Please do not waste your time checking out this awful film. The central problem with this film is that the director could not make up his mind whether he should go on to make a true-to-the-genre "watan" (literally means country, but as a genre signifies films with an exaggerated patriotic sensibility) film, or a parody of it. "Rang de Basanti" oscillates between these two points of view, till it fails to be either. A pathetic and limp film as a patriotic one, and an unsure and wavering attempt at parody, inspite of some peppy dialogue inserted almost as an afterthought. The characters have no history and no context. Added to this already fatal menu, is the story of a "foreigner", Sue, who comes to India to make a film on Indian martyrs, and in the process of making it, inspires patriotism in a group of aimless youth, so much so that they end up assassinating the defence minister for corruption! The film degenerates abominably in the second half. The transformation of the group of friends is ridiculous, possibly because the film is uncertain about both the verite register as well as the demands of the larger-than-life. Stylish cinematography does not rescue it, because the decision to shoot the sequences from the film within the film (the one being made by Sue) in sepia, is simply a gimmick (I strongly suspect that Mehra saw Hou's "Good Men, Good Women" without paying enough attention to the sheer craft of the director). Towards the end, when the friends decide to get rid of the corrupt defence minister, there is a hilarious morphing - each of them start speaking chaste, literary Hindi imagining themselves to be the martyrs whose roles they enact in Sue's film. Though it is supposed to be a dead serious sequence, you cannot stop yourself from rolling on the floor! I tried really hard to think of this film as a parody, but couldn't hold on to the idea for long. Ultimately, all the friends are shot by the rapid action force as they take over the radio station and announce to the nation that they are brave martyrs!!!
Mr Mehra, are you serious? If you are, you've pushed bollywood back by 20 years and more, in spite of your back-and-forth storytelling device, film-within a film gimmick and the technical finesse of the shots! Is there any earthly reason why you should be making a bad rehash of N. Chandra's 1986 film, "Ankush" in 2006?