Director: Ashutosh Gowariker
Music: AR Rahman
Mohan Bhargav (Shah Rukh Khan) is the Project Manager for NASA’s Global Precipitation Measurement Satellite project. Although his career is at a peak, he feels a hollow in him. Mohan reminisces on his childhood, after he lost his parents in an accident and the emptiness he felt in the life that he led. The memories of his childhood takeover him and he decides to get back to India to search for his childhood nanny Kaveriamma (Kishori Ballal).
Mohan lands in Delhi and finds out that Kaveri is now in a village. He is busy finding a map of the area, when he chances a meeting with the pretty lady Gita (Gayatri Joshi). Mohan’s search for Kaveri leads him to a small village Charanpur which is a little more advanced than the pre-independence Lagaan village. He then discovers that Gita is a relative of Kaveri. Mohan finds Gita irresistible.
The rest of the movie is a drama of the village’s problems, such as electricity, space for Gita’s school, lack of connectivity on his cellphone and the internet. Mohan finds it weird to discover that the whole village had only one phone from which he could dial an international number. Like a typical foreign settler, he carries a supply of mineral water wherever he goes. In the meantime, Mohan invites Kaveri to migrate abroad with him but Gita persists that he wouldn’t leave Kaveriamma. Kaveri sends Mohan to a nearby village where he finds that people are in deeper problems for water, and problems with caste differences.
Disgusted by all of these, Mohan, against all odds tries to get the villagers out of the caste mould and convinces the villagers to send their children to school. He builds a mini hydroelectric power station from a nearby stream to solve the power problems of the village. In the meantime, Gita confesses her love towards him.
Towards the end of the movie, it seems that the whole village loves him so much that they request him to stay on. But, Mohan insists on returning. As a last bet, Gita hands Mohan a gift, symbolic of Indian Culture and requests him to stay on. Although Mohan is back in the US, his heart is still in India and with his lady love Gita. With his heart and mind out at India, he quits his high-profile NASA job and returns to India.
The story is a pure drama of an NRI’s view towards the grassroots problems of Indian Villages. The protagonist is a sample of a highly educated engineer/scientist in a high profile job in the US and someone whose American citizenship was just approved. The rest of the Indian characters portray the life in a typical Indian village with problems of illiteracy and caste problems. Ashutosh Gowariker seems to have made a movie keeping the likes of the story’s protagonist in view as the target audience.
Although Shah Rukh Khan’s acting skills have nowadays become more than predictable, his performance in Swades is definitely better than that of his recent flicks KHNH or MHN. The model turned actress Gayatri Joshi is simply amazing in the role of the graceful, principled role that she plays. Well, although her stunning looks in the saree-clad role are captivating, her characterization in the story is such that one would feel like chasing for a girl like her. The rest of the roles seem to repeat from Lagaan. Music is not upto Rahman’s standards.
Bottomline: The target audience seems to be Purely a NRI. (Rating: 3/5)