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Udaan does not quite soar

It is only natural that Vikramaditya Motwane’s Udaan arrived at the ongoing Cannes Film Festival literally on a flight of hope and expectation. Udaan is not one of the best Indian films made in recent months, but...

movie reviews Updated: May 20, 2010 19:32 IST
Gautaman Bhaskaran

Gautaman Bhaskaran

Gautaman Bhaskaran

It is only natural that Vikramaditya Motwane’s Udaan arrived at the ongoing Cannes Film Festival literally on a flight of hope and expectation. For, India has had a no-show for seven years, the last entry from the nation of 1200 movies a year being in 2003. Murali Nair’s Arimpara from Kerala had certainly been a rank bad choice, and poorly conceived and made. And to boot, what a subject of a mole on a man’s face growing with gigantic alarm!

Happily, Udaan, which I watched here, is by comparison a better work detailing the story of Rohan (played by debutant Rajat Barmecha), just about to touch 18, abused and ignored by a father (Ronit Roy) who does not even want his son to call him father. “Address me Sir”, he commands after the boy had been expelled from his elite boarding school in Shimla for being caught watching a soft-porn movie in a city theatre. When Rohan lands in Jamshedpur, his father forces military regimentation on the boy sans any paternal compassion or sense of fairness. Added to this, the man cruelly tramples upon Rohan’s dream of becoming a writer (even burning the manuscript of his novel), forces him to study engineering and work in his recession-hit factory as a nothing more than a labourer.

Rohan has a little step-brother, Arjun (brilliantly essayed by Aayan Boradia), from his father’s later marriage that the boy knew nothing about in the eight years he remained banished in the boarding and from his father’s consciousness. Things turn a point of no-return when the father beats Arjun so brutally that he has to be rushed to hospital.

Arjun is a natural, and with his sense of perfect timing will endear to just about every viewer. So too will Jimmy (Ram Kapoor), Rohan’s screen uncle. Other performers appear too wooden to impress, but what is far more unfortunate is the way Motwane has scripted Rohan’s father, Bhairav Singh. His character is too dark, too unidimensional to appear remotely convincing. Udaan makes him a complete villain, and stubbornly refuses to add even a wee bit of grey. The work suffers also because it has 30 minutes of flab that could have been easily chopped off.

Arguably, Udaan is not one of the best Indian films made in recent months, but as Christian Jeune, the Festival’s Deputy General-Delegate, told me, “We chose Udaan because we felt that it had a good chance of travelling”.

So be it, but one hopes that those hundreds of people attending the 63rd edition of the 12-day cinematic extravaganza would understand that India does make far better cinema. Only that it seldom screens at Cannes.