4.0, South Asia


#9: Udaan byVikramaditya Motwane. In the ten days leading up to the 83rd Annual Academy Awards, I listed my ten favorite films of 2010, each accompanied by a custom Criterion Collection cover inspired by Sam Smith’s Top 10 of 2010 Poster Project.

2010 / Vikramaditya Motwane > If the astounding box office success of the glossy yet heartwarming 3 Idiots can be attributed to the Indian populace wanting to believe in a life outside strict academia and careers in medicine or engineering, Udaan takes it a step further by integrating reality into the mix. The former succeeded by broaching the subject in a comedic manner, but had a sizable mistake in having a central character of extraordinary talents that limited identification. But in Udaan, Rohan, a good-natured 16 year old boy recently expelled from school, is an everyman. And we soon find that his dreams of being a writer are to be quelled after reuniting with his estranged father.

Flight, as the title translates, is about Rohan breaking free from what society had made him believe was important and necessary. It’s hard not to call his actions landmark in Indian cinema, especially for a film coming out of the Bollywood system (with both Motwane and writer Anurag Kashyap being successful with 2009’s Dev.D). For an industry that still finds full-on kissing controversial, the themes expressed here should theoretically create absolute outrage. Unlike the birds and the bees, family relations are too entrenched and rarely discussed about in such a candid manner. What the Western societies have debated in mainstream cinema for ages is once again being pushed out into the wild in India, signaling many of the great local directors of the past (think Ritwik Ghatak or Satyajit Ray) whose works have been lost on the masses. The ideas in Udaan aren’t particularly original, but how it approaches relations between fathers, sons and brothers is one worthy of discussion. Appreciation of the ending will depend on one’s moral compass, yet there’s something undoubtedly brave about it—for both the filmmakers to attempt such as well as the characters within.