“The most important film to come out of India in a long, long time” -Shekhar Kapoor “Indian Cinema’s first great political epic” -Ashutosh Gowarikar A film that has been showered with such praise by some of India’s finest filmmakers must surely be an interesting watch. Let’s find out. The Movie, The Director, The Cast Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi – A thousand dreams such as these, the title is based on a couplet by renowned Urdu poet Ghalib and it is a story of lives & dreams of three youngsters during the tumultuous times of late 60’s and 70’s, when India was undergoing major social and political upheavals.
The cast features Kay Kay Menon, Chitrangada Singh & Shiney Ahuja as the three youngsters. Though relatively unknown at that time, all three shot to fame after the movie, with Shiney Ahuja sweeping almost all awards for the Best Debutant for the year 2006. Directed by Sudhir Mishra and penned by him along with Ruchi Narain & Shiv Kumar Subramaniam, it was released in 2005, and is the most acclaimed work of the famed director till date, whose previous works include movies such as Dharavi (1991), Iss Raat Ki Subah Nahin (1996) and Chameli (2003).
It won 2006 Filmfare Best Story Award and was lauded across the globe at prestigious platforms such as the Berlin Film Festival, the Edinburgh Film Festival and the Commonwealth International Film Festival film. The Plot The movie begins in 1969, where the protagonists, Siddharth Tyebji (Kay Kay Menon), Geeta Rao (Chitrangada Singh) & Vikram Malhotra (Shiney Ahuja), students in St. Stephens College in Delhi, are leaving college and heading towards their respective goals. Siddharth is son of an ex-judge, born with the proverbial ‘silver spoon’.
He has a stong left inclination and believes in use of violence as a means to fight oppression. He is disillusioned with democratic methods of his fathers’ generation and takes to the back roads of Bihar to be a part of Naxalite movement and foment a revolution among the masses against the feudal system and caste based discrimination. Geeta, Siddharth’s girlfriend comes from a relatively less affluent background. She is less politically aware than Siddharth and tries to be a part of his activities, but refuses to join him in his revolutionary ambitions.
Vikram, coming from a lower middle class family, is tired of his Gandhian father and wants to earn money and get ahead in the social standing. He is in love with Geeta, which he openly confesses to her but she, being in love with Siddharth treats him just as a friend. After an introduction of the characters, story cuts to 4 years ahead, year 1973. Siddharth is still in Bihar, fighting oppression & injustice, Geeta has married an IAS officer, who, in her words, has “everything that a woman can ask for” and Vikram has become a political fixer, and has “made a pot of money”.
Unable to get over her fist love, Geeta leaves her husband and joins Siddharth in the village he is working in, while Vikram, who is about to get married to a tycoon’s daughter is still as much in love with Geeta as he was before. Two years hence, year 1975, Geeta and Siddharth are still in villages, where Geeta is involved with social welfare of villagers while Siddharth, a Naxalite, is a fugitive from the law. By now, Vikram has become very powerful and rubs shoulders with the top politicians. It is now that the Emergency is imposed by the ruling Congress government.
Siddharth & Geeta, being on the other side of law suffer atrocities at the hands of police. Siddharth is injured and captured and is informed that the Police is planning to kill him, which literally breaks him and he just get out of there and save his life, even if it means to abandon the revolution. In an ironic twist, Siddharth’s father requests Vikram to help Siddharth. Vikram, still in love with Geeta goes to Bihar to help him, and in a heart wrenching climax, is charged by police with abetting the revolutionaries, and is tortured and brutally beaten, which leave him paralyzed.
In the end, Siddharth, defeated by his world of struggle leaves to pursue medicine while Geeta stays back in the village with Vikram who now knows nothing but Geeta. Director’s Premise In this movie, Sudhir Mishra tries to depict the era from the history of the nation when we faced innumerable challenges. The young, born and brought up in a free country, were not ready to believe in the Nehruvian ideals and his socialist dreams that had defined the nation’s direction till then, like their parents did.
