Real life is boring! But, there are many who relish every moment of it and treasure these nostalgic memories for lifetime. Noble ideas, innovative thinking and positive approach always bring good results and its shows its brightest sheen when they are remarkably collaged with honest performances. Ace choreographer Ganesh Acharya’s ‘Swami’ is a brilliant example of healthy and “good-natured” cinema that decayed decades ago though after legendary performers and immortal films. ‘Swami’ works on an expressively mournful feel of “moments” when our loved ones witness a supernatural power a few breaths away from death. These everlasting moments connect by giving a loving look at the beloved ones and then leave silently. ‘Swami’ is a simple story told with sincere and honest on and off screen efforts.
‘Swami’ is an engrossing and exhaustive journey of a kind-hearted man who experiences different phases of life due to his own whims and fancies. Each phase reflects his sobriety, large heartedness and above all benevolence for his loved ones. The film picks up with cinematographic brilliance (brilliant camerawork by Lenin) that connects nature, creatures (mainly ants) with the lives of living beings. The finely tuned background score (Nitin Arora and Sony Chanda) catapults and enamors the scenic charm that surrounds the reclusive hut of protagonist “Swami” (Manoj Bajpai). The film says bon voyage to the life span of compassionate “soul” Swami from his desolate childhood days to struggling youth and thereafter to his aspiring and hopeful old age. Above all, the film has the voice over of sonorously penetrative Amitabh Bachchan as “sutradhar”.
Swami’s soulful bond with his better-half Radha (Juhi Chawla) shows the insightful and thin-skinned aspect of a sensible aspiring filmmaker. Ganesh Acharya deserves all applause for daring to swim against the tide and show his sane side of reliable filmmaker. Unlike his contemporaries Ahmed Khan (‘Lakeer’ and ‘Fool and Final’) and Farah Khan (‘Main Hoon Na’), Ganesh prefers a submissive and modest subject to show his hidden qualities of a master story teller. Ganesh had to struggle to get the desired theatres for its release and his project attracted a positive response. It can be counted as one of finest “multiplex” entertainers where the filmmaker has dared to venture into forgotten or unexplored genre. In terms of inspirations, it strikes some similarities with R K Narayan’s hilariously penned “Swami” (short stories about lively kid named “Swami”) with truthful depiction of human emotions. The film provides ample dosages of laughter and moments of gloominess in its narration and this is where the film succeeds.
It cherishes the humble innocence of Swami while picking up flowers with kids in the forest to his fascination for rolling chair (“kursi”) after being subdued and scolded in his childhood. Ganesh Acharya’s outlook of capturing innocence is remarkable and it carries forward with Anand’s (Swami’s son played by Master Siddarth Gupta) antics. The lively attitude of Anand (of traveling America with his parents) wins him his place in a convent school. Later, his innocence collides with Swami’s infatuation for “kursi” and it brings hilarious moments.
‘Swami’ runs on a dream visualized by Radha of visiting the magnanimous America after being swooned by its grandeur on the TV screen. The first half of the film presents the old-fashioned chemistry of Manoj Bajpai and Juhi Chawla with an emotional impact. Radha’s dream encourages Swami to shift to Mumbai and then the film runs on sub-plots. Radha’s illness proves a major roadblock and a big disappointment for Swami. Radha expires but Swami promises to live her dreams. Swami educates Anand (Maninder) and finally he succeeds in getting promotion in a multinational bank. Swami is overjoyed when Anand is happily married to his beloved Pooja (Neha Pendse). The marital bond culminates into fatherhood for Anand and all the dreams come true for Swami.
Anand’s life takes a major jolt when he is promoted for a job in America but without his father, Swami. There are comical moments where Swami’s neighbors (Manmeet Singh, Vijay Kashyap) bring moments of laughter in Swami’s life. It ends up on a sad note when Swami’s life is isolated after Anand’s departure to America. The last scene where he visits his vacant room in the old villa and his gifted rolling chair (“kursi”) is brilliantly conceived. It may find few admirers or takers but still shows the soulful approach of a competent storyteller.
Ganesh Acharya’s vision of selecting theatrically affluent actors (Manoj Bajpai and Juhi Chawla) over bankable stars in the lead roles shows his modesty towards the subject. The voiceover of Amitabh Bachchan in the backdrop is the second brightest aspect that brightens up his efforts. After R Balki’s ‘Cheeni Kum’, ‘Swami’ provides encouraging performances by child artiste (Master Siddarth Gupta) and the year is proving promising for child actors. Manoj Bajpai’s performance leaves an everlasting impression and his role of “Swami” is one of his momentous works of all time. His selection for the role is truly justified. The actor delivers all different emotions through his numerous get-ups. Juhi Chawla lives up to another impressive role and delivers a noteworthy performance. Juhi’s south Indian accent and her body language aptly suit the role of a South Indian Brahmin woman. Newcomer Maninder shows promise in his honest performance while Neha Pendse looks ordinary.
The screenplay by Bhavan Iyer and Muzzam Beg is chirpy, hilarious and sentimentally expressive in all phases. Music and background score (Nitin Arora and Sony Chandy) may not sound catchy in its audio presentation but are well conceived in emotional situations. Cinematography (Lenin) is the highlight as it captures the natural delights with brilliance. Costumes (Jimmy) are authentic while art direction (R Verman) supports the surroundings of the situations. Ganesh Acharya’s story and direction are praiseworthy as he impresses with his humane side rather than showing his flashy façade of a competent choreographer. ‘Swami’, an old fashioned impressive family drama, will have major takers from class audiences rather than the pop genre. If the film succeeds to hit the sentiments of an average viewer and if this is converted into “good mouth publicity”, then it can be another major surprise of the year.
In nutshell, Ganesh Acharya has delivered an appealing but realistic surprise in his debut offering ‘Swami’.
Long Live Quality Cinema!