Udaan: Troubled Teen's Write Flight!
By MovieTalkies.com, 17 July 2010
It's not often that one comes across a debutant filmmaker who manages to create such an impact with his very first film. But there is something else about Vikramaditya Motwane and his 'Udaan'. The film, true to its name, actually takes flight from the first sequence onwards.
There haven't been too many films coming out of Bollywood which deal with the angst of growing up as poignantly as Motwane has done in his movie. Sure, we have had coming of age films like the 'Dil Chahta Hai's and the 'Wake Up Sid's, all great movies, but 'Udaan' is really grounded in reality and is bound to strike a chord somewhere with most adults and adolescents alike.
It is sensitive, disturbing and all too real. This is not about some rich, over indulged big city kid, but a story set in the sleepy town of Jamshedspur, where life is lived by certain different kind of rules. Motwane takes a simple story, uses a simple treatment and makes a wonderful film.
Add to that, producer Anurag Kashyap's inputs in the writing department, and the result is out there for all to see. The storyline is really simple—the film deals with the despair of a teenager who finds himself yoked to a tyrannical father who rides roughshod on his dreams, and is about how he finally manages to break free from it all.
The greatest strength of the movie, despite its rough ends, is its lack of artifice and the director's unrelenting pursuit of his story without taking recourse to any kind of escapism in order to make the bitter pill more palatable.
The film begins with the protagonist, the young Rohan (Rajat Barmecha) and his three friends from a boarding school in Shimla, escaping the hostel and catching a soft porn film at a nearby theatre in the night.
Not happy with just watching the movie, they also decide to heckle a couple sitting nearby before realising that the man is their warden. They escape from the theatre that night but are made to pay a hefty price for their misdemenours. As this is not their first instance of flirting with trouble, all four are expelled.
Rohan finds himself heading back to Jamshedpur after a gap of some eight odd years, in which time he has never seem his father (Ronit Roy). At his father's house he meets the young Arjun (Aayan Boradia), his step brother, whom he has never seen before.
His father has no qualms in telling him that he married a second time and his wife left him. The father is tyrannical and controlling and the atmosphere in the house is stifling and tense to say the least.
The two boys address the father as 'Sir' and there is clearly no love lost between the trio. If matters were not tough enough, Rohan is forced to work in his father's steel plant and study engineering, both against his will. It is a constant struggle for him to keep alive his dream of becoming a writer in the dreary and hopeless circumstances that he finds himself in.
If by day, he is the obedient son, at night the rebel in him surfaces! And he takes to stealing his father's money, car and drinking with his new found friends. The atmosphere at home continues to get even more stifling with the father resorting to violence, as well. It all is too much for Rohan to take, till one day he finally manages to break free from the shackles of his father.
The film is a true and honest take on life in small towns where it is so much more difficult to break free and follow your dreams. 'Udaan' truly captures the heavy atmosphere of unhappiness and unfulfilled desires that weigh heavy on all the characters in the movie, including the abusive father, fighting his own demons, as well as Rohan. It is so much more difficult to break out of the system here than elsewhere and Rohan finally does take that flight to freedom.
The performances are quite brilliant, beginning from Ronit as the father, and going down to Aayan as Arjun. Ronit really brings alive the character of the controlling, abusive father, who is repulsive and yet at the same time manages to evoke pity.
The honours, however, are shared by the two child actors, Barmecha and Aayan. Barmecha gets a role of lifetime and he really sinks his teeth into it. He manages to bring out the anger as well as the vulnerability of a teenager superbly. It helps that his role is so well etched by the writers (Motwane and Kashyap).
The scenes where Rohan manages to keep his despair at bay… by writing poetry, are quite superb. His pain is almost palpable. Aayan, as the young Arjun really springs a surprise with his vulnerable performance. Even Ram Kapoor, who has a small role, manages to make a solid impression with a subtle performance.
The film has been beautifully captured on screen by the camera work of Mahendra Shetty. 'Udaan' may seem a little slow in places by conventional standards as there are long pieces of silence where the visuals speak for themselves. But this is a movie which grips one from the first frame onwards.
Its appeal is universal as there is a bit of Rohan in most of us; some of who may have been lucky to break free. 'Udaan' is as much a film for those who managed to break free and took the 'Udaan,' as well as for those who could not. Vikramaditya Motwane is to be lauded for making such an honest and heartfelt film.