|Swades: We, the People|
|Directed by||Ashutosh Gowariker|
|Produced by||Ashutosh Gowariker
|Story by||M. G. Sathya|
|Starring||Shah Rukh Khan
|Music by||A. R. Rahman|
|Editing by||Ballu Saluja|
UTV Motion Pictures
|Release dates||17 December 2004|
|Running time||195 minutes|
|Box office||220 million (US$3.4 million)
Swades: We, the People (Hindi: स्वदेश, pronounced [sʋəˈd̪eːʃ], own country) is a 2004 Indian film written, produced and directed by Ashutosh Gowariker. The film stars Shah Rukh Khan and Gayatri Joshi in her first film. Although a failure at the Indian box office, it was successful overseas and received universal critical acclaim and a cult following from Indian and other South Asian audiences around the world. The film was featured on Rediff's list of the 10 Best Bollywood Movies of the Decade. In 2010 it was featured on HindiFilmNews's list of top 10 movies of the last decade poll. It was later dubbed into Tamil under the title Desam.
Mohan Bhargava (Shah Rukh Khan) is a Non-Resident Indian (NRI) working as a Project Manager at NASA. He had been a student at the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League school. After twelve years in the US, he decides to return to his village, in India to find his nanny, Kaveri Amma (Kishori Balal), with whom he has lost touch. Along the way, he meets a number of interesting people from the village called Charanpur where Kaveri Amma now lives; there's the village postmaster, eager to know more about e-mails and the Internet, while also having a keen hobby of wrestling; the ex-freedom fighter who teaches history at the local school and is a lone voice of reason amongst the village elders; there's also a cook who harbours ambitions of opening a dhaba on a US freeway, and sees in Mohan an opportunity to get a visa.
While Mohan soon adapts to life in the village and endears himself to its people, he also encounters some of its harsher aspects. Among them are poverty, caste discrimination, child marriage, illiteracy, child labour, a general disregard for education and an apathy to change. He tries in his own way to bring about some change, even succeeding to the point of dissuading the village elders from moving the local school to smaller and far-away premises. In doing this, he earns the respect of Gita (Gayatri Joshi), a childhood acquaintance who lives with Kaveri Amma and runs the local school.
One day Kaveri Amma sends him to a village called Kodi to collect dues from a farmer named Haridas who has rented their land. Along the way, Mohan realises that the problems he had seen in the village mirror those faced by almost all other villages in the country. Haridas, the farmer who owes rent, has no money to feed his own family, mainly because the villagers would not support his attempts at a change of occupation from weaving to farming. Mohan returns empty handed, but is full of a new sensitivity and perspective towards the harsh realities of rural India. This journey to Kodi and back proves to be the turning point in Mohan's life and he comes back with a resolve to improve the quality of life of the villagers.
He enlists the support of a few hundred men and guides them through the building of a reservoir beneath a perennial spring on a nearby hill. Buying turbines and other equipment with his own money, he sets up a small hydro-electric power plant that would solve the problem of irregular electricity and make the village self-sufficient.
By then, it's time for him to leave as his project at NASA is nearing its final stage. Kaveri Amma, whom he had intended to take along with him, refuses to come citing the difficulty of adapting to a new culture at such a late stage in her life. Gita, whom he had fallen in love with and who had fallen in love with him, also refuses to come with him, wanting to remain in the country and continue running the school that her parents had founded. He returns alone but feels a growing sense of responsibility towards his country and guilt for not being able to do much for the welfare of its people. He finishes his project at NASA before resigning and returning to India.
Swades is inspired by the story of Aravinda Pillalamarri and Ravi Kuchimanchi, the NRI couple who returned to India and developed the pedal power generator to light remote, off-the-grid village schools. Gowarikar spent considerable time with Aravinda and Ravi, both dedicated Association for India's Development (AID) volunteers. He supposedly visited Bilgaon, an Adivasi village in the Narmada valley, which is the backdrop of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) movement. The people of Bilgaon are credited with doing 200 person-days of shramdaan (community service) to make their village energy self-sufficient. The Bilgaon project is recognised as a model for replication by the government of Maharashtra. Shubham Gupta was also the character[who?] in that movie.[which?]
Many film critics familiar with South Indian cinema allege that Swades is a remake of the Kannada film Chigurida Kanasu, based on a novel of the same name by K. Shivaram Karanth, a playwright and Jnanpith Award recipient. This claim was repudiated by Swades writer M. G. Sathya who said that he had been working on the story since the 1980s. The rudimentary theme of the film, however, resembles the Kannada literary masterpiece.
Mahatma Gandhi's great-grandson, Tushar Gandhi noted the theme of Gandhism in the film. The name of the main character portrayed by Shahrukh Khan is Mohan, which was Mahatma Gandhi's birth name (Mohandas or "Mohan"). Swades opens with the following quotation from Gandhi:
|“||Hesitating to act because the whole vision might not be achieved, or because others do not yet share it, is an attitude that only hinders progress.||”|
Gowariker tries to address the lack of a scientific temperament and widespread ignorance among the rural folks through the energetic number "Ye Tara Wo Tara" where Mohan is seen encouraging the children to experience the fascinating world of stars through his telescope. In a symbolic manner, the song rejects the defunct divisions of casted and class and at the same time, through its protagonist, tries to instill in the audience an appreciation of curiosity and observation.
