Sunday, April 13, 2008

Man Vs Machine - Who will win this race?

It was a beautiful evening and after doing all my chores it was time to relax a bit. I had the evening to myself as my brother had gone to his college, preparing for his impending exams. I prepared my lunch and played the movie, Naya Daur, the Dvd of which I got from the library yesterday. This was the new colored version of the 1957 Dilip Kumar-Vyjayanthimala classic.

My favourite song from the movie, Uden Jab Jab Zulfein tere

The movie was released 10 years after India's independence, when the country was going through a transition phase. India was struggling between the Industrialization of the country vs. the human factor which is the main resource of this vast country. The story like most Indian stories was also about friendship, love, jealousy, family and faith. But like most stories of that era, the movie raised some questions and surprisingly most of those questions are still relevant. The questions about man vs. machine, growing India vs. forgotten India, progress vs. human cost of that progress. As India is growing these questions are becoming more and more important. Questions which cannot be ignored if the progress has to be real.

Uden Jab Jab Zulfein tere in Black and White

Recently there have been lot of news about vegetable hawkers and small store owners threating the new organized retail sector to close down their stores. In some cases they have been successful because the Government is worried about their vote bank. The question is, who is right? Are the big corporations like Reliance ethical in opening vegetable marts across that country, where they can leverage their power to bring down the prices? Or are the vegetable hawkers wrong in closing down these big chains rather than competing with them on equal terms? What about the consumers, do they prefer buying their vegetables after some bargaining and getting some dhania for free or do they prefer to go into air-conditioned shops and buy the freshest vegetables at lowest prices?

The movie is about two friends who get divided by the same girl they fall in love with. The movie takes a dramatic turn when the village which is solely dependent on the forest industry and tongas (horse carts) for taking the passengers of the local train to the villages nearby, encounters machines. In the movie, son of the landlord of that area returns from the city and brings with him machines to replace people in sawmills. Suddenly half of the village is unemployed and the rest of the village, the tonga-wallas, face the same fate when the landlord decides to ply a bus to take train passengers to the village. Protagonist of the movie, Dilip Kumar's character, goes to meet the landlord's son to settle the isue.

Rest of the story surprised me for a very different reason. Second part of the movie was eerily similar to the movie Lagaan. Replace the Britishers in Lagaan with landlord's son, replace the Aamir Khan's Bhuvan with Dilip Kumar's Shankar, replace the cricket match with race between a tonga and the bus, and there you have essentially the same movie. I am surprised that not many reviewers were able to catch the similarity. The scene where Bhuvan accepts the bet is exactly same as Shankar taking the bet from landlord for the race. The climax cricket match with the whole village watching is again eerily similar to climax race between tonga and the bus. Ashutosh should be commended for taking the story and moulding it very smartly. But the credit for the story should goto the original writers and B R Chopra for portraying such a forward-thinking story with the backdrop of rustic village life, which brings me to another related question. Why have the so-called Bollywood moved away from the story of villages.

For a country where 70% of the population is still living in villages, its an irony that only two significant movies, Swades and Lagaan, have been village based in recent times. Is it because 30% of India is now earning more than the 70%? A cinema which had its heart in the villages of India is now catering to the NRI audience while conveniently forgetting the same people that supported it all this while. It seems the progress in Hindi Cinema has left behind the forgotten-ones. The thought makes the movie Naya Daur even more ironic. It seems men (and women) with money, foreign visas and machines have left behind the men with the plough once and for all.


Blogger Aqua said...

have you heard "it's rocking"? the remixed "tribute?" to /Uden Jab
Jab Zulfein tere'. I love this song. sets the dance floor on fire everytime.

wow. thanks for that brilliant piece of trivia. had not idea mr.gowarikar had flicked the concept of lagaan from 'naya daur' (colors has some company now :)

can't wait to watch 'naya daur' now. wonder how i missed it.

1:26 AM  
Blogger Beauty and the BEast said...

while I am impressed with the passion you have behind voicing the onslaught of technology, I cannot agree with you when you say tht the men with the plough have been forgotten once and for all!

