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Udaan Movie Review: Break On Through Tuesday, 27 July, 2010

Posted by ~uh~™ in Bollywood.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

This review was first published on PFC [link]. The pencil sketch is my original work.

Pyaro ki beriyan khwabon ko bandhe nahin re.....

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.

Kahani khatam huyee.... ya shuru honeko hai ?

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’.

The grey world of Rohan

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


1. doctoratlarge - Thursday, 29 July, 2010

interesting review, great sketch.
The movie has a good point to make, but a greater issue needs to be addressed. If one has a certain amount of moral courage and conviction of one’s aptitude and talents, parents are generally speaking the easiest to handle (not necessarily convince, though). Its the statements and judgments of one’s peer group and the implicit judgments that are provided gratuitously by the print and electronic media that are difficult to overcome. And if you are persistent enough, then you have to face the entire establishment (be it of writers or of artists) who are as conventional as any group of ordinary stockbrokers can be (in their own way of course); and this is the final stumbling block for many genuine talents.
Ever wonder why they used to write so much better in the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries? Because writers were not so well organized and institutionalized, there were no courses in creative writing, and fashions were never so concretized as they are today.
~uh~™ : I presume you have seen the movie. I guess the entire decision making process revolves around ‘passion’, ‘motivation’ and definition of ‘success’ during the teenage years. Unfortunately, success, in our country is only measured in monetary terms which is associated with ‘safe jobs’. Anything to do with creative talent is always linked to a huge amount of insecurity. Of course as you said, once the initial euphoria and delirium is over and the passion coverts to a ‘job’- it’s as good or bad as any job.
Thanks for sharing your thought and more importantly being man enough to enter the deserted comment section 😉

2. bluegrapes - Sunday, 8 August, 2010

Nice review! I would agree on your comment about ‘safe jobs’. I spent 6 years of my life chasing a degree that would get me a ‘safe job’ and now I am sick of it.

It’s interesting too see that generally its the un-creative sedentary jobs that have the highest monetary gain!!
~uh~™ : Your second part of the comment describes what we call ‘golden handcuff’.
Are you the same BG i know from MS ?

3. bluegrapes - Monday, 9 August, 2010


Yeah, I’m the same BG!! How have you been?
~uh~™ : So happy to see you, old pal ! Am good. I missed you. Hope the mail ID you’ve given, works ?

4. bluegrapes - Wednesday, 11 August, 2010

yes it does… I miss all of my MS buddies. Unfortunately, all of them seem to have vanished…. I write on my blog now. These days I’m writing about an inebriated albino goldfish!!

Stay in touch!!

~uh~™ : dropped you an email few days back, but didn’t get any response. Am following your story of the silver goldfish. Its very interesting but moving bit slow…

5. Umer Sharif - Thursday, 12 August, 2010

Very interesting Movie, and Nice Review!!
~uh~™ : Watch the movie !

6. Sukhada - Friday, 3 September, 2010

This is one awesome review..

Re-read it today, love the sketch.
~uh~™ : Thanks Sukhada. Did you see the movie ?

7. Ravi - Friday, 10 September, 2010

Good review. Read it earlier when you posted, but read again today. I will definitely watch this movie.

As I remember, Apu Trilogy by Satyajit Ray also did not have happy endings. But the movies are classic.

If you want ‘Happy Endings’, watch Rajshri movies. 🙂

8. Bollywood Movie Review: UDAAN – 2010 « Blank Page Beatdown - Friday, 13 January, 2012

[…] Udaan Movie Review: Break On Through (udtahaathi.wordpress.com) […]

9. Bollywood Movie Review: UDAAN - 2010 : Blank Page Beatdown - Wednesday, 10 July, 2013

[…] Udaan Movie Review: Break On Through (udtahaathi.wordpress.com) […]

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