Casting and filming
Swades was the first Indian film to be shot inside the NASA research center at the Launch Pad 39A of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The rainfall monitoring satellite known as the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) in the film is an actual NASA mission and is scheduled to launch in 2013.
The film received overwhelmingly strong critical acclaim from critics. Most of the critics felt that Shahrukh Khan's performance in Swades was his best performance till date. Subhash K Jha of Indiatimes Movies gave 4.5 stars out of 5 and said "Swades is a unique experiment with grassroot realism. It is so politically correct in its propagandist message that initially you wonder if the government of India funded the director's dream."
Mayank Shekhar from MiD DAY gave 4 stars and called it 'bravo!' and added "I cannot think of a better film for the longest that deserved a stronger recommendation for both touring cinemas of India's villages, and plush multiplexes of Mumbai or Manhattan." Jitesh Pillai of the Sunday Times of India gave 4 stars and said "After Lagaan, what? The answer's blowing in the wind. Swades. Here's the verdict: This is a gusty and outstanding film. Welcome back to real, solid film-making." He added "Swades is undoubtedly the No 1 movie of the year." Shradha Sukumaran of Mid-Day gave 3.5 stars and said "At the end of it, Swades is a far braver film than Lagaan. It could have hit the high note — if it hadn't tried so hard."
Swades went on to become a cult classic and currently holds a rating of 8.3 out of 10 on the Internet Movie Database, and Khan's performance as Mohan Bhargava is considered one of his best by many.
Avijit Ghosh wrote in The Telegraph, Kolkata, "With its gentle humour, the film acts as an entertaining vehicle for social change. And hopefully, it will do more for positive nationalism than the Union government's Directorate of Audio Visual Publicity (DAVP) ads ever will. Few recent Bollywood films have songs so beautifully integrated with the script. If only debutante Gayatri Joshi could emote, many scenes could have had so much more spark. Acting out a village school teacher with a mind of her own needed a new millennium Nutan, not a pretty, slimline dummy. Swades is naive. But it is also decent, chaste and brave. Only the boldest of filmmakers can make a mainstream movie where the climax is not about saving the country from terrorists or uniting desperate lovers but getting electricity to a north Indian village. 
Swades netted Rs 15.25 crores lifetime in India and was given the verdict of a flop. Many attributed this to its competition with Veer-Zaara, another Shahrukh Khan film, which had released on Diwali only three weeks earlier and was still continuing to garner strong box office collections. However, in the overseas market Swades made $2,790,000 and was given the verdict of a semi-hit. Swades had a lifetime worldwide gross of Rs 34.26 crores.
|Soundtrack album by A.R.Rahman|
|Recorded||Panchathan Record Inn|
|Genre||Feature film soundtrack|
A. R. Rahman's soundtrack was acclaimed by critics and audiences. His background score won him the Filmfare award. However, he lost the Filmfare award for Best Music Director to Anu Malik. It remains the only time he has been nominated for the award and not won. Udit Narayan won the National Film Award for Best Male Playback Singer for the track "Yeh Tara Woh Tara". All lyrics written by Javed Akhtar, all music composed by A. R. Rahman.
|1.||"Yeh Tara Woh Tara"||Udit Narayan, Master Vignesh, Baby Pooja||7:13|
|2.||"Saanwariya Saanwariya"||Alka Yagnik||5:17|
|3.||"Yun Hi Chala Chal"||Udit Narayan, Kailash Kher, Hariharan||7:28|
|4.||"Aahista Aahista"||Udit Narayan, Sadhana Sargam||6:49|
|5.||"Yeh Jo Des Hai Tera"||A. R. Rahman||6:28|
|6.||"Pal Pal Hai Bhaari"||Madhushree, Vijay Prakash||6:50|
|7.||"Dekho Na"||Alka Yagnik, Udit Narayan||5:46|
|8.||"Pal Pal Hai Bhaari" (Flute)||Naveen||3:38|
|9.||"Yeh Jo Des Hai Tera" (Shehnai)||Madhukar Dhumal||4:00|
|Thirukona Moolam||S.P. Balasubrahmanyam, Laaramani||7:13|
|Unnai Kelai||T.L. Maharajan, Hariharan||7:28|
|Kettenaa Naan||Aslam, Sadhana Sargam||6:49|
|Unthan Desathin Kural||A. R. Rahman||6:28|
|Mazhai Mega Vanna||Chithra, Srinivas||6:50|
|Thai Sonna||K.J. Yesudas||5:46|
|Unthan Desathin Kural (Shehnai)||Madhukar Dhumal||4:00|
- Best Debut Female - Gayatri Joshi
- Film Café Awards
- Rupa Cinegoers Awards for Jury Best Actor
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