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Udaan – The Bollywood New Wave takes off

A Flight of Fancy

by Jyotirmoy Das Gupta

The flight takes off.

TLR Rating: 8 Reels.

The Premise

Almost every notable movie comes with a message. But it is a very rare specimen that changes a thought. ‘Udaan’ conveys a feel that “Life is a flight which one should never miss”. Education is an important aspect of life. It directly defines the way you think, grow and survive in this materialistic world of ours. But what happens when this entity is forced on you against your will? The inherent uniqueness makes you what you are. But if you are forced to do something out of your bounds, it makes you reluctant. And it makes you feel exiled. ‘Udaan’ is the story of the same exile and teaches you the way to escape from it.

On the road to freedom, hand in hand.

The Theme

Udaan’ explores the parent-child relationship in the Indian society, highlighting the cruelty and non-acceptance. Misguided and misinformed, the parents often try to curb a child’s aspirations and tend to lure them down the ‘acceptable’ path. Happiness is secondary for them as they want their children to lead a ‘safe’ and ‘secure’ life. From their point of view, they may be right. But they are oblivious to the child’s pain. ‘Udaan’ is a fictional true story. Depression and melancholia often take over in the child’s life, driving them to end their lives or go into seclusion. Vikramaditya Motwane tries his best to take off the blindfolds.

Thoughts amidst chaos.

The Plot

Udaan’ is the story of a 17-year-old son expelled from school and his stern, abusive and alcoholic father. The flight of fancy is embedded deep in the soul of Rohan, an aspiring writer. The film starts at a boarding School in the beautiful suburbs of Shimla where Rohan has been studying from childhood after his mother’s death. A downfall comes in Rohan’s life when he and his three friends are caught bunking from hostel to watching an adult film and are expelled from school. His life takes another turn after returning to his father, Bhairav Singh in Jamshedpur. Rohan has to face the fact that his father had remarried and had a son, Arjun.

The father-son ideological battle ascends to several higher levels. His uncle, Jimmy proves to be his angel, who grants him the wings to fly. Rohan has a choice – submit to his father or fight him and take-off into the land of his dreams.

The symbol of innocence and oppression, Arjun.

The Characters

Vikramaditya Motwane is an exceptional writer and films like ‘Dev-D’ bears marks of his genius. Rohan represents the dreams which we all have. Every individual is born with a special skill. The courage to harness it is rare though. Grit, determination and passion are all that is needed to break free from the shackles of oppression and soar into the blue sky. Rohan is battered and bruised. But he has the will to push on.

Bhairav Singh happens to be a stern, routine oriented and proud individual. All these attributes come to light when Rohan jogs with him in the famous Jubilee Park and other important places in Jamshedpur. In the end he races with Rohan and beats him. He is the personification of society’s shackles which prevents creativity from maturing. The lack of empathy and unwillingness to understand anything new drives these individuals. Bhairav is arrogant and refuses to accept anything outside his code of conduct. His ego prevents him from accepting his son’s individuality. He confuses respect with fear, like many. Cruelty is discipline for him, and he can go to any lengths to make his word count.

Jimmy is the guardian angel in Rohan’s life. He is a friend, philosopher and guide. Despite his brother’s berating, Jimmy helps Rohan discover his true passion and encourages him down the path of happiness.

Little Arjun symbolizes innocence. That integral part of our childhood has been squashed by the challenges life throws at us. His father’s physical torture breaks him to the core. And like many of us, he endures it silently.

Ek Udaan hi sapno ko degi zindagi, sapno se jod do ise

The Direction

Although ‘Udaan’ lacks big names and a hefty budget, it is surely one of the most innovative and motivational movies made in Indian Cinema. The slow unfolding of the story, an actual touch of life showing its highs and lows and the belief of hope makes it different. The poetic narrative enriches the plotline. In the scene in Shimla where Rohan narrates his poem to Maninder in the morning mist of Shimla or the one where Rohan makes an old patient jump out of his bed in the excitement to know what happened next are surreal moments.

Ronit Roy, the face of ‘saas-bahu’ soaps, is the new menace in town.

The Performance

The relatively unknown cast packed quite a punch in ‘Udaan‘. Fresh face Rajat Barmecha as the protagonist was soulful and determined.

Ronit Roy, a small screen veteran, showed his true prowess as the father-dictator, Bhairav Singh. He was powerful, menacing and downright cruel. The perpetual rage and arrogance made him a scary figure. He is the new ‘alcoholic father ‘ in B-town. His contemporary, Ram Kapoor, excelled as Jimmy. The calm friendly nature was exhibited naturally.

The Influence

These characteristics of ‘Udaan’ not only influenced the thought of its audience, but also the Bollywood industry. Before this, Bollywood mainly concentrated on mindless commercial films featuring big stars which earned a lot of cash. Seeing a 5 crore movie claim 30 plus crore in the box office, the filmmakers were worked to rethink their strategy. The realization that innovative films could do well in industry at low budgets crept in slowly. They gave up their apprehension to cast fresh faces and try new scripts. Films like ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’, ‘Paan Singh Tomar’, ‘Kahaani’ and ‘Dhobi Ghat’ are a few to have benefited from this new wave. Also it paved the entry of new talents in the industry. Surpassing the ‘traditional’ stars was much needed. Brilliant actors like Nawazuddin Siddique, who were struggling to get into the circuit found a platform to display their talent.

Following the distant footsteps.

The Reality

Still the Indian audience seldom applauds these new-concept movies. The majority is more star oriented. A SRK idiocy draws a mammoth crowd while a work of art is left with a fringe audience. I sincerely appeal to the audience to watch these innovative films. These movies, apart from teaching a lesson in life, also raise the bar of Bollywood and India in the international platform. So next time don’t miss the flight 😉.

The author is a pass out of instrumentation engineering. He has a keen interest graphics design, writing, photography, sports, robotics and coding methods.

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