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 badshah Shahrukh Khan in the lead role is based on the theme of patriotism without the current trend of getting jingoistic. The film conveys its central theme powerfully i.e. the power of an individual to make a difference to his context if he chooses to.
And though this may sound very clichÃ©d in Bollywood language but those who have seen flashes of the film are of the opinion that this is a genuinely different, powerful and interesting movie. Gowariker’s handling of the subject is impressive and the film surely seems to be a winner. Moreover this film shows Shahrukh in a completely different light from his regular image of the mushy romantic Bollywood icon.
Also contrary to popular belief, Swades is not a period film like Lagaan but is very much a contemporary cinema. Shahrukh plays an engineer who leaves his home in rural India and comes to the United States to work for NASA. Also this 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 shot a scene in the NASA space center rather than on a Filmcity 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).
The supporting cast of the film comprises basically new names like model-turned-actress Gayatri Joshi, Raja Awasthi, Vishwas Badola, Kishori Balal, Rajesh Balwani, Vishnudatt Gaur, Farrukh Jaffar, Bachan Pachehra, Smit Sheth, Lekh Tandon, Bhim Vakani, Rahul Vohra and Rajesh Vivek. Music is composed by maestro A.R.Rehman while Javed Akhtar has penned the lyrics. The film will release in December this year.
However this techno-savvy movie is not a sci-fi attempt by Gowariker but 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. The film itself has the intensity to be among the best of Bollywood classics and may even catapult the already world-renowned Shahrukh Khan among the league of the best of the best actors across the globe. Do we see a couple of Oscars beckoning?