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Swades (2004) - Shahrukh Khan, Gayatri Joshi, Raja Awasthi, Vishwa S. Badola, Kishori Balal, Rajesh Balwani, Makrand





















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Rating: 2.8/5 (33 votes cast)

Author:
lemonette59
Description:

Swades, literally Homeland, is a 2004 Indian film written, produced and directed by Ashutosh Gowariker. This Bollywood film stars Shah Rukh Khan and film newcomer Gayatri Joshi. Music is by A. R. Rahman, lyrics by Javed Akhtar and costume design by Bhanu Athaiya.

Mohan Bhargava (Shah Rukh Khan) is the Project Manager for NASA's Global Precipiation Measurement Satellite Project at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and a Non-Resident Indian or NRI. On the anniversary of his parents' death, he decides to take a small vacation to go visit his home nation, India, and visit his childhood amah, Kaveriamma (Kishori Ballal) and perhaps bring her to the United States to live with him. Upon reaching India, he visits an ashram to look for Kaveriamma but discovers that she was taken to a village called Charanpur by a young woman.

He meets a young woman (Gayatri Joshi) in a bookstore who gives him directions to Charanpur. After arriving he finds Kaveriamma, and discovers that the woman in the bookstore is his childhood friend, Gita, who took Kaveriamma to the village. Gita is a teacher in the local school and lives in the village with her younger brother and Kaveriamma. Mohan soon takes to the little village and its people, but during his stay, also witnesses discrimination based on caste, profession, and gender. He tries to convince people in the village to allow the low-caste boys and girls to finish their education. After initial reluctance, all villagers agree.

The film progresses to show how Mohan endears himself to the local people. However, one night, Gita confronts him and accuses him of coming to Charanpur only to take away Kaveriamma from her, so that he could have someone to cook and clean for him back home in the United States. Mohan denies the latter, and says that he wants to take Kaveriamma to the US so that she could live a comfortable life.

Kaveriamma overhears this conversation between Mohan and Gita, and decides to let Mohan know of the ground realities in his homeland. He is sent on a trip by Kaveriamma to visit a farmer in a faraway village who is living on a property owned by Gita and has not paid the rent. Upon reaching his home, Mohan discovers that the farmer was once a weaver who, due to unfavourable conditions, decided to give up his profession and become a farmer. This decision was rejected by the village elders who did not believe a weaver should change his profession. He soon fell onto hard times, complicated by the fact that he was denied water to irrigate his crops by the other villagers during the drought period and was generally shunned. Mohan takes a look at the emaciated man, his equally miserable family and his pitiable condition and cannot bring himself to ask for the rent. Instead, he himself gives the man some money, and leaves the place with considerable sorrow in his heart.

Mohan is enormously disturbed by this visit and decides to become more deeply involved in helping those around him. In a get-together at the local school, the village elders ask Mohan about America, its technological advancements and its society. In the course of the conversation, one of the elders says that whatever be the nature of America and its progress, India has its history and its culture that is far superior to anything in the world. This riles Mohan, who asks the villagers about how long they were going to harp about past laurels and ignore the realities of present. He tries to shake the village folk out of their stupor by telling them that they have been accepting their socio-economic status quo for far too long, and that it's time to make a change. The elders, taken aback at his sudden hostility, argue with him, but Mohan simply says that all he knows is that a poor man somewhere is starving because a caste-ridden society won't allow him to change his profession.

At a night of celebration during Ram leela (a festival that marks the return of Lord Ram from exile), the electricity goes out in the village, as usual. The village people think nothing of it, but Mohan is disgusted with their attitude. He comes up to them and asks the sarpanch to give him a hundred men. When asked why, he says that there's a perennial spring on the hill near the village, and that he wants to utilize the spring to generate electricity, thus making the village self-sufficient. He plans to build a reservoir to collect the water and bring it downhill via pipes to a turbine, which would then generate electricity.

The village elders grant his request and Mohan begins working, continuing his NASA project side-by-side. The film shows the progress of both of Mohan's projects intertwined with his growing feelings for Gita, which she reciprocates.

Finally, the big day arrives and the entire village gathers around to see the fruits of their labour. Mohan asks his assistant to open the valve, and water starts to impinge onto the turbine rotors. As the voltmeter approaches 230V (Standard AC voltage in India is 230V), people wait with bated breath. But inexplicably, after 210V, the voltage starts going down and the turbine starts slowing, much to the disappointment of everyone. Mohan runs up to the reservoir to see if all valves are properly open. After seeing that they are, he removes his shirt and jumps into the reservoir, and comes out with a lump of weeds that were blocking the entrance to the outgoing pipe. With the obstruction out of its way, water again starts flowing freely in the pipe, and the turbine whirrs faster and faster. Again, everyone watches, and this time, the voltmeter hits 230V, making the lightbulb that has been placed in a hut at the bottom of the hill glow, much to the joy of the old lady in the hut, as well as every villager present.

However, their joy is short-lived because Mohan announces that he has to go back to America. Kaveriamma declines to go with him (an eventuality that Mohan has guessed by now). The most hurt by his decision is Gita, who too refuses to move to America. Oh his last day, everyone bids him a tearful adieu except Gita, who's not present. She is waiting for him some distance away from the village. She breaks down and gives him a small gift to remember his village and his country by. They share an emotional goodbye and Mohan leaves in his RV to Delhi and from then onto the US.

In the US, his NASA project manager and colleagues are waiting for him to come back and take over the project (the Global Precipitation Measurement satellite). The film then shows Mohan's NASA project progressing rapidly, but interspersed within the NASA scenes are flashbacks of his stay in India, that he cannot seem to forget. He gets more pensive by the day and any reference to India seems to make him nostalgic. Visions of Gita, Kaveriamma, the village and its people haunt him constantly. He confides in his friend/colleague that he is thinking of going back to India but his friend thinks that he's nuts. Finally, Mohan's project is completed and his satellite gets launched. Immediately afterward, he tenders his resignation, much to the dismay of his friend and boss, but looking at his resolve in the end, his boss tells him, "Alright Mohan, go light your bulb".

From here is the final scene wherein Mohan has been shown back in his village (without any connecting storyline in between). He is shown playing a friendly wrestling bout with the local postmaster (who wrestles as a hobby), and the film ends with a happy Mohan surrounded by his loved ones, glad to be back where he belongs.

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