Sunday, August 19, 2007

Ghulam: The slave

Ghulam was a movie that won accolades for both Aamir Khan and Rani Mukerji. I was watching it again when it was coming on TV for the Nth rerun, and there are many scenes that are very gripping. It is somewhat different from the normal romance brand of movies. Released in 1998, and directed by Vikram Bhatt, the story of a Mumbai tapori had a charm in its own sense.
The title of the movie is played in 2 ways, one is about Aamir no longer remaining a slave and breaking free, and the second is when this rebellion finally inspires the long-subjugated and yet somewhat rebellious nukkad (neighborhood) to finally join Aamir in his rebellion against the local thug.


The movie is essentially about these 2 brothers, Jai (Rajit Kapoor) and Siddharth (Aamir) who live in a local basti (neighborhood). They are the sons of a former freedom fighter who has tried to bring them up with morals, but who has hidden a terrible guilt about betraying his former friends to the British under duress. When Siddarth was young, his father was visited by a former colleague who berated him for this treachery, and this caused him to commit suicide.
Now, both of them work to some level for the local goonda and former boxer, Raunak Singh (Sharat Saxena). Jai advises him in a financial and strategic way, since Raunak wants to get out of this low level earning stream, and enter the world of executing contracts for the state, something that will catapult him into a higher league of earnings altogether. For this, he needs that there should be no controversy around him now, but he is essentially of a hard and ruthless nature who brooks no opposition. Siddarth is an aspiring boxer who does odd work for Raunak Singh, but is otherwise a good for nothing guy.
One day, he comes across the motorcycle gang of Deepak Tijori and defeats him in a game of death, a famous sequence where they have to run against an oncoming train, and the person who jumps aside the last wins. He also gets attracted to Rani Mukherjee, who also starts falling for him. There is a famous song called 'Aati Kya Khandala' that became the rage after this movie.

Then he meets the person who eventually causes a change in his life. He meets a guy called Hari, who is a social worker, and becomes friendly with him. Hari starts coming in the way of Raunak Singh, and eventually they use Siddarth's friendship to call Hari for a meeting, and then kill him. This creates a sense of guilt in Siddarth's mind over his own role, further inflamed when he learns that Hari is Rani's brother and she is grief-stricken.
The rest of the movie is essentially about how he works up the courage to confront his own guilt, break the chains of slavery that bind him to the don (even when his brother confronts him), and eventually loses his brother as well. Mita Vashisth, who plays a social worker, plays a strong role in trying to get him to do what is right.
The movie finally culminates in the final confrontation, also for me, the favorite part. There is a fight in the end where Siddarth has to confront Raunaq, and also inspire the locality to fight back. Sections of this part seem a bit unbelievable, and the make up on Aamir's face (blood, etc) seem a bit over-done, but for me, this is the essence of the movie. The slave, when awakened, fights back with a ferocity not seen otherwise.

No comments: