“You know what you’re going to lose?” asks John
“ I know what I’m going to gain”, replies Mohan.
Well, not only does Mohan gain but also the audience. ‘Swades’ is an epitome of nostalgia and patriotism. Swades breathes fresh air into the stereotypical Hindi cinema by providing the audience a heartwarming film with a message that will stir the hearts of the audience and leave them with a message to think upon.
Directed by Ashutosh Gowarikar, Swades revolves around the nostalgic journey of a successful NASA scientist Mohan Bhargava from America to India. He returns to India to bring his nanny Kaveri Amma to America and provide her with all the luxuries. However, little did he know that his life was going to change for good. While in India, Mohan experiences a village without electricity, a place where education wasn’t considered important, a mentality that empowered child marriage and child labor. The high rate of poverty and illiteracy instill within him the need to give back to his country. He takes the first step towards development by bringing electricity to the village and as he says in the movie, “ I want to light a bulb”.
Furthermore, in the midst of the various social themes, Ashutosh Gowarikar brings the essence of romance through the character of Gita who is a confidant young woman, fights for education rights in the village and encourages women empowerment by expressing that a women’s hands are not just meant for mehndi. Romance enkindles between Mohan and Gita who support each other to bring every form of development to the village.
In addition to the strong themes and powerful acting by Shahrukh Khan as Mohan and Gayatri Joshi as Gita, the various songs give the audience a new perspective. The songs infuse patriotism and love for one’s country. The cinematography and technical developments make the movie complete and refined.
Furthermore, the character of Mohan from Swades is similar to that of Bhuvan in Lagaan. While Bhuvan gets the entire village to play a cricket match with the British Officials so that they don’t have to pay tax for three years, Mohan brings the entire village together to generate electricity. In both his movies, Ashutosh Gowarikar brings patriotism in small but meaningful ways. He is successful in driving home the fact that the country always comes first. He infuses the spirit to fight for the development of our country. Moreover, he plays around Mahatma Gandhi’s idea of, “Be the change, you want to see.”
‘Swades’ acts as the catalyst to inform the audience of the battle fought by the rural areas against caste systems and social divide. In addition, it provides the audience with the thought of taking their own little step towards development. All in all, ‘Swades’ is a fascinating mix of themes, songs, romance and powerful acting that makes it worth a watch.
The Censor Board of India has rated ‘Swades’ U/A. It was released on 17th December 2004. The running time of the movie is 3 hours and 30 minutes.