Swades is about an India most of us dont know and probably dont want to know. It is an India around us that is very different from us. We cannot get away from it. It stares at us in the form of children begging outside our cars closed window and us wishing that theyd just go away. It is an India that sits in between all those fancy high-rises and malls that are coming up we wonder if these eyesores could be erased. It is an India that we encounter occasionally as we take trips to ancestral hometowns and leave thinking how time has, for the most part, stood still. Even as Swades is about rural India, we cannot escape the symptoms in the slums of urban India. It is as much about the India we did not build after Independence poverty, overpopulation, illiteracy, malnutrition, darkness still reign across parts of India.
Swades is also a film about hope. It is about the difference that each of us can make in this other India. What this India lacks is vision, will and co-ordination. People there have for the most part accepted that things will be the way they are. The British may have left more than half a century ago, but large parts of India are still in a subjugation mindset some of it forced by circumstances, some of it accepted due to ignorance. One of us can transform the lives of a thousand. If Lagaan was about how a Bhuvan can bring about change from within, Swades is about how a Mohan Bhargava can bring about change from the outside freed from the shackles of the past of tradition and culture.
Each of us has to do what we are best at and at the time of our chosing. This change in us has to come from within. Some of us may accomplish this by being entrepreneurs, some by being engineers or doctors to bring about innovations that can make a difference, some by adopting schools or orphanages in this other India, and some by contributing financially. Swades is not about dramatic top-down change, it is about slow bottom-up transformation. It is about many micro-revolutions which need to take place all around.
Swades reminds us that even as one India grows, there is another India thats still far behind. And whether we like it or not, the land that both occupy is the same. One India cannot go too far leaving the other behind. We are one nation of a billion people. We are all part of one India. What the more fortunate among us have to do is to provide the leadership that can help bring about change in the other India. As we think about the problems of the other India, there are solutions that exist. But for making these real, we will have to leave aside some of our old mindsets.
Atanu Dey captures the essence of this one world: With maturity comes the realization that one is not just an Indian, or an Indian with a bit of American thrown in, but that one is a member of the extended human familySome of us have more money, or are more educated, or have different pigmentation. But seen from a sufficiently far remove, we are fairly indistinguishable. We have the same hopes and aspirations, fears and longings, desires and dreams. Our station in life is dictated by a random draw that was made by forces beyond our imagination even, leave alone our control.
Each of us (as the movies byline puts it we, the people), wherever we are, needs to make a commitment in our lifetime to bring about positive change in the land of our birth, one that was once great. We have the potential to make it great again. But for that, each of us has to discover a Mohan Bhargava and Ashutosh Gowariker in us to make a difference and go, light our bulbs. Swades beckons!
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