BLOODY MARY – Rang de Bizarre
February 21st, 2006 by Neha Bagoria

FIVE BADLY behaved but photogenic young louts and their hanger-on girl regularly gath er at night at a geographical feature resembling the Grand Canyon. There they take deep slugs of beer. Next they speed through rural Punjab on motorbikes and eat parathas with one of their mothers who tells them about Sikh folklore. One of them returns home, which is a pillared palace, where a nasty father sips whisky in the morning and clinches an evil weapons deal. The `Muslim’ member of the gang goes back to a very `Muslim’ home where a lungi-clad dad is waiting to deliver a short seminar paper on Partition, vote bank politics and other `Muslim’ issues.

A pretty (but cerebral) cultural tourist from Britain arrives. She reminds the foul-mouthed brats about their history. She wants to (and does) make a documentary on Bhagat Singh and Chandrashekhar Azad in which the five take the main roles. Each of the gang informs the British tourist about the hollowness of their lives by delivering caricaturespeeches entitled `Youth Alienation’. “I am young,” they intone, “but without ideals. Am therefore cut off from my country. My country is bad. The system sucks. Therefore, I am an alienated youth.” But as the documentary progresses and the British film-maker introduces them to Bhagat Singh and others, they realise how best they can conquer their boredom. By assassinating some important people, of course.

The five ghastly friends have a fighter pilot friend whom they don’t seem to care about much. Or do they? We never know. In fact, this friendship with the fighter pilot is the most crucial relationship in the film but it doesn’t get more than three seconds of time or script. On one single occasion the gang rides with the pilot to a ruined monument with MiGs flying overhead. Later, the fighter pilot friend is killed piloting an MiG, and the five decide that even though they’ve not spent much time with the fighter pilot, even though they don’t really know him too well, they must immediately murder the defence minister.

So they do. They also kill the awful whisky-oriented dad who got rich from bringing in the MiGs in the first place. While they kill the neta and the dad, pictures of Bhagat Singh and Azad play in the background, forcing us to believe that criminal spoilt brats are actually freedom fighters.

The climax of Rang De Basanti is perhaps the most chilling, the most strange. It takes place in the glare of 24-hour news media and radio. It is a technicolour death on TV. Young people from all across the land roar out their approval of the bloody-minded youths on TV. The action unfolds on TV and FM radio, as the fallen five wait to die in a denouement captured in second-to-second radio and television drama. A mammoth TV crowd bellows out its hatred of the politician. Another TV throng screams its loathing of The System. A jostling, demented, anarchic TV populace, like a purple-faced crowd in a Roman amphitheatre, yells for more blood to be spilled, both of villain and hero. All on 24-hour-TV. Scary! Why is Rang De Basanti a scary film? Because it is a film that is unable to distinguish between media and reality. It is the ultimate madein-media-India film. It is not rooted in any kind of reality, does not explore the position of the politician in our society, nor does it tell any kind of tale of heroism and ideals, nor does it bother to find real believable people in a real believable situation.

Sure Bollywood is all fantasy anyway, but the best fantasies are always those that are, as Javed Akhtar once said, like kites that are tied firmly to a stake in the earth, not simply kites in free fall. The transcendent brilliance of Sholay was not just its luminous script but its perfectly located reality: the fact that the story was real, the characters were believable. Veeru and Jai are far greater patriots than the neon-lit young people of Rang De Basanti gyrating to disco music one night and gunning down the defence minister the next.

Some blame the electronic media. That 24-hour news television is fostering a brute unthinking hatred of the politician and `The System’. Fostering hatred in full technicolour, where politician-abuse creates media stars on the one hand, and on the other creates a simple-minded society where the young must be either drunk or suicidal killers. But that’s an unfair criticism. The media simply do their job and their job is to expose, to bombard and to deliver news. The media are undoubtedly a double-edged sword. It brings the politician up for public scrutiny in a sensational way. Yet, the media are also a robust public service that democratises debate and brings lofty issues right down to the street or to the panchayat or to the college dorm. It would be unfair to accuse the media of encouraging young people to murder politicians.

A democratic citizenry must see the media as its ally in activism, not seek to gear its life to being on camera, as this film shows its heroes doing. A democratic citizenry must not become so enamoured, indeed so enslaved, by the media that it seeks to emulate in daily life. To become a dumb media animal with no sense of life or perspective outside radio or television, is to waltz closer to the abyss. An abyss of glittering bingo halls and bizarre `locales’ with no sense of how people actually live or speak, other than that captured by the camera. The media are a comrade in the fight, not a god that demands obedience.

