First, the movies story. This is what the films official website has to say:
Set in modern day India, Swades is a film that tackles the issues that development throws up on a grass root level. It is to this India, which is colorful, heterogeneous and complex that Mohan Bhargava (Shah Rukh Khan), a bright young scientist working as a project manager in NASA, returns to on a quest to find his childhood nanny.
The film uses the contrast between the highly developed world of NASA, which has been at the forefront of advances in space research, and this world back home in India, which is at the crossroads of development. Mohan’s simple quest becomes the journey that every one of us goes through in search of that metaphysical and elusive place called “home”.
Jitesh Pillai writes in The Times of India:
Right away, you’re drawn into the life of Mohan Bharghava (Shah Rukh Khan), a project manager at NASA. He’s busy devising strategies to help make the world a better place. Mohan works on a rainfall monitoring satellite which is lifted into orbit. But in the throes of launching a brand new satellite, other pangs gnaw at him. He wants to visit India which he hasn’t visited in ten years, to meet Kaveri-amma (Kishori Balal), his childhood nanny and surrogate mother. When he returns to the village called Charanpur, it is more than just a return to his roots. Much to his chagrin, while the world is making rapid strides to the moon, Charanpur doesn’t have electricity and is plagued with the ills of casteism, a moth-eaten morality and an abject lack of basic amenities. Here he encounters the idealistic Geeta (Gayatri Joshi), who practices what she preaches but is a tad too upright for the easygoing NASA scientist.
Mohan’s journey through the countryside is a metaphor for his own inward voyage. Slowly but surely he becomes a convert. And then comes the moment of epiphany. His idyll is shattered when he sees a child sell a glass of water for 25 paise. Back in Charanpur, Mohan rallies the villagers and harnesses a water reservoir and restores electricity to the hinterland.
Duty calls and Mohan returns to America with a heavy heart. But his country beckons again. Does Mohan Bhargava listen to the pull of his purse-strings or does he march to a different drummer’s beat? Thank God, Swades is not Lagaan. Lagaan was winning against all odds, about good triumphing over evil. Swades is a farewell to materialism. It’s about creating a better life. It’s about the choices we make.
Tomorrow: Directors Cut
TECH TALK On Watching Swades+T