Swades (English: Our Country) is a 2004 Indian drama film written, produced and directed by Ashutosh Gowariker, based on the true life story of a Non-resident Indian (NRI) man who returns to his homeland. The film stars Shah Rukh Khan, Gayatri Joshi, Kishori Ballal in leading roles, with Daya Shankar Pandey, Rajesh Vivek, Lekh Tandon appearing in supporting role and Makrand Deshpande in a special appearance. The film was considered ahead of its time, and received widespread critical acclaim at its release. It is now considered a cult classic of Hindi cinema. The music and background score was composed by A. R. Rahman, with lyrics penned by Javed Akhtar.
|Swades: We, the People|
|Directed by||Ashutosh Gowariker|
|Produced by||Ashutosh Gowariker|
|Written by||Ashutosh Gowariker & M.G.Sathya |
K. P. Saxena (Dialogue)
|Screenplay by||Ashutosh Gowariker |
|Story by||Ashutosh Gowariker & M.G.Sathya|
|Starring||Shah Rukh Khan|
|Music by||A. R. Rahman|
|Edited by||Ballu Saluja|
Ashutosh Gowariker Productions
|Distributed by||UTV Motion Pictures|
|17 December 2004|
|Budget||₹210 million (US$3.0 million)|
|Box office||₹342 million (US$4.9 million)|
Mohan Bhargava (Shah Rukh Khan) is an Indian who works as a Project Manager on the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) program at NASA in the United States. He keeps worrying about Kaveri Amma (Kishori Ballal), a nanny at his home in Uttar Pradesh who looked after him during his childhood days. After his parents’ death, Kaveri Amma went to live in an old age home in Delhi and lost contact with Mohan. Mohan wishes to go to India and bring Kaveri Amma back with him to the US. He takes a few weeks off and travels to India. He goes to the old age home but learns that Kaveri Amma no longer lives there and went to a village named Charanpur a few years ago. Mohan then decides to travel to Charanpur, in Uttar Pradesh.
Mohan decides to rent a caravan to reach the village fearing that he might not get the required facilities there. Upon reaching Charanpur, he meets Kaveri Amma and gets to know that it was Gita (Gayatri Joshi), Mohan’s childhood friend, who had brought Kaveri Amma following her parents’ death to stay with her. Gita runs a school in Charanpur and works hard to improve the living conditions of the villagers through education. However, the village is divided largely by caste and religious beliefs. Gita does not like Mohan’s arrival as she thinks that he will take Kaveri Amma back with him to the US, leaving her and her younger brother Chikku alone. Kaveri Amma tells Mohan that she needs to get Gita married first and that it is her responsibility. Gita believes in women empowerment and gender equality. This attracts Mohan towards Gita and he too tries to help her by campaigning for education among backward communities and also girls.
Slowly love blossoms between Mohan and Gita. Kaveri Amma asks Mohan to visit a nearby village named Kodi, and collect money from a man named Haridas who owes it to Gita. The story gives a journey to Mohan very similar to what happened to Mahatma Gandhi after he came back from South Africa. Mohan visits Kodi and feels pity seeing Haridas' poor condition, which is such that he is unable to provide his family with meals every day. Haridas tells Mohan that since his caste profession of a weaver wasn't earning him any money, he shifted to tenant farming. But this change in profession led to his ostracization from the village and the villagers even denied him water for his crops. Mohan understands the pathetic situation and realises that many villages in India are still like Kodi. He returns to Charanpur with a heavy heart and decides to do something for the welfare of Charanpur.
Mohan extends his leave by three more weeks. He learns that electricity inconsistency and frequent power cuts are a big problem in Charanpur. He decides to set up a small hydroelectric power generation facility from a nearby water source. Mohan purchases all the equipment needed from his own funds and oversees the building of the power generation unit. The unit works and the village gets sufficient, consistent power from it.