There was a heady spirit of revolution in the air and the guiding ideals of the nation were being re-defined. Starting with the “Tryst with destiny”, the keynote speech by Jawaharlal Nehru’s delivered on the eve of independence, the director says the Nehru made a “horological error” in saying the India will awake to light and freedom while the world sleeps. He goes on to say : “by the time my older brothers and sisters (not that I had any) went to college in the late sixties, Nehru had died and his dream soured”
It is in this context, that the director weaves the story around the contradictions of the times when the nation faced innumerable social and political challenges; the rise of extremists against the state oppression in parts of the nation, and the rightwards totalitarian shift of the ruling Congress party; when the children of those in power, inspired more by their brethren in west and appalled by the apathy of the nation to its own people wanted to instill radical changes in the Indian society that would change the face of the government and the nation while those who had not been fortunate enough were apathetic to these socio-cultural changes and looked to use the system to their own advantage.
It is in such times that the movie is set, and in words of Sudhir Mishra, “ this is the story of my imaginary siblings’ lives in those times… …when India was being pulled in a thousand directions” Analysis of the Treatment Sudhir Mishra uses rich, complex characters to juxtapose the contradictions. His characters are not mere caricatures that ascribe to one ideology or the other and can be classified as white or black. They are well developed individual, complex and layered, who, at best, are grey. Each major character has a significant flaw or a dark streak, through which the clash of the Ideals & Harsh Realities emerge. Siddharth is a revolutionary who wants to break free from his father’s ideology and change all that is wrong with the world. He is caught up with himself, his ideals and what he wants to do.
He is love with Geeta, but each time he has a choice, he chooses his revolution over her, and ends up getting her embroiled in it too. But he is defeated in the end; he cracks up seeing the imminent death and abandons his dear revolution and social uprising for a comfortable life. Vikram is the “Mr. Fixit”, the deal maker, the middleman. He takes all possible corrupt measures to further his personal gains, and yet he looks up to his father and his Gandhian Ideals. He is madly in love with Geeta, and it keeps bringing him back to her. Perhaps it is this unrequited love, and the fate that he meets in the end for his love that makes audience connect & empathize with him. Geeta emerges to be the strongest character of the three.
She has her share of flaws, she doesn’t love Vikram but uses him to the extent possible, walks out of a marriage because she married wrong. But then, she faces brutal atrocities at the hands of police, and unlike Siddharth, she doesn’t abandon her work. She returns to the same villages because she is the one person who understands that the world doesn’t change just because one wants it to and it takes a lot more. Though seemingly opposite, Vikram and Siddharth are both trying to break free from the path chalked down by their father’s generation. It is in this similarity that the clash of the aspirations among the generations, among those who were at the helm of the government and those who wanted to change the nation is evident.
They stand for the contesting ideologies of the time, those who heard the call of history and took the plunge versus those who entered the rat race for money and fame. Satire is used by the director throughout the movie to bring out subtle nuances. A hint of sarcasm is evident in his treatment of Nehru’s speech, and this sets the tone for the movie. The director has taken a critical view of the political machinery of the era. The rot in the ideological setup, and the seamless switching loyalties of politicians, where they don the colors of socialism at one instance, and are back to Congress another is beautifully shown against the backdrop of emergency.
Sycophancy of the party workers is shown in a hilarious sequence where the congress party workers are running around the lawn, chasing the pet pooch at the bungalow of a senior party leader in the background of a scene. The harsh realities of the revolution dawn on Siddharth in another such sequence, when the villagers are at throat of the landlord since his son raped a low-caste girl. Siddharth thinks this to be a great leap, but is flummoxed when the same people are overpowered by their sense of duty to him, and are praying for his well being the next moment when he gets a heart attack. Even the success of their movement is later on assessed by him by stating that now someone from high caste cannot rape a lower caste woman without a certain body part chopped being chopped off.