There are people like sharad Pawar and P P Chhabria who have taken technology to the grass root level, who have educated the rural india so that they can enhance their lifestyles by embracing technology

Life is a race, some choose to compete, some lose because they lack the will to try, some emerge winners. Its all a matter of choice.

Even the everyday farmer has a choice between ploughing his field with a bullock and a rusted plough and increasing his yield with a tractor and the likes. The Government has come with a million schemes so that the farmer is not left behind.

3:18 AM  
Blogger Marlee said...

I'll have to watch the movie!

5:37 AM  
Blogger Colors said...

Wow..thats a long post...sorry but cant read the gist of it though! Must've been nice to see the movie in color ;) Though I am not a fan of movies of that time.

Sigh! As my new post will let you know, I am a lil poor right now in terms of "time". I hope someday I will get to read ur post in fursat.

Aqua, I too love that song...hehe and thanks for relating that with me. I feel much better :D

2:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

lovely review! likhte to tum jhakas ho....

2:31 AM  
Blogger Moonie said...

Ricky puttar, kiddan?? [:)]

12:04 AM  
Blogger Mavron said...

thought provoking...indeed very well written...and I have only seen that race scene from the movie,so cant really say anything thr...
even I wonder who is right...d banias ruling the roost for ever or the upcoming retail doubt wid d latent transition the old world feeling n some charm will be lost...the thing is it is for d masses to decide what is worth more...sometimes I wonder can a middle path not be found???

I am yet lost to who i am(cos I am all for change but I cant let go of the past too...greedy i guess)...time after time we come across such observations and it makes an impact..but is dat enough and does it really last long enough to be a key to change...i guess ill have to wait for d answers...

5:57 AM  
Blogger Chakoli said...


was just roaming arnd and saw ur post:-)))

Good to see that people are still watching old movies...and there are reviews to catch up...otherwise on all post you would movies reviews...comaparsion...talks....

Now about ur post:-)))

Naya daur was the most quite an mazing one of that time:-))). You talking about the comparison ....yup there is...but nobody could have thot of having a cricket match...something never in drms...of anyone...and that is what made it spl....

Nw here I never disagree that there cud not be any similarity...there you spotted... but somehow they are different...:-)))

would be back soon:-)))

3:05 AM  
Blogger Moonie said...

hey Ricky puttar, kiddan?? :) next post is long due!

10:52 AM  
Blogger Jyoti said...

your posts really take "extra time" but still you manage to make visitor read it till end.

keep writting :)

6:05 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

demanding - new posts!!!

11:52 PM  
Blogger Ricky said...

aqua - Yea, I love that song and infact put it on my ipod a day before seeing the movie.

I found that trivia only by chance while watching the movie and it was like a "Eureka" moment for

Watch it and Enjoy it...

beauty and the beast - The point of the movie was that if technology replaces even a single person's work then maybe its not worth it.

Life maybe a race but its also a choice whether you want to run or not. As far as Government schemes go, they always have a hidden agenda and if not there won't be 100s of suicides by farmers of this country.

8:32 PM  
Blogger Ricky said...

marlee - Please do and where are you? (see it rhymes)

colors - Yea, it didn't looked like the movie which was originally in black and white.

Do read my posts after you come back :D

rain girl- Thank You jee!!

moonie - Wadiya jee, tusi dasso :D

8:34 PM  
Blogger Ricky said...

mavron - Thanks :-)

I am sure India will find some kind of middle path, like it always has. We all are looking for the answer to that question.

chakoli - Welcome to my Blog!!

Yea, the similarities are uncanny but Ashutosh has done a good job of making his own story, which is indeed remarkable.

Do keep visiting.

8:38 PM  
Blogger Ricky said...

moonie - Next post up jee :-)

jyoti - Thanks Jyoti!! I will keep writing maybe sometimes with bigger intermissions ;)

anks - Haazir hain!!

8:40 PM  

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