films have been a guiding light. They offer a refreshing departure from the traditional academic and work-oriented narrative, allowing me to explore the complexities of my own journey and find solace in knowing that I am not alone. These films depict characters who are grappling with their own insecurities, battling societal expectations, and ultimately carving their own paths. Coming-of-age movies offer a unique opportunity for troubled teenagers like myself to find solace, derive inspiration, and reflect on our own experiences. These films provide a much-needed escape from the pressures of academic conformity and societal expectations. With their relatable characters and poignant storytelling, they empower us to break free from the shackles of tradition and embark on our own journey of self-discovery and personal growth.

One particular movie that has profoundly impacted me is Udaan directed by Vikramaditya Motwane. It stands as a testament to the power of the coming-of-age genre. The film masterfully portrays the intricacies of adolescence and the arduous process of self-discovery. Through the eyes of the protagonist, it tackles themes of familial conflict, shattered dreams, and the pursuit of personal freedom. The raw emotions and authenticity of the performances, coupled with the compelling narrative, make Udaan an exceptional coming-of-age film.

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Udaan follows the story of Rohan, a rebellious teenager who is expelled from boarding school and forced to return home to his authoritarian father. As he navigates the strict and oppressive environment, Rohan discovers solace and freedom through his passion for poetry and his bond with his younger half-brother, ultimately striving to break free from the shackles of societal expectations and pursue his dreams of becoming a writer.

I watched Udaan two weeks ago on April 24 with my father and it impacted both of us on a personal level. As a teenager going through various kinds of hardships, doubts, insecurities and ongoing battles with societal expectations and pressure, this movie provided comfort, made me relate to it and implanted a seed which ensured that this movie will stay with me for a long time.

One of the main reasons why coming-of-age films hold a special place in my heart is their ability to portray the challenges faced by adolescents in a raw and authentic manner. I deeply appreciate movies that offer a nuanced and genuine exploration of the journey towards self-discovery and personal growth, and Udaan exemplifies these qualities.

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One of the main reasons why I admire Udaan so much is its character and relationship dynamics. After getting expelled, Rohan moves back to his hometown, where he meets his father, Bhairav, who hasn't visited him in eight years. After visiting home, Rohan finds out that he has a six-year-old half brother named Arjun who he had no idea about. The character dynamics of Rohan and Bhairav are interesting to say the least. Bhairav is shown as a strict authoritarian who rules his house with an iron fist and believes that strictness and being hard on his children brings out the best out of them. He is a factory owner who believes in the typical idea of masculinity, forces Rohan to study engineering and pushes him to work with him in his factory. He tells both of his sons to refer to him as "sir".

Rohan is shown as a completely different kind of man- kind, compassionate and caring, although flawed due to the trauma and loneliness he's faced, and the lack of compassion by his father. His support system are his friends and his supportive uncle who's also very different from the kind of man his father is. Where Arjun is sent to the hospital after his father abuses him, Rohan takes care of him. It's an evolution from their earlier strained relationship and proves that Rohan is a different man than his father is. The development of relationship of Rohan and Arjun is also depicted through the hospital scenes - initially, Arjun doesn't let Rohan change his clothes for him, but he eventually trusts him enough to let him do it.

Bhairav's character also reveals aspects of toxic masculinity. He fat-shames his brother and belittles him for his inability to have children, perpetuating harmful societal expectations of masculinity. Toxic masculinity refers to the adherence to rigid, harmful stereotypes of what it means to be a man, often leading to aggression, emotional suppression, and the devaluation of others based on gender. In Udaan, the contrasting characters of Bhairav and Rohan, their relationship dynamics, and the exploration of toxic masculinity contribute to the film's depth and thematic richness.

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This movie, Udaan, played a significant role during a period often referred to as the resurgence of the Indian parallel cinema movement. The movement originated in the 1950s as an alternative to mainstream commercial Indian cinema and was spearheaded by renowned filmmakers like Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak, Bimal Roy, Mrinal Sen, and others. However, by the 1990s, a decline in budgets and rising production costs led to a shortage of such films being made in India.