Even youthful nationalism is not what Rang De Basanti makes it out to be. A group of idealistic young students from IIT have recently launched a `political party’. Started in Jodhpur, it’s called `Paritrana‘ and its national president is a B.Tech in aerospace from IIT Bombay. Their aim is the “complete relief from distress” and they’ve been carrying out quiet unfussy door-to-door campaigns across Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

In fact, many public-spirited young people are working at all kinds of initiatives across India and lots of dramatic films can be made on the many complex situations that are arising everyday in their lives. Rang De Basanti does a terrible disservice to the nationalism of India’s young people. It wilfully paints modern day patriots as unthinking anti-establishment killers. It foolishly creates a myth known as Gen Next which does nothing but drink and dance. And it promotes a leviathan media as the ultimate interpreter of India.

The fact that Rang De Basanti is a hit shows just how catastrophically distant we are getting from reality, where we’re happy to live from media image to media image, from frame to frame, without realising the depth and profundity of `ordinary’ human dramas.

Courtesy: The writer is features editor CNN-IBN

28 Responses  
Anonymous writes:
February 21st, 2006 at 10:42 am

“It would be unfair to accuse the media of encouraging young people to murder politicians. ”

I understand that this editor wanna keep his stand , by supporting media or his profession.

It is a profession which brings everything to public view . The people who are affected by some incident would know the culprits behind the scenes. Though the media doesn’t explicitly say the citizens to go and kill the criminals, it gives all the clues to the victims to suppress their vengeance. So, media could be accused indirectly.

What does the writer wanna say. “The next generation does something more than Drink n Dance. I am sure the writer is pretty dumb, in understanding concepts. The director is explaining about a bunch, not the whole world. n by reality what the movie shows about youth is partially true”

rakhu writes:
February 21st, 2006 at 11:19 am

nothin to learn ………………
just go and enjoy …………….

who cares abt reality stuff…hah

Anonymous writes:
February 21st, 2006 at 9:07 pm

hm….i hvnt seen the filim….but heard its a good movie….

Anonymous writes:
February 22nd, 2006 at 3:05 am

hey its too big to read da tell me in short….

Anonymous writes:
February 22nd, 2006 at 6:21 am

Nagraj…well nice to read the diff of opinion…well I do think tht, we can’t really uproot corruption jus by killin’ or shootin’ like warriors…I mean its no solution for the prob…although I do understand tht movies are meant for entertainment…but one can’t really support all the actions by heros as heroic…then we don expect preachers outta movies :>

Rakhu, very true who really cares, till we bother to ignite the fire within us.

Xh, yep its a nice movie…gud songs…nice overall feel(till we really don feel)…so how cum u still not mangaed to see this movie…hey now u don need to, as this article has disclosed the whole story na…neway try catch up with it 😀

Sri…yep its too long…okie if u already seen the movie then jus read frst 2 n last 2 paras…u can get fair idea bout this whole episode :))

sood13545 writes:
February 22nd, 2006 at 7:17 am

haven’t seen the movie yet. have heard of rave reviews; and now this article that u’ve reproduced are pushing me to have a dekho in the coming weekend. afterwards only i’ll comment on the article.

Arun writes:
February 22nd, 2006 at 7:33 am

LOL… this is a beautiful movie…. However it is enjoy our youth…

Arun KP

Don DiDo (^_*) writes:
February 23rd, 2006 at 1:52 pm

i didnt see the movie too,but i agree with u , we cant end the bad thing or ppl acts by killing, cus it is the law of forest ,but there r better solutions.. thax for opening this issue

karan maan writes:
February 23rd, 2006 at 11:39 pm

9…….juss wait lemme laugh wat u posted as blog,,i fully agree with u n dunt take it offensive…ok here i start ha ha ha ha ..he he hehhe….u knw u muss be a critic…i fell frm chair when i read ur blog juss by chance,,,,hmmmmm it was a delight reaing ur blog n reminded me one of my frenn isha i called her “boldu” due to her views…n ya,,,,,sme north indians r also into bloggin…..i havent watched movie ,,but surel;y m goin to watch it nw..spl wat u mentioned abt tht piolet(3 sec) n the decide to murder the defence minister…keep writinmg,,,now m surely goin to visit ur page…wors were rite it really showe true sarcasm in a gud manner,,have a nice day

Anonymous writes:
February 24th, 2006 at 6:44 am

Nice post! First of a kind review i’v ever seen! Have not seen the movie though! Will do it when the VCD comes out!

Anonymous writes:
February 24th, 2006 at 11:50 am

I’ve seen the movie…. The first half is amazing… its shot is a very beautiful way… the way they have caught the parallel stuff with the bhagat sigh group and the DJ’s gang.

I went to see the movie thinking it will be great…. but, i dont rate it as “great”… it was only “Okay… fine!” sort of movie. The concept which they thought of was good… but there was something wrong the in the way they chose to convey it… I cant figure out where they went wrong though!

