Be the change you want to see in the world – the message of ?€˜Rang De Basanti?€™ (Paint ?€˜it?€™ Yellow)

After hearing and reading great reviews about it, Archana and I decided to steal time to watch ‘Rang De Basanti’ yesterday. The movie is unlike any other movie I’ve seen so far – I’m sure it will be counted among the landmark movies. Rang De Basanti The performances, one-liners, characters, the artistic feel were all excellent. The lines were real and funny: "yaar mera haath dekh kar bata line kaisi hai"…"teri love line hai hi nahin…lagta hai bachpan mein chooran ke saath chat ke khaa gaya" "Ik pair future mein te ik pair past mein rakh ke aaj par moot rahe" (With one leg in the past and the other in the future we are peeing on the present) Reminded me of the funny lines in the 1997 Jack Nicholson movie, "As Good as it Gets". But above all, its the message of the movie which has perhaps made the most impact in the minds of those who have watched it. Felt my eyes swell up with tears as Atul Kulkarni recited Ram Prasad Bismil’s lines:

Sar faroshi ki tamanna ab hamaare dil mein hai, Dekhna hai zor kitna baazoo-e-qaatil main hai! Rahrav-e-raah-e-mohabbat reh na jaana raah mein, Lazzat-e-sahraa nawardi doori-e-manzil mein hai. Yoon khada maqtal mein qaatil keh raha hai baar baar, Kya tamanna-e-shahaadat bhi kisi ke dil mein hai Waqt aane par bataa dengey tujhe ai aasmaan, Hum abhi se kya bataayein kya hamaarey dil mein hai. Ae shaheed-e-mulk-o-millat terey jazbon par nissar, Teri qurbaani ka charcha ghair ki mehfil mein hai. Kheench kar laai hai sabko qatla hone ki ummeed, Aashiqon ka aaj jamghat kooncha-e-qaatil mein hai. Ek se karta nahin koi doosra koi bhi baat, Dekhta hoon main jise woh chup teri mehfil mein hai. [We are now raring to die for our country’s sake Let’s see how much of strength the assassin can display! O traveller on the path of love, do not drop mid-way, It is the distance of the goal that glorifies the chase. Standing by the gallows the hangman makes a call, Come, if there be any, by the martyr’s zeal enthralled. We’ll tell you all, O sky, wait till the time arrives, How can we at this stage, our secret plans unveil? O martyrs in the nation’s cause, kudos to your sacrifice. Even in the enemy camp they talk of you with praise. Fired by patriotic fervour, many a maddened youth Has gathered at the crossing, itching for the cross. Why are they mute and silent? no whisper, no talk, Everyone that I see has got his lips locked.]

I loved the movie throughout – there wasn’t a moment of time to think while watching the movie…but the after effect left me with a strange feeling. While ‘Dil Chahta hai’ and ‘Swades’ wowed me and filled me with joy, the feeling after ‘Rang de Basanti’ was strange. Yet it was as great a movie, if not greater. I was reminded of the line in Rajkumar Santoshi’s ‘The Legend of Bhagat Singh’ when there was an attempt at mocking Gandhi for not doing enough to save Bhagat Singh, when Naseeruddin Shah (portrayed as Gandhi) says, "Par mein hinsa ka saath nahin de sakta" (I can’t support violence). I felt myself repeating the same words at the end of the movie. The movie certainly got me thinking. And as you think, it sinks deeper into you. At the end of it, I concluded that the message of Swades (Gandhi) and Rang De Basanti (Bhagat Singh) was one and the most important to take home: "You must be the change you want to see in the world" (as said by Mahatma Gandhi). Rang De Basanti, in reality, does not advocate the method, but rather the courage to take on the responsibility for bringing about change. Read these lines by Michael Angier in Top Ten Things to Think About If You Want to Change the World: "The following is inscribed on the tomb of an Anglican Bishop in Westminster Abby (1100 A.D.):

When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world. As I grew older and wiser, I discovered the world would not change, so I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country. But it, too, seemed immovable. As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it. And now, as I lie on my deathbed, I suddenly realize: If I had only changed myself first, then by example I would have changed my family. From their inspiration and encouragement, I would then have been able to better my country, and who knows, I may have even changed the world."

I’ve written about the one spark needed to light your inner fire. Go watch ‘Rang de Basanti’. Who knows, it might just be the spark for you!

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