It was in the early 2000s that a new wave of offbeat filmmakers emerged, including Ram Gopal Varma, Mani Ratnam, Nagesh Kukunoor, Rituparno Ghosh, Sudhir Mishra, Mira Nair, Dibakar Banerjee, Anurag Kashyap, Shonali Bose, Rajkumar Hirani, Shoojit Sircar, Anand Gandhi, and Vikramaditya Motwane himself. These filmmakers revitalized the realist cinema movement, where audiences were drawn to films based on their content rather than the presence of big stars or studio names.

Udaan stands as an important contribution to this resurgence due to the themes, motifs, and methods employed by Vikramaditya Motwane. One of the techniques he uses to convey the characters' emotions is through the absence of exposition and background scores, relying on subtlety and silence to explore the weight of each situation. Symbolism plays a crucial role in the film, starting with the names of the main characters. The name "Bhairav" is derived from Hindu mythology - Lord Bhairav is considered the god of punishment. The meaning of the name perfectly aligns with the character of Bhairav Singh, who is portrayed as fearsome. The name "Arjun," meaning "pure," suits the innocent young child in the story, while "Rohan" signifies "to ascend," reflecting the movie's central theme of a young boy's desire to break free from constraints and soar.

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Another instance of symbolism and thematic expression is depicted through the film's settings. The story takes place in two major cities, Shimla and Jamshedpur. Shimla is portrayed with lush greenery, symbolizing the happiness Rohan experiences with his close friends. On the other hand, the industrial town of Jamshedpur is depicted as filled with factories and statues of important industrial figures but lacking greenery, showcasing the deterioration of Rohan's mental health and diminishing happiness levels in the town.

Another significant instance of symbolism in Udaan is the daily morning runs initiated by Bhairav, who wakes Rohan up early and berates him if he fails to keep up. This recurring symbol serves as a motif throughout the film, representing the daily struggles and challenges Rohan faces. Each day, Rohan pushes himself to make progress and prove his worth, despite the constant pressure and criticism from his father. Towards the climax of the movie, this motif takes on a powerful meaning. As the conflict between Rohan and Bhairav intensifies, Rohan decides to break free from his father's control. In a pivotal scene, Rohan runs away from Bhairav, with his father chasing after him. This chase sequence becomes a visual representation of their conflicting ideologies and the struggle for freedom. During this moment, Rohan runs with incredible speed, like the wind, while Bhairav fails to catch up. This scene symbolizes Rohan's growth, resilience, and determination to break away from the oppressive grip of his father and pursue his own dreams. It showcases how Rohan has transformed from a vulnerable teenager into a strong individual capable of charting his own path.

Another significant moment in Rohan's character development is when he decides to confront his fears and face the challenges within his own family. Despite his desire to escape the oppressive environment created by his father, Rohan realizes that he cannot leave his younger half-brother, Arjun, behind to suffer the same fate. In a powerful act of compassion and responsibility, Rohan chooses to return home, defying his father's authority one last time. His intention is not only to bid a heartfelt goodbye to his supportive uncle, but also to rescue Arjun from the toxic environment and potential abuse. This decision showcases Rohan's growth from a troubled teenager to a mature individual willing to protect his loved ones.

The final portrayal of symbolism in Udaan occurs in the closing moments of the film, where Rohan sends a letter to Bhairav and returns the watch given to him as a family heirloom. This act holds significant symbolic meaning, representing Rohan's ultimate rejection of the patriarchal system and the cycle of abuse that has plagued their family for years. Returning the watch holds even deeper symbolism. The watch, as a familyheirloom, represents the legacy and expectations passed down through generations. By relinquishing the watch, Rohan symbolically renounces the traditional notions of masculinity and authority that Bhairav embodies. It is a powerful gesture of defiance and a declaration that he will forge his own path, free from the weight of inherited expectations.

