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Between the Reel and Real

Ritika Pant

By Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra , Kamlesh Pandey and Rensil D’Silva
Om International Books, Noida, 2014, pp. 241, Rs. 495.00


Rang De Basanti (Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, 2006) is a film that unfolds itself through a narrative-within-a-narrative structure where the India of 1920s is juxtaposed with the India of 2005. The film’s narrative draws strong parallel associations between the Indian freedom fighters of the pre-Independence era and the angered youth of the contemporary times who are upset with the current socio-political conditions in the country and thus, disseminates messages of social awakening amongst the youth. With an ensemble cast of veteran actors like Amir Khan, R. Madhavan, Soha Ali Khan and Sharman Joshi, the film was a box-office superhit.  After the completion of eight years of the success of Rang De Basanti (hereafter RDB), film-director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra along with story-and-script writer Kamlesh Pandey and screenplay-cum-dialogue writer Rensil D’Silva endeavours to recapture the RDB effect by providing it a textual dimension in the form of a book that he titles Rang De Basanti: A Generation Awakens—The Shooting Script . Since the film’s narrative centralizes on the death of a pilot, Ajay Rathode (played by R.Madhavan) whose MiG fighter plane crashes while he is on board, Mehra’s book is an ode to the hundreds of airborne warriors who have lost their lives for the country. The book constructs an interesting text by comprehensively integrating both on-screen and off-screen information associated with the film. As the book quotes, RDB was ‘a movie that became a movement’, the film had a strong and impactful afterlife that empowered and inspired the Indian youth in numerous ways. The fact that the shooting script of the film is released as a book after an interval of eight years is a testimony to the success of the blockbuster that RDB was and the socio-political consciousness that it ignited amongst the youth of the country.  The foreword of the book compiles contributions from the film’s director Rakeysh Om Prakash Mehra, Kamlesh Pandey and Rensil D’Silva. It offers a brief but fascinating insight into how Mehra conceived the idea for RDB almost ten years prior to the film’s release, how the initial title of the film ‘The Young Guns of India’ was transformed into ‘Rang De Basanti’ and his association with other crew members including the music director A.R. Rahman and actor Amir Khan. With a prior experience in the advertising industry, both Mehra and D’Silva were novice film-makers who set new ...

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