Swades: Apne Hi Paani Mein Pighal Jaana…

Posted: March 25, 2013 by moifightclub in cinema
Tags: , , , , , , ,


SRK Swades

We love films for various reasons. There are those rare films that seem flawless, every bit crafted to almost impossible perfection. Then there are those even rarer films- with jagged edges and ‘flaws’ that make them so alive and human, they become a part of you.

Swades, for me, is just that kind of film. Its sheer lack of guile- perceived by many as a problem- actually pulls me closer to it; its innate naivety almost seems like a natural companion to the film’s innocent, idealistic spirit. It is this spirit- one that has nearly disappeared from the movies- that Swades gloriously celebrates- and which makes even the ‘imperfections’ in its cinematic artifice a part of its immense beauty.

 Replete with layers and themes that are conveyed through striking imagery and symbolism across its enchantingly languorous narrative, Swades wonderfully blends mythic and fantastical elements within a realistic narrative form.

The most dominant symbol used throughout Swades is that of water- and it is indeed an interesting, though perhaps insignificant coincidence that Ashutosh Gowariker happens to be an Aquarian. 

The preciousness of human life- both denoted by and dependent on water- is something that Swades repeatedly stresses on, and this is evident in the very first sequence of the film that takes place at NASA, which epitomizes the acme of technological and scientific development and stands in sharp contrast to the electricity deprived villages in the heartland of India. After Mohan Bhargava (Shahrukh Khan in arguably, his finest performance) concludes his presentation on the Global Precipitation Measurement Satellite Project that he is handling, a member of the audience asks him whether the massive budget for the project is really justified. 

To this, Mohan replies:

“Globally, there is a danger of water recession in the near future…It will not be unreal to imagine that in the 21st century, cities like Beijing, New Delhi, Santiago… and many others will use up their surrounding water and perish. Water is going to be rare. Is this not reason enough to justify any budget?”

The divisive ancient caste system- one of the main issues that the film addresses- prohibits the sharing of water by people of different castes. Water in Swades is the very elixir of life; the sacred element which unites all those who share it in an unbreakable bond. So water is omnipresent in the film and in its visuals- sometimes subtly, sometimes more conspicuously so.

When the NRI Mohan Bhargava arrives in India, he cautiously avoids drinking anything but mineral water, staying in the sanitized confines of his caravan. As he transforms from an outside observer to an active part(icipant) of the community, we watch Mohan as he bathes, sails through- and then, in the most powerful and memorable scene of the film, drink the water of his country. This moment could well be the called the emotional epicenter of the film. Mohan’s transformation is complete- he can no longer be a detached observer.

Later, during the film’s climax, we see Mohan literally plunge into the water reservoir to make the dam turbine work, and generate hydroelectricity. And finally, of course there is the film’s parting shot- Mohan sitting on the banks of the central village water body washing himself with his feet dipped in. The camera slowly zooms out towards the sky and we see hordes of people moving towards the very same water, almost as if attracted by an invisible, magnetic force.

Swades: Feet in water

Mohan has found his roots, his people… his home. As Fatema Bi says: ‘अपने ही पानी मे पिघल जाना बर्फ का मुक़द्दर होता है…’

PS: As many have pointed out, this has unintentionally coincided with the current and drastic drought conditions here in Maharashtra. Many of us including me, living in our little comfortable bubbles like Mohan, sometimes don’t realize just how bad the situation is. So have a Happy and dry Holi, guys! 🙂

  1. Jeet says:

    Nice .. But we want knw Whr Mr Snob is , and y he left

  2. Kenny says:

    Me too in the Big fans of Swades club

  3. Marty says:

    I guess the name of the city will be San Diego and not Santiago..lol.
    A good article nevertheless.

  4. Shilpa says:

    What a great post! Made me want to go back and watch this movie all over again. Loved the way you connected it to the drought situation too. Thanks for making my Monday.

  5. j says:

    This is the stuff I love this blog for. \m/

  6. Vivek Gupta says:

    Great post, thanks!

  7. Shatrughan says:

    Its Bollywood’s loss that K.P. Saxena is not getting more chance to write…Well written piece.

  8. hardik mehta says:

    brilliant post – wanted to read a little more – esp on amazing work of javed-saab and rahman…

    समझो इस पहेली को, बूँद हो अकेली तो, एक बूँद जैसे कुछ भी नहीं
    हम औरो को छोडे तो, मूँह सबसे ही मोडे तो, तनहा रहना जाए देखो हम कहीं
    क्यों ना बने मिलके हम धारा?

    beautiful isn’t it?

  9. Mohit says:

    Look forward to the remainder of the post. I like the fact that this wasn’t so much of an “analysis” as a sincere, heartfelt account – just what like Swades calls for.

    Speaking of “films crafted to impossible perfection”, one which, like Swades, extensively uses water as a metaphor is Govind Aravindan’s Esthappan. It’s India’s Rashomon. That level of awesome.

    P.S. The Fari sir influence is quite apparent, esp in the second paragraph. Which reminds me, SnobuSirCumBak!!!

  10. dr.Vinod Gondalia says:

    Do you mean to say that the water is flying away to Mars or monn from the Earth? No. The water is not going anywhere.It is there eaither in the oceans or the mountains and the glaciers.So there is not going to be shortage of water.What is going to happen in future is availability and distribution of water for human consumptionMake no mistake.The oceans are expanding.What does this mean.It means that their water capacity is increasing.There are draughts.Agreed.But that is because of lack of rains and lack of distribution of water from the rivers.So back to the same point.There will be fights for the water.The water for human consumption.

  11. Ayyappan Pillai says:

    I too loved the movie, my favourite line was “Apne aangan kaa ped, doosre ki chaukhat par phale phoole.. toh ghar ke armaan maati min mil jaate hain.. it’s like..apni chaukhat ka diya..and giving light to neighbour’s house.. “

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