Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Hazaaron Khwahishein Aisi

I’ve been wanting to write about Hazaaron Khwahishein Aisi ever since I saw it, but dallied this long because I didn’t know quite what to say. I won’t gush about it, nor will I trash it. Readers of this blog may have observed that I prefer to stay in the safe grey area about most things rather than mark anything as outright black or white. The fact is, I don’t think it is possible in the case of art (this includes music, dance, theatre, and films) to label anything as ‘good’ or bad’. Because I didn’t go through the experience of being in it, and I don’t know what the director’s thought-process was at the time of making it. What I can say is whether I enjoyed a production or not. Having said all that, I would have loved to be a part of ‘Hazaaron Khwahishein Aisi’.

But ‘enjoyed’ is not the right term to use to describe ‘Hazaaron Khwahishein Aisi’. It is, I think, not meant to be ‘enjoyed’. It is meant to wake you up. It is meant to make you think of what people in the early 70’s in India had to go through under the ruling government. It is meant to give you a ringside view of what it was like to be a student during the Emergency and pre-Emergency years of 1969-1975 in India. It is meant to touch you with its almost poetic presentation of emotions simultaneously so raw and pure – love, fear, hate, anger, evil.

And politics. This movie winds around politics in such a way that you hate what went on in the name of the government. Custodial deaths, police atrocities, political fixing. The Naxalite movement came up as a response to these, and it was an extremely idealistic and passionate group of students and people who had the courage to become Naxalites - that much I did take home. I wonder if I would have had the guts to be one of them, much as I identified with them.

New Delhi, 1969: Middle-class Vikram Malhotra loves Geeta Rao who loves rich kid Siddharth who is in love with his dream of a better India. After college, Siddharth becomes a Naxalite. Geeta marries Ram Kapoor, a British-educated IAS officer, but realizes her heart was always with Siddharth. She goes to join him in a village in Bihar. Vikram, determined to become rich, becomes a political fixer and never stops loving her, inspite of, for example, witnessing Geeta and Siddharth making love as a farewell party is in full swing in their last days of college.

I won’t say more than this because it wouldn’t be fair. There are scenes which are brilliant in their ability to touch your inner, most hidden emotions. There are performances which are near-perfect. Though some of the cast has come in for criticism, I found nearly all performances in the film above par, including the vile policemen and politicians, and the aging father of Siddharth. Kay Kay Menon, Chitrangada Singh and Shiny Ahuja as the principal characters have made considerable impact, essaying their roles with conviction. My only grouse was the last few frames of the film, where (and perhaps this is my own fault as a viewer) the seriousness of the story lapsed in front of the mirth that Shiny’s character exudes prior to that.

But watch the movie. To realize what kind of a country you live in. The political situation might have changed, but Indian politics is still much the same.

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