Udaan Movie Review: Break On Through Tuesday, 27 July, 2010Posted by ~uh~™ in Bollywood.
Tags: Amit Trivedi, amitabh bhattacharya, Anurag Kashyap, drama, Manjot Singh, Ram Kapoor, Sanjat Singh, Social Dramas, Udaan, udaan movie review, udaan review, UTV Motion Pictures, Varun Khettry, Vikramaditya Motwane
This review was first published on PFC [link]. The pencil sketch is my original work.
Udaan is the directorial debut of Vikrmaditya Motwane. The film is written by him and Anurag Kashyap, the later being one of the producers of the movie. Udaan is a cinema based on real life characters set in midtown India about a timeless issue, directly related to every individual during their growing up years. At 17, most people don’t know what they want to do with their lives. At 35, most people realize that they should have done something which they loved to do at 17. The rest, just a handful, takes a path of their choice. Udaan is about realizing that choice in life. Though, Udaan is definitely not one of those ‘protagonist is a winner’ tales, but just a hint of the force to win. As they say, an end is always the beginning of something.
Udaan is an in-your-face film about adolescent aspirations and conflicts of tier-2 India. The story is a simple narrative of Rohan (Rajat Barmecha), a boy of 17 who gets expelled from a renowned residential school and is forced to return and stay with his widower dad, whom he has not met for eight years. Upon reaching his dad’s house at Jamshedpur, a laidback industrial town, he discovers his 6 year old step brother from his father’s second marriage, which he was not even aware of. Ronit Roy as the dad’s character is brilliantly real. A widower, alcoholic and authoritarian, this dad is probably just sensible only when drunk. He forces Rohan to work on his factory and pursue Engineering, against his will. Rohan dislikes his life as he wishes to become a writer. With time Rohan drifts away further and befriend diverted youths to vent out their frustrations by violent means. The Uncle (Ram Kapoor) tries to bridge the emotional gap for Rohan, but only partially.
The film develops slowly to establish the characters- the dictator dad, the imaginative but distracted Rohan, his affection seeking kid brother Arjun and the Uncle. The film maintains a dull and melancholic undertone throughout. Some interspersed contextual humour or some funny sequences comes as a relief, but that doesn’t disrupt the films focus on the sordid relationship and conflict between the main characters. With time, the film disturbingly delves into the characters deeper while the build-up culminates into a situation so real, it touches the audience’s mind deep within.
From the grey visuals of hopelessness to a long silent stare, the cinematography drags us into the world of Rohan, slowly and surely. The agonies of each and every character are depicted through snippets of daily life incidences. School, hospital, the daily morning run, the evenings shown in justified repetitions to establish a rigid routine mediocre life. However, the movie is narrated from a rather neutral perspective, leaving it to the conscience of the viewer to assign his/her sympathy. Most of the scenes are devoid of any background music, which accentuates the already tensed premises. To me only vivid absence was that of a contributing female character, but probably the contribution was by the prominent absence, I guess. Only the filmmaker knows best about his movie.
Top notch performances by the actors Rajat Barmecha and Ronit Roy, brilliant cinematography and visual narration, rock themed music from Amit Trivedi and meaningful lyrics from Amitabha Bhattacharyaa makes Udaan a cinema, which stays in mind. The song ‘Naav’ has inspiring lyrics with a rustic Indian flavor in its tune which sets in on the very first hearing. Beautiful lines of Hindi poetry adorn the narration while the visuals focus on barbed wires and dark smoke from the chimneys across the grey horizon. Manjot Singh (of Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye fame) is impressive in a small but significant presence. Metaphorical usage of grindhouse Hindi cinema ( Kanti Shah’s Angoor), a Superman toy, industrial landscapes, drinks on the glass adds to the simplistic portrayal of the small confined world of Rohan and the contrasting expanse of the lake and sky as his unbound aspirations. The pace of narration reminded me of Manorama Six Feet Under. It allows noticing the cinematic details to the keen observer. For others it may be ‘slow and boring’.
In a Hindi movie, seldom we see such sincerity, towards a subject, close to almost everyone who grew up in a small town ( or may be bigger) could relate to. The film is a stark exception to the ‘packaged and marketable characters in glossy foreign locale ’ rule which dominates the commercial Hindi filmmaking today. Udaan proves that good cinema may not necessarily need to be an escapist entertainment, but a mirror of reality, a statement and a trigger to introspect within ourselves. As a debut film of Vikramaditya Motwane, it’s exceptionally well made. Dull. Grey. Somber. Melancholic. Highly recommended for the serious movie lovers, Udaan sure will leave a lump in their throat.
Many people raise this question, ‘why should we watch a movie like Udaan and waste our quota for weekend entertainment, which doesn’t solve any problem, but just shows what we already know?’ or ‘ The story did not end properly’. Well, Cinema is a medium of expression by which a writer/ director expresses his feeling, makes a statement and leaves it to the interpretation, acceptance or rejection to the audience. The more real the story is , the difficult is to end it. Is there any ‘ending’ to real life stories ? As Satyajit Ray said – Cinemas of the world are not meant to change a society. The audience is. But Cinema has created sensible audience. What a cinema like Udaan probably does, it uses the language of cinema to educate and inspire many young Rohan’s to take off on the right direction, at the right time.
PS: Could not miss to notice the lyrics of the famous Doors number, recited by the old man in the hospital to Rohan.
You know the day destroys the night
Night divides the day
Tried to run
Tried to hide
Break on through to the other side