In our pressure cooker society, an adolescent's aspirations are woven from the expectations of their parents. In earnest efforts to fulfill those expectations, the youth have often strangled their dreams and yet, hidden in those glimmering eyes is the hope to become a writer, the excitement of living life to its fullest everyday, the recklessness of a brat, the spirit of adventure, the fear of his father's wrath over his carefree attitude, the discomfort of living the alternate life and the determination to break free. Such is the glimmer seen in the eyes of Rohan (Rajat Barmecha) in debutant director Vikramaditya Motwane's 'Udaan' which is co-written and produced by Anurag Kashyap; from whom, only excellence is accepted.
Udaan is indeed a flight of dreams for cinema. Motwane depicts a simple but relevant story with the most exhaustive and impeccable narrative. Seldom has reality been so refreshingly poignant as it has with Rohan's journey of chasing his dreams.
Having spent 8 years in boarding school, away from his stern father, Rohan hones his writing skills after occasional escapades with his foolhardy friends with whom he shares a bond of freedom, fear, hope, joy and dreams. After they cross the limits of discipline in the school's standards, their expulsion sends each of them back to their families and Rohan, to Jamshedpur, where his hot tempered father (Ronit Roy) leaves him no choice but to work with him in his foundry and study in the city's engineering college. Rohan also discovers his step brother he did not know about and while he remains aloof from that innocent child, we can feel the growing tension between a rigid father and his audacious son. Bhairav's brother Jimmy (Ram Kapoor) also plays an important part in being an understanding guide to Rohan's ambitions but even he cannot confront the rudeness and apathy of his elder brother for too long. Rohan's mornings involve long runs with his father around the city, hours of hard labor in the foundry, followed by hours of incurious attendance in college, followed by circuitous paths back home where he writes his stories and poetry on railway tracks and river banks and finally, back to the tense environment of home. It is quite shocking to see him sneak out with his father's car and drive around the city to revel in its night life with a new bunch of foolhardy goons. At some point you almost cover your face because you are more afraid of the result of his actions than he is!
The younger son, Arjun (Aayan Boradia) is hospitalized after receiving a discreet beating by his father and while the tyrant leaves for a few days, a heart-warming bond develops between the brothers through the writer's stories. The tension between Bhairav Singh and Rohan is beautifully balanced with Arjun's placid innocence and his relationship with Rohan. Concurrently, Rohan is tempted to join his hostel friends in Bombay where they now run a restaurant. He only becomes more desperate as his father attempts to renew his personal life in an attempt to seek solace.
In the end, Rohan's flight of dreams turns into a Flight to freedom as he breaks the shackles for his Udaan. The moment is inspiring, uplifting and relieving after a final race between an apathetic enforcer and a dreamer.
Unlike 'Iqbal' and 'Taare Zameen Par', Udaan has the capability to engage you in a personal manner as one can relate to the mature protagonist either with one's own history in adolescent years or having a friend/brother who was in similar circumstances. We have all lived some of the moments that Rohan experiences. Those late night escapades, watching C grade movies in small towns, drinking to life with friends, just picking on a fight because you feel like it, being rebellious against the dictating conventions and introspecting into one's conscience to find life's meaning.
Rajat Barmecha is a revelation with a mature and sincere performance in a challenging role as the adolescent. Ronit Roy as Bhairav Singh delivers a shocking performance. He is so well versed with the character that it makes it one of the most natural performances we have seen. Indeed, it is sad to see him overact in his alternate avatar on TV. Ram Kapoor brings liveliness with deep understanding of the emotions of his character. Little Aayan Boradia is remarkable for his age and debut while we wish to see more of Manjot Singh in a comic role as he was just hilarious in every scene!
Amit Trivedi's soulful musical journey is only optimized with Amitabh Bhattacharya's lyrics which will narrate the movie's essence. While being meaningful in lyrics, the music is very contemporary in its beats and rhythms. The inspiring words in Ek Udaan, the uplifting tone and feel of Aazaadiyan, the hopeful and soul stirring Kahaani, the literally refreshing Geet (Kuch naya toh zaroor) and the insulting Motu Master are truly unique compositions that will remain with you as long as the movie will.
Mahendra Shetty's exemplary photography depicts Jamshedpur in all its green splendour. The indoor camera angles too suit the mood of the scene and put even more life into the characters.
Abstaining from the conventional medium of telling stories, Motwane chose to be real yet artistic in his direction of Udaan. Such film-making speaks aloud of how far Indian films have come. With the most appropriate utilization of music in situations, the writers also add depth with Rohan's poetry. The visuals support such adept collaboration of script and performances while neglecting all the cliched dramatization.
Udaan resonates the deeper cords to leave a lasting impression. Its rich narrative, powerful performances, sincere making and inspiring music are to be cherished for they do not come so often in such a vivid form. Take this flight....
-9.337 on a scale of 1-10.