Swades

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Swades: We, the People
Swades movie poster.png
Directed by Ashutosh Gowariker
Produced by Ashutosh Gowariker
Ronnie Screwvala
Written by K. P. Saxena
(dialogue)
Screenplay by Ashutosh Gowariker
Sameer Sharma
Lalit Marathe
Amin Hajee
Charlotte Whitby-Coles
Yashodeep Nigudkar
Ayan Mukherjee
Story by Ashutosh Gowariker
M. G. Sathya
Starring Shah Rukh Khan
Gayatri Joshi
Kishori Balal
Music by A. R. Rahman
Cinematography Mahesh Aney
Edited by Ballu Saluja
Production
company
Distributed by UTV Motion Pictures
Release dates 17 December 2004
Running time 195 minutes
Country India
Language Hindi
Budget INR21 crore (US$3.4 million)[1]
Box office INR34.2 crore (US$5.6 million)[2][3]

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 it was a failure at the Indian box office, it was successful overseas and received critical acclaim and a cult following from Indian and other South Asian audiences around the world.[4][5] The film was featured on Rediff's list of the 10 Best Bollywood Films of the decade.[6] It was later dubbed and released in Tamil under the title Desam.[7]

Plot[edit]

Mohan Bhargava (Shah Rukh Khan) is a Non-Resident Indian working as a Project Manager at NASA. He had been a student at the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League school. After the death of his parents and 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. After visiting the Old-Age home where Kaveri Amma resided, he finds out through her friend, Kaveri Amma was taken to a village Charanpur. Along the way, he meets a number of interesting people; there is 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 is also a cook who harbors 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 develops a cat and mouse romance with his childhood acquaintance Gita (Gayatri Joshi), who actually brought Kaveri Amma from the Old-Age Home to be with her and her brother, Chiku. Gradually he also encounters some of harsher aspects of the village; among them are poverty, caste discrimination, child marriage, illiteracy, child labor, 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, who also 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 Gita's land. Along the way, Mohan realizes 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 is 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.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Motivation[edit]

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.[8][9][10] 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.[11]

Themes[edit]

Mahatma Gandhi's great-grandson, Tushar Gandhi noted the theme of Gandhism in the film.[12] 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:

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[edit]

Panorama of Menawali, the village in Maharashtra where Swades was shot

The role of Mohan was first offered to Hrithik Roshan who refused after reading the script.[13] Then Shahrukh Khan got this offer from Ashutosh Gowariker.

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.[14][15] The rainfall monitoring satellite known as the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) in the film is an actual NASA mission and was launched in 2014.[16][17][18]

Reception[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

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 8.5 out of 10 on the Internet Movie Database and listed in Top 250 ranking #239, and Khan's performance as Mohan Bhargava is considered one of his best by many.[6]

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. [19]

Box office[edit]

Swades grossed INR152.5 million (US$2.5 million) in India and was given the verdict of a flop.[2] 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.[20] Swades had a lifetime worldwide gross of INR342.6 million (US$5.6 million).

Swades was Shahrukh Khan's first flop after many years; in that year he had two other major hits—Main Hoon Na and Veer-Zaara.

Soundtrack[edit]

Swades
Soundtrack album by A.R.Rahman
Released 2004
Recorded Panchathan Record Inn
Genre Feature film soundtrack
Label T-Series
Producer A.R. Rahman
A.R.Rahman chronology
Dil Ne Jise Apna Kahaa
(2004)
Swades
(2004)
Kisna: The Warrior Poet
(2004)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Planet Bollywood 9/10 stars link

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.

No. Title Artist(s) Length
1. "Yeh Taara Woh Taara"   Udit Narayan, Master Vignesh, Baby Pooja 7:13
2. "Saanwariya Saanwariya"   Alka Yagnik 5:17
3. "Yun Hi Chala Chala"   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 T. Dhumal ( musician ), 4:00

Tamil Version[edit]

The Tamil soundtrack under the title Desam[21] was also composed by A.R. Rahman. Lyrics were written by Vairamuthu and Vaali.

