Review - Summer 2007: We really need to wake up to these issues!
Sure, we can choose to close our eyes once again to the farmer suicide issue because seems so distant. But, just like we read about it in the newspapers, write about it on our blogs, we should watch this movie because someone dared to make it.
Click on the tabs below for wogma review, external reviews, user reviews, and twitter verdict
The movie opens with a man standing in the middle of a lush green farm. And when you realize he is going to commit suicide, the contrast between the rich field and the poor man hits you like a bolt. No people, this is not a spoiler, it's a true life story. It's the story of over 150000 farmers who've killed themselves. We've already read about it in the newspapers. But now that we have a visual it will stay with us for a while.
Another contrast strikes when this scene cuts to three men behaving like boys. Arrogant and "kewl", Carefree and irresponsible, wannabe and dependent (Sikandar, Arjan Bajwa, and Alekh Sangal). Yes, the characters of the three friends are defined in these 5 minutes. Similarly, the two lead women, one an epitome of all things motherly, the other almost the exact opposite are etched out for us in the next 10 minutes (Gul Panag and Uvika Choudhary). Later, when we are introduced to the village doctor (Ashutosh Rana) too, we can sense how despite his helplessness, he's trying to help in the best possible manner.
Most of the credit for these clear definitions goes to the writing. The casual and aptly light lines in the beginning are of course done justice to by their delivery. But, somehow, there is a heavy tinge of artificiality in the performances except for those by Gul and Ashutosh. Gul is the cute momly figure we love to annoy and has a breathtakingly well-performed scene in the last half hour. Ashutosh Rana's performance shows a new facet of his talent. It is refreshing to see him in a non-villainous, soft role. Again kudos to some well-written scenes.
The transformation of these city based, hip, largely insensitive youngsters into working towards to a cause happens gradually and not ungrudgingly. However, all's not well as far as writing is concerned too. Uvika's and Alekh's roles are underwritten and lack depth after the initial exposition. Their motivations are not clear and because of that, I got the feel that maybe the movie could've done without them. Also the movie could have saved precious 20 odd minutes by keeping the absolutely dispensable songs out - both in terms of the music itself, and the way they are picturised.
I could also make observations about things like Sikandar's cringed nose and squinted eyes. But, I would then lose focus on what the movie is trying to aim at. One would be absolutely right to say that none of the departments of film-making seem to have been delved into 100% - be it writing, acting, or other technical aspects like camerawork or editing. But, full marks at attempting to describe the complex issues involved in the farmer suicides.
Yes, there are a whole load of sub-plots, but each one shows a different link in the chain of events that leads to the ultimate breakdown of the farmer who grows us our daily rice and dal (lentil curry). At many points in the movie, I was wondering why is this movie being targeted towards the multiplex audience when the issues they are trying to resolve are situated in a land far, far away. And that is THE point.
It is aimed towards me and you, browsing the net looking for reviews of the latest release. It is to sensitize us to what's happening out there or rather in there, in the interiors of the country. It doesn't offer any earth-shattering, practical solutions. In fact it alludes to the fact that we are intelligent people out here. Why don't we do something? What? How? When? That's for us to figure out. They have given us the why.
Maybe one of the solutions is to have us do rural training as a part of our education - why only medical students? Engineers, managers, accountants, artists can contribute too. Is it that farfetched? It's not that impossible to reach out to our sensitivity, is it? Of course, the going is hardly going to be easy. The most righteous of us will be wronged, but the most unsympathetic can also be made human.
I am thrilled. Thrilled that new things are being tried in Hindi cinema. Be it, the narrative style in Aamir or the most abstract use of metaphor in No Smoking or a theme that moviemakers wouldn't dare touch with a yardstick like in Summer 2007. All of them have commercial doom written all over them. And not just because of the way they are made, but I'm sure even on paper, the people involved knew very well that it's not going to make moolah. But, it is their urge to tell their story that brings these stories to us. Of course, I would be even more thrilled if Aamir and Summer 2007 did well at the box office. But I'm glad that the unlikelihood of financial success didn't keep the movies from being made. And at the very least Summer 2007 serves as documentation of how things were in India in the '00s and how we reacted to them.
- meeta, a part of the audience
Mild spoilers in this section
- Violence: A fair measure of violence. One hospital scene where the glimpses of the surgery are shown.
- Sexual content: A couple of strong rape scenes. While there is no crass sexual innuendo, the canteen conversation is between boys who have little respect for anything, let alone women.
- Concept: The concept of farmer suicides is way beyond the understanding of a 10-12 year old. While I understand that we would like our older children to be aware of social issues, I think they would need to be prep'ed against the shock that the visuals might bring.
- General Look and Feel: While there are light moments through most of the film, the jokes borderline adult jokes. Also the ultimate feel of the film is very serious.
Summer 2007 - Movie Details
- Official Sites: Facebook Wikipedia IMDB
- Banner: Adlabs
- Producer: Atul Pandey
- Director: Suhail Tatari
- Lead Cast: Razak Khan, Gul Panag, Uvika Choudhary, Uvika Choudhary, Alekh Sangal
- Supporting Cast: Vikram Gokhale, Sachin Khedekar, Prashant Narayanan, Shweta Menon, Ashutosh Rana
- Story: Bijesh Jayarajan
- Screenplay: Bijesh Jayarajan
- Dialogues: Ritesh Shah, Ritesh Shah
- Cinematography: Attar Singh Saini, Attar Singh Saini
- Editor: Bobby Bose
- Background Score: Gourav Dasgupta
- Action Choreography: Javed Eijaz
- Choreography: Ravi Botalje
- Music Director: Gourav Dasgupta
- Lyrics: Vibha Singh, Ujjaiyinee
- Costume Designer: Lovleen Bains
- Facebook Page: Link
- Running time: 160 minutes
- Reviewer: meeta
- Language: Hindi
- Country: India
- Genres: Docu-drama, Social