How often happens to you that you are re-watching your favourite movie and suddenly, some of the scenes hit you with a different meaning? I was watching the second half of the iconic movie “Swades” which I remember I saw with my parents in the early 2000s.
Rewatching three scenes gave me goosebumps and a new realization.
Scene-1: Mohan drinking the water in the mud cup while on the train
In the movie, until that point, you see Mohan Bhargav (played by Shah Rukh Khan) drinking only bottled water. It has shown very subtly by the director as Mohan ensures he takes his bottled water everywhere he goes due to hygiene reasons. When Geeta asks Kaveri Amma why she is sending Mohan to collect rent from a poor farmer, she answers, “I know what I am doing”.
In the return journey, Mohan starts to reflect upon his observations & conversations with the poor farmer. When he sees a poor boy selling water for 25ps, his eyes moist, and he gets what it means to be in Swades. He finally drinks the water, which becomes the story's turning point. The entire scene is conveyed through emotions, expressions and nothing else. That’s the power of screenplay for you!
Scene-2: When Dadaji passes away holding Mohan’s hand
Dadaji (school principal) has been struggling to give open education to everyone (all casts) for all his life. When he sees the rigour, dedication and passion in Mohan to make the change (something he has been trying to bring himself for a long), he finally starts to get hopeful. In the scene when Mohan finally brings the electricity into the village, Dadaji is now fulfilled to give the baton to Mohan while counting his last moments.
This moment is where Mohan realizes that it’s not just one project but he has a bigger responsibility — leadership.
Scene-3: When he meets Geeta final time before leaving for NASA
On this departure day to the USA, Mohan could not meet Geeta among the villagers. He finds her on a small bridge that goes over a canal. This scene depicts the two-mind situation of both Geeta and Mohan as they make their respective difficult decisions.
I find the location of this scene such a tribute to their mental state. That’s the power of direction and screenplay.
Of course, you need to watch this amazing movie to get these references. Another hidden gem is the song “Yeh jo des hain mera”. Every patriot will get goose-bumps while listening.
Films like these define patriotism beyond the “hate-xx nation” narrative. Very rare these days!