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Udaan stands out not only for its compelling story and powerful performances but also for its exceptional technical craftsmanship. The film's cinematography captures the essence of the characters and their surroundings, immersing the audience in the emotional journey. The precise editing seamlessly weaves together the narrative, maintaining a steady pace that keeps viewers engaged. The production design and art direction effectively create contrasting environments, reflecting the characters' inner struggles. The sound design enhances the immersive experience, heightening the emotional impact of each scene. The costumes aptly reflect the characters' personalities and societal roles, adding depth to their visual portrayal. Collectively, these technical elements elevate Udaan, creating a rich and immersive cinematic experience.

Rajat Barmecha's performance as Rohan in Udaan is nothing short of remarkable. In his debut role, Barmecha delivers a nuanced and emotionally charged portrayal of a young boy grappling with various internal and external challenges. He effortlessly captures Rohan's vulnerability, frustration, and resilience, making his character relatable and deeply empathetic. Barmecha's ability to convey complex emotions through subtle gestures and expressions is commendable, adding depth to the character's journey of self-discovery and personal growth. His on-screen presence is captivating, holding the audience's attention with his raw and honest performance. Barmecha's portrayal of Rohan is a testament to his talent and makes us all wonder why an actor of his calibre couldn't be utilized by Bollywood even in thirteen years since the movie released ?

Ronit Roy's portrayal of Bhairav Singh in Udaan is a masterclass in acting. With his commanding screen presence and intense performance, Roy brings to life the character of a strict and authoritarian father. He captures the essence of Bhairav's complex personality, balancing his authoritative nature with moments of vulnerability and emotional turmoil, like the scene where he talks about why he didn't go to meet Rohan in eight years, because he saw that Rohan was happy. Roy's powerful portrayal evokes a range of emotions, from fear to sympathy, as we witness the layers of Bhairav's character unfold throughout the film like an onion. His ability to convey the internal conflicts and struggles of a deeply flawed individual is truly commendable. Roy's commanding presence and nuanced performance add depth and authenticity to the film, making his portrayal of Bhairav a standout aspect of Udaan. 

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Ram Kapoor portrays the character of Jimmy, Rohan's supportive uncle. With his natural charm and warmth, Kapoor brings a sense of compassion and guidance to his character. He captures the essence of a caring and understanding figure who becomes a pillar of support for Rohan in his tumultuous journey. Kapoor's nuanced performance adds depth to the emotional moments shared between Jimmy and Rohan, leaving a lasting impact on the audience.

Aayan Boradia, in his debut performance, shines as Arjun, Rohan's younger half-brother. Despite his young age, Boradia displays remarkable talent and delivers a heartwarming portrayal of an innocent and impressionable child. His on-screen chemistry with Rajat Barmecha (Rohan) is endearing, as their relationship evolves from initial hesitation to a genuine bond. Boradia's natural acting skills and adorable presence add an authentic and relatable dimension to the film, capturing the essence of childhood innocence and vulnerability.

Despite having limited screen time, Anand Tiwari and Manjot Singh make a lasting impression with their performances in Udaan. Anand Tiwari portrays the character of Vijay, Rohan's friend who provides a source of solace and support. Tiwari's subtle yet impactful portrayal brings a sense of genuineness and friendship to his character, leaving a mark even in his limited presence on screen.

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Manjot Singh, known for his comic roles, surprises the audience with his portrayal of Maninder, Rohan's roommate at the boarding school. Singh brings depth and sensitivity to his character, showcasing his versatility as an actor. Despite having fewer scenes, Singh's performance captures the essence of a troubled teenager, adding layers to the narrative and highlighting the challenges faced by adolescents in the boarding school environment.