However, Mohan is repeatedly called by NASA officials as the NASA project he was working on is reaching important stages and he has to return to the US soon. Kaveri Amma tells him that she prefers to stay in Charanpur as it will be difficult for her to adapt to a new country at her age. Gita also tells him that she will not settle down in another country and she would prefer it if Mohan stayed in India with her. Mohan returns to the US with a heavy heart to complete the project. However, in the US, he has flashbacks of his time in India and wishes to return. After the successful completion of his project, he leaves the US and returns to India with intentions of working at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Center, from where he can also work with NASA. The movie ends showing Mohan staying in the village and wrestling near a temple.
- Shahrukh Khan as Mohan Bhargava
- Gayatri Joshi as Geeta
- Kishori Ballal as Kaveri Amma
- Rajesh Vivek as Nivaaran
- Makrand Deshpande as Fakir
- Lekh Tandon as Dadaji
- Daya Shankar Pandey as Melaram
- Bachan Pachehra as Haridas
- Vishnudutt Gaur as Vishnudutt
- Farrukh Jaffar as Panch Fatima Bi
- Visshwa Badola as Panch Munishwar
- Bhim Vakani as Panch Narayan
- Dilip Ambekar as Panch Hariya
- Raja Awasthi as Panch Gungadin
- Rahul Vohra as Vinod
- Rajesh Balwani as Rahul
- Peter Rawley as John Stockton
- Smit Sheth as Chiku
- Mayuri Bagade as Bookstore girl
Swades is inspired by the Kannada movie Chigurida Kanasu, written by Shivaram Karanth, a Jnanpith Award winner, and the story of Aravinda Pillalamarri and Ravi Kuchimanchi, the NRI couple who returned to India and developed a pedal power generator to light remote, off-the-grid village schools. Gowariker spent considerable time with Aravinda and Ravi, both dedicated Association for India's Development (AID) volunteers. He supposedly visited Bilgaon, an Adivasi village in the Narmada valley, which is the backdrop of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) movement. The people of Bilgaon are credited with doing 200 person-days of shramdaan (community service) to make their village energy self-sufficient. The Bilgaon project is recognised as a model for replication by the Government of Maharashtra.
Mahatma Gandhi's great-grandson, Tushar Gandhi noted the theme of Gandhism in the film. He found it unfortunate that the movie was not a box office success. The name of the main character portrayed by Shahrukh Khan is Mohan, which was Mahatma Gandhi's birth name (Mohandas or "Mohan"). Swades opens with the following quotation from Gandhi:
|“||Hesitating to act because the whole vision might not be achieved, or because others do not yet share it, is an attitude that only hinders progress.||”|
Gowariker tries to address the lack of a scientific temperament and widespread ignorance among the rural folks through the energetic number "Ye Tara Wo Tara", where Mohan is seen encouraging the children to experience the fascinating world of stars through his telescope. In a symbolic manner, the song rejects the defunct divisions of caste and class and at the same time, through its protagonist, tries to instill in the audience an appreciation of curiosity and observation. Gowariker sang a part of the song ""Pal Pal Hai Bhari "
Casting and filmingEdit
Swades was the first Indian film to be shot inside the NASA research center at the Launch Pad 39A of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The rainfall monitoring satellite known as the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) in the film is an actual NASA mission and was launched in 2014.
The film received overwhelmingly strong acclaim from critics. Swades went on to become a cult classic and Khan's performance as Mohan Bhargava is considered one of his best to date.
Subhash K Jha of Indiatimes Movies gave the film 4.5 stars out of 5 and said, "Swades is a unique experiment with grassroots realism. It is so politically correct in its propagandist message that initially you wonder if the Government of India funded the director's dream."
Mayank Shekhar from MiD DAY gave it 4 stars, stating, "I cannot think of a better film for the longest that deserved a stronger recommendation for both touring cinemas of India's villages, and plush multiplexes of Mumbai or Manhattan." Jitesh Pillai of the Sunday Times of India gave the film 4 stars and said "After Lagaan, what? The answer's blowing in the wind. Swades. Here's the verdict: This is a gutsy and outstanding film. Welcome back to real, solid film-making." He added, "Swades is undoubtedly the No 1 movie of the year."
