Review: Udaan (2010)

Directed by: Vikramaditya Motwane | 134 minutes | drama | Actors: Ronit Roy, Ram Kapoor, Rajat Barmecha, Manjot Singh, Anand Tiwari, Aayan Boradia, Aarhan Roy Chowdhury, Jayanta Das, Sanjay Gandhi, Raja Hudda, Varun Khettry, Arvind Kumar, Sumant Mastkar, Jyoti Mishra, Ishika Mohan, Sunil Motwane , Mohammad Nizam, Sonia Rajsurana, Nichita Roy, Ruchika Roy, Akshay Sachdev, Khushkeran Singh Sandhu, Raha Sarma, Shaunak Sengupta, Shashi Sharma, Rajani Shekhar, Sonia Talwar

Writer and director Vikramaditya Motwane admits that the recognition at Cannes has been a big boost for the film and his confidence. Motwane, only 33 years old and according to his own words terribly nervous during the casting and the early days of production, states that he initially wanted to make an admittedly independent, but certainly commercial film, aimed at an Indian audience. However, the film ended up at various festivals in Europe and the United States. The fact that the festival audience embraces his coming-of-age film in this way is an unexpected surprise to him.

‘Udaan’ tells the story of Rohan (Rajat Barmecha), who, after spending eight years in a strict Indian boarding school for boys, returns to his parental home, where, after the death of his mother, his dictatorial father (Ronit Roy) holds sway. Although the two have not seen or spoken to each other for eight years, there is no sign of affection from the father’s side when he takes his son off the train. At home, Rohan discovers that his room has been occupied by Arjun, a hitherto unknown half-brother of eight, played fondly by the young Aayan Boradia. As most teenagers would respond, Rohan is outraged at first, then tries to ignore his brother, and eventually has no choice but to take him under his wing and keep him from their overbearing father.

In Indian society, respect for the elderly in general and parents in particular has been raised to almost divine heights. A child should take the wishes and commands of his or her parents seriously and – especially in public – show appropriate submission. Director Motwane makes short work of this old-fashioned-looking straightjacket by showing the stupidity and misunderstanding of this parenting belief. Father Bhairav ​​- who likes to call himself ‘sir’ – does not evoke sympathy in any scene, which on the one hand increases the urgency of the film, but on the other hand makes him somewhat one-dimensional as a character. In addition to criticism of this hierarchical character of Indian society, there is also strong criticism of the machismo present. Despite a notable absence of women in the film, ‘Udaan’ shows with two extreme masculine roles the impossibility of the traditional Indian man (or at least this type), as well as the possibilities of the future version. The virtues that a man like Bhairav ​​radiates (diligence, health, self-discipline) may be worth pursuing, but the megalomaniacal action against both his children and other adults is clearly out of date. The frustration that this realization entails, especially in himself, is painfully well portrayed. It is with good reason that the main swear word he uses against his meek son is ‘girl’, while he himself tries to prove his manhood through cowardly actions. He pushes Arjun down the stairs after he has had a fight at school, and forbids Rohan to pursue his own dreams. He prefers to force him to work in his factory in order to regain his masculinity. Not only does the film show how much the extremely dominant father role can spoil children; he also shows how easily it is passed on from father to son. Rohan soon finds himself repeating his father’s patterns towards his little brother, which makes him realize once again that only breaking free will give their lives a chance to succeed.

Rajat Bharmecha, who plays lead character Rohan, will easily steal the hearts of the viewers with his big brown eyes and sensitive facial expression. He has just that right adolescent radiance over him, in which a final touch of childhood is accompanied by a more mature identity, which in Rohan is initially held back by his tyrannical father, but ultimately reinforced by the opposition to a point where nothing can stop him anymore. In fact, ‘Udaan’ is nothing more than this development, but the film does it with feeling and emotion.


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