Lastly, I would like to talk about the beautiful music, lyrics and poetry used in this gem of a movie created by Amit Trivedi, Amitabh Bhattacharya and Satyanshu Singh respectively. The song 'Naav' is a notable composition that adds depth and emotional resonance to the film. It is a poignant and introspective track that reflects the inner turmoil and longing for escape experienced by the protagonist, Rohan. 'Naav' beautifully captures the essence of Rohan's journey as he navigates through the challenges of life and searches for his own identity. The song's lyrics are introspective and introspective, delving into themes of self-discovery, courage, and the desire to break free from societal expectations.

Amit Trivedi's soulful vocals and the melancholic melody create a somber and reflective mood, perfectly complementing the introspective nature of the lyrics. The music arrangement is simple yet evocative, allowing the emotions to take center stage. 'Naav' serves as a metaphorical representation of Rohan's metaphorical boat, symbolizing his quest for freedom and self-realization. The song's introspective nature and emotional depth resonate with audiences, inviting them to contemplate their own personal journeys and aspirations. Overall, 'Naav' is a powerful and evocative song that adds a layer of emotional depth to Udaan. It showcases the film's ability to intertwine music with storytelling, allowing the audience to connect with the characters on a deeper level and experience their struggles and triumphs. 

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The title song of Udaan holds a significant place in the film, serving as a powerful anthem that captures the essence of the story and the emotions of the characters. Composed by Amit Trivedi and beautifully penned by Amitabh Bhattacharya, the title track sets the tone for the film and becomes an integral part of its narrative.The song 'Udaan' is a heartfelt and soul-stirring composition that reflects the spirit of freedom, resilience, and breaking free from the constraints of life. With its uplifting melody and poignant lyrics, it resonates deeply with the audience, mirroring the journey of the protagonist, Rohan, as he strives to overcome his obstacles and pursue his dreams. The vocals by Amit Trivedi himself add an authentic touch to the song, infusing it with raw emotions and capturing the essence of Rohan's struggles and aspirations. The music is beautifully arranged, blending various instruments and creating a captivating atmosphere that enhances the impact of the lyrics. The title song of Udaan not only serves as a musical gem but also acts as a narrative device, conveying the central themes and emotions of the film. It encapsulates the longing for freedom, the pursuit of dreams, and the resilience to overcome obstacles. The song's poignant lyrics and soulful composition make it a standout piece in the film's soundtrack and further elevate the storytelling experience.

 The song 'Azaadiyan' from the movie Udaan is a soul-stirring composition that encapsulates the theme of freedom and liberation. It is a powerful and emotionally charged track that resonates with the audience and reflects the struggles and aspirations of the characters in the film. 'Azaadiyan' is an anthem of hope and resilience. The lyrics delve into the desire to break free from societal constraints, chase dreams, and embrace a life of independence. The song beautifully captures the yearning for freedom and the determination to overcome obstacles. The melodious and uplifting music of 'Azaadiyan' elevates the spirit of the song. Amit Trivedi's enchanting vocals, coupled with the soulful backing vocals, create a captivating and inspiring atmosphere. The composition seamlessly blends various musical elements, creating a memorable and harmonious experience for the listeners. The visuals accompanying the song further enhance its impact. The film captures the essence of freedom through breathtaking visuals, showcasing the characters' pursuit of their dreams and their moments of liberation. The song's placement within the narrative amplifies its emotional significance and adds depth to the storytelling. 'Azaadiyan' has resonated with audiences for its powerful message and heartfelt rendition. It serves as an anthem of determination, inspiring individuals to break free from societal norms, pursue their passions, and embrace their own unique journey towards liberation.