Title Singer(s) Length
Thirukona Moolam S.P. Balasubrahmanyam, Master Vignesh, Baby Pooja 7:13
Kaaviriya Kaaviriya Madhushree, Alka Yagnik(Humming) 5:17
Unnai Kelai T.L. Maharajan, Hariharan 7:28
Kettenaa Naan Sukhwinder Singh, Sadhana Sargam 6:49
Unthan Desathin Kural A. R. Rahman 6:28
Mazhai Mega Vanna Chithra, Srinivas 6:50
Thai Sonna K.J. Yesudas, madhushree 5:46
Unthan Desathin Kural (Shehnai) Madhukar T. Dhumal ( musician ), 4:00

Awards[edit]

National Film Awards
Filmfare Awards
Global Indian Film Awards
Zee Cine Awards
Star Screen Awards
Stardust Awards
Bollywood Movie Awards
Film Café Awards
Rupa Cinegoers Awards for Jury Best Actor

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ http://ibosnetwork.com/asp/filmbodetails.asp?id=Swades
  2. ^ a b Archived October 14, 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20130926064255/http://www.boxofficeindia.com/showProd.php?itemCat=337&catName=TGlmZXRpbWUgSW4gSU5EIFJz
  4. ^ "Lost in Translation - Part 1/2". Filmfare. 8 September 2011. Retrieved 14 March 2012. 
  5. ^ Deepak Mahaan (4 August 2011). "Arts / Cinema : Intoxicated with second love!". The Hindu (Chennai, India). Retrieved 14 March 2012. 
  6. ^ a b Verma, Sukanya. "10 Best Bollywood Movies of the Decade". Rediff.com. Retrieved 27 June 2011. 
  7. ^ "Poll-2: Best Bollywood Movie of the Last Decade (2000-2009)". HindiFilmNews. 9 November 2011. Retrieved 13 March 2013. 
  8. ^ "The Real Swadesis: Aravinda and Ravi". NRIPULSE.COM. Retrieved 25 December 2007. 
  9. ^ "Bilgaon Village: From Darkness to Light". AID Austin. Retrieved 25 December 2007. 
  10. ^ "The Bilgaon model". FRONTLINE (THE HINDU). Retrieved 25 December 2007. 
  11. ^ Christopher, Kavvya (3 June 2005). "Something borrowed". The Times of India. Retrieved 29 August 2007. 
  12. ^ "'I'm pleased with Hirani's Gandhigiri,' says Gandhi's grandson". NowRunning.com. Retrieved 29 August 2007. 
  13. ^ "Ash, Hrithik ready to go back in time". The Times of India. 11 October 2006. Retrieved 28 July 2008. 
  14. ^ "Swades". BBC. 2004. Retrieved 29 August 2007. 
  15. ^ "Radio Sargam Interview: Shah Rukh Khan!". Radio Sargam. Retrieved 29 August 2007. 
  16. ^ "Lights, Camera, Liftoff!". NASA. Retrieved 29 August 2007. 
  17. ^ "Global Precipitation Measurement". NASA. Retrieved 28 July 2008. 
  18. ^ "GPM Launch Information". NASA. Retrieved 2014-02-19. 
  19. ^ "A film that dares". The Telegraph (Calcutta, India). 24 December 2004. 
  20. ^ http://www.boxofficeindia.com/showProd.php?itemCat=308&catName=TGlmZXRpbWU=
  21. ^ http://starmusiq.com/tamil_movie_songs_free_download.asp?MovieId=459
  22. ^ Suhasini, Lalitha (19 July 2005). "Destiny’s child". The Indian Express. Pune Newsline. Retrieved 25 April 2009. 
  23. ^ imbd, imbd (March 26, 2005). "zee cine 2005". Imdb. Pune Newsline. Retrieved 16 March 2014. 
  24. ^ "Film Cafe: Winners". BBC Radio. Retrieved 28 July 2008. 
  25. ^ "Awards". Bollyvista. Retrieved 28 July 2008. 

External links[edit]

Reviews[edit]