– AM

Anonymous writes:
February 24th, 2006 at 5:52 pm

Hey good citation!! The article is good and the issue raised is worth discussion. I agree with most of the things. But isnt it like anyother (at least 99%) bollywood movies which are too distant from reality.(what about “Gadar”, didn’t it exploit the concept of “nationalism”).

Anonymous writes:
February 25th, 2006 at 9:46 pm

wow a g8 one indeed!!!! lol :))

I was thinking to see the film,
now I’m feeling lucky I won’t ;(

Anonymous writes:
February 26th, 2006 at 3:34 pm

It is a big blog Neha, What caught my attention was the caption on the photo, “What they don’t teach at IIT”, which made me to read the whole blog patiently. At the end I couldn’t figure out why IIT name was dragged into this whole thing. I haven’t seen the movie, neither an intention to. Can any one clarify the relevance of the caption given to that photo?

May I request all to refrain from dragging the name of one of the most premier and reputed institutions in the world for petty reasons and occasions like these !!!

Anonymous writes:
February 26th, 2006 at 8:07 pm

Yep Chandra, you are right. Indeed its a big blog my friend.
Good u have tried something different.

Piyush Ranjan S writes:
February 27th, 2006 at 7:30 pm

Couldn’t read the whole Blog..but seems to be interesting. Have intentions to see the movie near future 🙂

Anonymous writes:
February 28th, 2006 at 1:10 am

Chandra, about that IIT thing, if you have noticed, it was actually the scan from a newspaper or some printed material. And at the end of the post, Neha has clearly mentioned: Courtesy: CNN-IBN.

According to my observation, Neha found this article pretty interesting due to the review in a different light projecting the violence. Thats why she posted it.

But, according to the real article, it was not just a review… its more onto the real theme of the movie,
`Youth Alienation’. “I am young,” they intone, “but without ideals. Am therefore cut off from my country. My country is bad. The system sucks. Therefore, I am an alienated youth.”

So what the article meant by IIT is a generalized view of indian youth… that even inspite of their good education, they dont think logically… something like that!

So this is what I think happened. If I’m wrong plz correct me!


Anonymous writes:
February 28th, 2006 at 8:18 pm

Did I sound in my comment that,Neha brought IIT into conversation?

If so, my english is bad.

My intention was to finger point the publicity agent of the film to have brought IIT into picture to gain cheap publicity.Whether we may agree to it or not,it is the apparent fact.

Anonymous writes:
February 28th, 2006 at 9:32 pm

eh! so much serious discussion over RDB. i’d rather say it’s just another bollywood movie and leave it there 🙂

btw – it’was gud to catch up with you y’day.


Anonymous writes:
February 28th, 2006 at 10:31 pm

Hey… I dint think about the publicity agent!

Now everything makes sense! I agree with you yaar…. how can can they simply drag IITs name in this still…. yeah, if they have done it for publicity, that its BAD! What I think is the picture is different and the review is different. Whatever… enuf of this. The movie was sortof OKAY… some may like and some may not. Personally speaking, I dint find any soul in the movie even though the theme and direction was good.

Anonymous writes:
March 8th, 2006 at 8:37 pm

what was it????

Anonymous writes:
March 14th, 2006 at 10:21 am

Hey tht was a cool upsurge…nice to read all ur comments..well the post is not meant to defame ne inst…I appericiate the writer’s views on the movie so thought to have opinion bout it…Awasthy u got it all rite buddy…chandra I jus posted the article with my no-personal inputs though…but we had nice conversation over it 🙂

kooool writes:
March 20th, 2006 at 7:01 am

seeeing is believing………just see the merc cls-class………and decideeeeeeee………..

R Selvakkumar writes:
March 22nd, 2006 at 11:04 am

In Tamil a new movie is doing well, called “Thambi”, incidently Madhavan is the hero of the movie. It’s the perfect answer for this blog. The message is ‘A killer is not a winner. Only a savior is the winner’

Noah writes:
April 6th, 2006 at 6:05 pm

I totally agree with this review of this movie.. the writer has brought to notice some very good nad interesting facts about the media and its bad effect..
The movie is a total and absolute crap and its only goal is to earn more and more money by inducing all kind of MASALA so that ppl do like it.. in the name of Patriotism and Deshbhakti these film makers are able to make big bucks.. If they really want to show something good and effective they should make films like Swades where ppl really do something constructive instead of killing politians..

Very nice review..

Widiot Wasim writes:
April 10th, 2006 at 9:14 am


My comment seemed too long to be posted as a comment and secondly I had a topic in ming I wanted to blog about. So some bitching here.

Anonymous writes:
April 13th, 2006 at 12:00 am

well..a different opinion of the movie…well have to say it does make sense…but i really liked the movie..n that’s all i know….n am cared of…

Anonymous writes:
May 12th, 2006 at 10:35 am

an intrsting review..
thnx 4 sharing.

Leave a Reply

© nehabagoria.com