Shradha Sukumaran of Mid-Day gave it 3.5 stars and said, "At the end of it, Swades is a far braver film than Lagaan. It could have hit the high note — if it hadn't tried so hard."
Avijit Ghosh wrote in The Telegraph, "With its gentle humour, the film acts as an entertaining vehicle for social change. And hopefully, it will do more for positive nationalism than the Union government's Directorate of Audio Visual Publicity (DAVP) ads ever will."
Swades earned ₹152.5 million (US$2.2 million) net box office in India. In the overseas market, the film made $2,790,000. It had a lifetime worldwide gross of ₹342.6 million (US$5.0 million). The film topped the Chennai box office on its opening weekend. The movie was declared a flop domestically and a semi-hit overseas by Box Office India, earning ₹34.26 crore worldwide on a budget of ₹21 crore.
It is the first Indian movie to be shot inside NASA's headquarters. It has also become a classic of modern Indian cinema for representing the trope of returning to one's roots to make a difference.
The background score and soundtrack received universal critical acclaim, especially "Yeh Jo Des Hai Tera" and songs from the soundtrack are remain popular.
|Soundtrack album by|
|Recorded||Panchathan Record Inn|
|Genre||Feature film soundtrack|
|Producer||A. R. Rahman|
|A. R. Rahman chronology|
|1.||"Yeh Taara Woh Taara"||Udit Narayan, Master Vignesh, Baby Pooja||7:13|
|2.||"Saanwariya Saanwariya"||Alka Yagnik||5:17|
|3.||"Yun Hi Chala Chala"||Udit Narayan, Kailash Kher, Hariharan||7:28|
|4.||"Yeh Jo Des Hai Tera"||A. R. Rahman||6:28|
|5.||"Aahista Aahista"||Udit Narayan, Sadhana Sargam||6:35|
|6.||"Pal Pal Hai Bhaari"||Madhushree, Vijay Prakash||6:50|
|7.||"Dekho Na"||Alka Yagnik, Udit Narayan||5:46|
|8.||"Pal Pal Hai Bhaari" (Flute)||Naveen||3:38|
|9.||"Yeh Jo Des Hai Tera" (Shehnai)||Madhukar Dhumal||4:00|
The Tamil soundtrack under the title Desam was composed by A.R. Rahman. All Lyrics were written by Vaali. According to the Indian trade website Box Office India, with around 13,00,000 units sold, this film's soundtrack album was the eleventh highest-selling of the year.
|Thirukona Moolam||S.P. Balasubrahmanyam, Master Vignesh, Baby Pooja||7:13|
|Kaaviriya Kaaviriya||Madhushree, Alka Yagnik (humming)||5:17|
|Unnai Kelai||T. L. Maharajan, Hariharan||7:28|
|Unthan Desathin Kural||A. R. Rahman||6:28|
|Thai Sonna||K.J. Yesudas, Madhushree||6:35|
|Mazhai Mega Vanna||K. S. Chithra, Srinivas||6:50|
|Kettenaa Naan||Mohammed Aslam, Sadhana Sargam||5:46|
|Unthan Desathin Kural (Shehnai)||Madhukar T. Dhumal||4:00|
- Best Male Playback Singer - Udit Narayan for "Yeh Taara Woh Taara"
- Best Cinematography - Mahesh Aney
- Best Actor - Shahrukh Khan
- Best Background Score - A.R. Rahman
- Nominated for Best Male Playback Singer - Master Vignesh & Udit Narayan
- Best Female Debut - Gayatri Joshi
- Best Sound Re-recording - Hitendra Ghosh
- Best Story - Ashutosh Gowariker
- Best Director (Critics) - Ashutosh Gowariker
- Most Promising Female Newcomer - Gayatri Joshi
- Dream Director - Ashutosh Gowariker
- Best Debut Female - Gayatri Joshi
- Film Café Awards
- Best Actor - Shahrukh Khan
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