In my view, one flaw in treatment is the defeat that prevails throughout the movie. The protagonists are battered by their dreams and circumstances. Siddharth leaves behind Geeta and tries to change the world, in the end he has nothing left by his side while Vikram goes after Geeta but is left in a state where he doesn’t even know that she is with him. All three of them dare to dream but at each step end up losing. The movie, among other things is also about the dreams and the heady spirit of revolution of the 60’s & 70’s, and this treatment, though touches ones heart, does leave him with a sense of gloom, for those who might have gone down such a path and lost all that they had. Relevance to Indian Society & Governance
While describing an era from the Indian history that has gone by, several of the issues touched upon by the film are relevant even today; be it the Naxalite movement, the social inequity & injustice in villages, state sponsored terrorism in the form of Police atrocities, the unholy nexus of politicians & businessmen, and the rampant corruption. This is one of the few mainstream movies to trace the Naxalite movements along with the events leading to the Emergency, and the period itself. The problems of social inequity and the failure of state to provide for development in the villages is the reason for the disillusionment of Siddharth. In his words, Delhi and Bhojpur (Bihar) are separated by not just 2000 Km but also by 5000 years. This is a remark on not just the unequal development of various parts of the country, but on the ancient social structures, the caste system and the feudal structure that still mar these regions.
The low-caste landless labour are subjected to a sort of slavery of the landlords since in the absence of Land reforms, the means of production, and their livelihood, are all with the land-owners. The situations haven’t changed much over the years, and the villages are still bound in the shackles of caste structure. The Naxalite movement, today a threat to one-third of our nation is shown in its infancy, and in a sympathetic light in the movie. The movement derives its name from the village of Naxalbari in Bengal, where a group of villagers rose in armed revolt against the landlords in 1967. The uprising was crushed within a couple of months, but it lived on in the form of student led extremism, where large number of students of middle class families took up arms in an attempt to rage a class war.
The rise of Naxalites has been ascribed to the failure of government to provide for even the basic level of governance and infrastructure in certain far flung areas, as well as the oppression of people in the villages at that time due to the feudal social structures, some of which we have still not been been able to do away with. It is against this background that the Naxalism took it roots. The government has answered this, not by improving the lives of people but by perpetrating state sponsored terrorism on those who are sympathetic to the Naxal cause, and this state led oppression and police atrocities have been sensitively shown in the movie.
The Naxalite movement today is the biggest threat to internal security faced by India, and one of the factors fuelling its growth is the failure of the state to safeguard the interests of its citizens against its own machinery. The most significant contribution of the movie, however, is its documentation of Emergency. The state of Emergency, popularly known as Emergency, was imposed by Ms. Indira Gandhi from 1975-77, is described by many as the darkest hour in Indian political history. The period was marked by a state led subjugation of all dissenting elements, be it leaders of opposition or the local level party workers who showed discontent against the government.
This fascist shift of Congress under Ms. Indira Gandhi pushed several ex-congressmen to other socialist parties since they found themselves unable to reconcile with the changed ideology of their party. This period was also marked by several state run programs, most notable being the sterilization program run by Sanjay Gandhi. The movie manages to effortlessly capture these events and weave them into the storyline. In the present milieu, the movie is relevant since it can be a medium for the today’s youngsters to connect with their not so long ago past. This work has the potential to instill in them a sense of the challenges and sacrifices of people like them, no so long ago.
Several of the issues that Sudhir Mishra looks as are still relevant, but the significance of Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi is in the fact that the people, about whom this movie is, are still around; the leaders of our nation today and our bureaucrats are a product of those times. The movie left a deep impression on me when I watched it for the first time a few years ago, and each time that I had watched it after that, I have found some more meaning in it. The relevance of the movie and its importance in present context has already been talked about at length. To add to that, the fate of the protagonists leave a deep impression and haunts one for quite some time, that is it what happens when someone tries to follow ones heart’s dictates.
In the end I would like to say that this is one movie that everyone must watch, for the amazing storytelling of Sudhir Mishra, stellar performances by the actors and for the beautifully laid of story of the upheavals and turmoil in our country’s history References: http://passionforcinema. com/hazaaron-khwaishen-aisi-and-after/ http://www. indianetzone. com/20/hazaron_khwaishein_aisi_indian_movie. htm http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Hazaaron_Khwaishein_Aisi http://www. berlinale. de/external/en/filmarchiv/doku_pdf/20041308. pdf http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Sudhir_Mishra http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Naxalbari http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/The_Emergency_(India)
Cite this Film Review – Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi
Film Review – Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi. (2018, Jan 28). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/film-review-hazaaron-khwaishein-aisi/