Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Udaan - A movie review

Historically, Hindi movies have mostly either oversimplified the complex pangs of adolescence by either peppering it with abundant sexual innuendos or by packaging it as an 'out and out' love story with goons, fights, screams and oh yes – songs. Every decade has its share of such tales that are carefully choreographed to capture, what the makers are convinced, the right vein with today's Indian youth. With time, hence, such movies have either become 'Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na...' or 'Rockford'. Two extreme categories with its own audience lapping up whatever appeals to them.

With such a preface to this midway cinema, as it were, I began watching Anurag Kashyap's productorial[sic] debut – Udaan. Considering I am a huge AK aficionado (Black Friday, Paanch, Dev D, Gulaal) I had managed to carefully avoid reading any reviews that might influence my viewpoint before I got a chance to see the flick. Given the fact that anyone and his uncle who has access to the Internet is a reviewer these days (present company included), the best way to judge a movie, as I have experienced, is to just watch it. And watch Udaan, I did.

One of the first things I noticed in Udaan was the minimalistic use of the background score. Nothing kills a movie more quickly than an ill timed piece of audio during a scene that is designed to be sensitive. Also, Udaan is almost entirely shot using a hand held camera (not the offbeat YouTube/LSD style though) sans the 'Bourne vibration'. A blessing indeed. Every expression – silence, melancholy, regret and rage – is captured at the right distance and in the right shade. When narrating a tale of a boy's coming of age, I think these two paramaters – distance and color – plays an extremely critical role. Too much or too less of it, of course, will kill the narrative instantly. Udaan scored big points in this department right from the get go.

The second thing I found endearing in the movie was the obvious lack of B-City's prescribed emotions. Despite the rage that is bubbling inside the teen protagonist (etched into justice by Rajat Barmecha) the restraint he offers consistently almost confused me into questioning myself - 'Wait...why is he behaving like I would? Isn't this supposed to be a movie?' This is a reaction I have rarely found myself expressing during a Hindi movie. Notwithstanding the shades of an 'American Beauty' like relationship the male protagonist and his father share, the context in which the tale unfolds is very authentic. A small city single parent who has no patience or comprehension of love wants to bend his free spirited son to his will. An extremely relatable scenario in middle class India. Udaan cuts through the cow manure of over the top emotional frenzy and keeps it simple. It is in such echoing moments of naked reality, that it finds apt redemption. The characters speak volumes by just a casual glance here, a friendly pat on the shoulder there. A subtle smile here, an abrupt pause there. An art form that hasn't found complete mastery in our cinemas but has some brilliant examples dotted along its century old time line. Udaan proudly joins the ranks of such a genre where despite the look and feel of something supposedly 'filmy', the treatment it eventually gets makes it shed all the fake skins until the bones are exposed.

What also makes Udaan work the best – apart from the points above – is the transition the protagonist makes from being a wayward son to a responsible parent figure. A transformation that goes through a natural metamorphosis without the contrived instances of the illogical that burns, distills and clarifies his soul through a series of fortunate and not so fortunate events. What makes it even more appealing is the liberal use of some fine and well placed poetry to drive home the point. If I'd recommend Udaan for something, it would be to experience this mode of story telling that is such a critical need of the hour.

My regards to the team of Udaan for maintaining the tradition of serving us some bitter yet refreshing lime in a market that is so eager to cater to us the deep fried yet nauseating clichés. Looking forward to the next serving.

3 reflections:

Nona said...

Thanks for the review! I still have not watched it. I have been hearing good things about the movie.

ShaK said...


Yes. Please do watch it. Its DEFINITELY a better watch than 'Dabangg'.


TL said...

awesome movie..good review