After winning both national and international acclaim for his path-breaking Oscar nominated film Lagaan, director Ashutosh Gowariker has the guts to choose another subject, which not many have dared to attempt. Swades starring Bollywood baadshah Shahrukh Khan in the lead role is based on the theme of patriotism without the current trend of getting jingoistic. It's a sensible thought-provoking film about an intelligent Indian who leaves his country for a better life abroad but later rediscovers his roots and turns back.
Set in modern day India, Swades is a film that tackles the issue facing the citizens of this nation at grass root level. The India of Swades is colorful, heterogeneous and complex, and it is to this environment that Mohan Bhargava (Shahrukh Khan), a bright young scientist working as project manager in NASA, returns to, on a quest to find his childhood nanny. What begins as a simple mission prompted by nostalgia and affection turns into a journey to the heartland of rural India, both literally and metaphorically.
Mohan finds his nanny, Kaveriamma (Kishori Ballal), the symbol to him of motherhood and family, in a village called Charanpur with an admirable young woman Gita (Gayatri Joshi) and her younger brother Chikku (Master Smit Sheth). Old-age caste system dictates profession and status in this village peopled with variety of life. Mohan begins to interact with the Panchayat, the body of local self-governance, which has at the helm, the dogmatic but the just village chief and others like the outspoken friend of Kaveriamma, Fatimabi (Farrukh Jaffar).
Along the way he encounters the quirky but endearing Mela Ram (Dayashankar Pandey), an aspirant of the restaurant business who sees Mohan as his ticket to the chain of restaurants he will start on the American freeways. Mohan befriends the local postmaster Nivaran (Rajesh Vivek), stuck to his old-fashioned ways, and the village children, whose future is inextricably linked with that of the country.
Soon, Mohan finally realizes that it is his scientific temperament as well as his understanding of societal complexities that can drive the villagers to participate in a movement to better their lives.
The film uses the contrast between the highly developed world of NASA, which has been in 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 everyone of us goes through in search of that metaphysical and elusive place called home.
The NASA Connection
Swades happens to be the first Indian film to be actually shot inside the NASA research center at the Launch Pad 39A of the Kennedy Space Center of NASA in Florida. To add to the authenticity of his film, Gowariker actually wanted to shoot the scene in the NASA space center rather than on any Film-city Set. Shahrukh works on a rainfall monitoring satellite known as the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) in the film, which is lifted into an orbit aboard a Space Shuttle. (GPM is an actual NASA mission, currently scheduled to launch in 2007).
Shahrukh - the actor
This film shows Shahrukh in a completely different light from his regular image of the mushy romantic Bollywood icon. As the director once stated that Swades shows 'Shahrukh - the actor' and not 'Shahrukh - the star'.
Supporting Cast and Crew
The supporting cast of the film comprises of considerably new names like Raja Awasthi, Vishwas Badola, Rajesh Balwani, Vishnudatt Gaur, Bachan Pachehra, Smit Sheth, Lekh Tandon, Bhim Vakani, Rahul Vohra and Makrand Deshpande.
Music maestro A.R.Rehman has composed tunes for the film that is already making waves at the countdown charts. Javed Akhtar has penned the lyrics.