The song 'Kahani' holds a special place in the hearts of many, including mine. It is a beautifully crafted composition that combines heartfelt lyrics, soulful vocals, and mesmerizing music to create a truly memorable experience. 'Kahani' delves into the depths of emotions and tells a profound story. The lyrics paint vivid imagery and evoke a sense of nostalgia and introspection. They beautifully capture the essence of personal struggles, dreams, and the bittersweet journey of life.The song is a testament to the versatility and talent of Amit Trivedi as a composer. The music of 'Kahani' is soothing and melodic, creating a tranquil and introspective ambiance. The blend of acoustic instruments, gentle melodies, and soft percussions enhances the emotional depth of the song, allowing the listeners to immerse themselves in its essence. Vocally, the song is a gem, with Joi Barua and Neuman Pinto's soulful rendition adding an extra layer of emotion to the lyrics. His heartfelt delivery captures the essence of the song's themes, making it a deeply personal and relatable experience for the listeners. The visuals accompanying the song further elevate its impact. The film beautifully captures the essence of storytelling, using visual metaphors and captivating imagery to enhance the emotions conveyed through the song. The seamless integration of music and visuals creates a mesmerizing experience, immersing the audience in the world of 'Kahani.'

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The song 'Geet mein dhalte lafzon mein' captures the essence of a moment when words fail to express the depth of emotions. It delves into the realm of unspoken feelings, where the melody becomes a medium to convey the unsaid. The lyrics are poetic and introspective, exploring the nuances of love, longing, and the beauty of unspoken connections. Musically, 'Geet Mein Dhalte Lafzon Mein' is a soulful composition. The soothing melodies, gentle guitar strums, and ambient background score create an enchanting atmosphere. The music gracefully accompanies the heartfelt lyrics, creating an immersive experience for the listeners. Vocally, the song is beautifully performed, with the singer infusing it with raw emotions. The nuances in the vocals add layers of depth, perfectly complementing the introspective nature of the lyrics. The song's gentle and soothing pace further enhances its emotional impact, making it a memorable piece in the film's soundtrack. Visually, the song is presented in a subtle and evocative manner, capturing the essence of unspoken emotions through imagery and expressions. The visuals beautifully translate the depth of the song, adding an extra layer of meaning to the lyrics and melodies.

'Motumaster' is a comical song from the Udaan soundtrack, composed by Amit Trivedi and penned by the film's producer, Anurag Kashyap. Although the song didn't make it into the final cut of the film, it was included in the album and became a favorite among the audience. The song is a light-hearted and humorous take on the character Motumaster, in the film. It adds a fun and playful element to the soundtrack, offering a refreshing contrast to the overall emotional tone of the movie.

With its catchy tunes, witty lyrics, and energetic beats, 'Motumaster' is a delightful addition to the Udaan soundtrack. It showcases Amit Trivedi's versatility as a composer, as he effortlessly transitions from the film's poignant melodies to a more light-hearted and entertaining track. Anurag Kashyap's lyrics add to the comedic value of the song, incorporating clever wordplay and humorous anecdotes. The lyrics playfully describe Motumaster's larger-than-life personality and exaggerated characteristics, creating a memorable and enjoyable musical experience. While 'Motumaster' may not have been included in the film itself, it still managed to capture the attention of the audience through its inclusion in the album. It offers a moment of levity and laughter amidst the film's intense and emotionally charged narrative, providing a welcome break and showcasing the film's ability to balance different tones.

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In Udaan, Rohan's poems serve as a powerful form of self-expression and reflection for the character. Through his poetry, Rohan finds solace and a means to channel his emotions and thoughts. His poems encapsulate the struggles, dreams, and desires of a troubled teenager, providing a window into his inner world. The words flow with a raw and honest intensity, capturing the complexities of his journey towards self-discovery. Rohan's poems not only showcase his talent as a writer but also become a voice for his innermost thoughts and emotions, allowing the audience to connect with his experiences on a deeper level. Each poem serves as a poignant reminder of the power of words and the cathartic release they offer, further enhancing the narrative of the film and adding layers of depth to Rohan's character.

 In conclusion, the impact of Udaan on my life has been profound. Through its compelling storytelling, relatable characters, and powerful themes of self-discovery and personal liberation, the film resonated with me as a troubled teenager navigating my own challenges and insecurities. It provided comfort, inspiration, and a sense of solace, reminding me that I am not alone in my struggles and that the pursuit of one's dreams is worth the risks and obstacles faced along the way.

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