wogma rating: Beg or borrow, but do watch (?) - At the very least watch it when it releases on DVD
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.Read more
NOT A REVIEW - Just looking at what we have next...
A quick glance through the official site tells you that Summer 2007 is about 5 young doctors from the city who go to the village to do their rural training. It certainly sounds different.
According to the director,
It is a tale of these five self-centered, fun-loving and ignorant youth who go through their metamorphosis.
Hmmmm..."metamorphosis"....I find transformation in characters very interesting. Is it one incident, is it a series of smaller ones. How much is just told, how much is shown using dialogue, situations, acting?
And then, he adds,
The protagonists never lose their humor and exuberance throughout the struggle and keep the momentum upbeat.
And the producer says,
Cinema to me is either about provoking a serious thought or to mindlessly entertain. With Summer 2007, I could probably be held guilty of entertaining and provoking a thought at the same time.
Oh nice! The last time this happened was in Lage Raho Munnabhai. If Summer 2007 turns out to be anything like that, what awesome entertainment that would be!
Another interesting aspect is that almost all the cast and crew are debutants or relatively new. The producer says,
One is extremely fortunate to be entering in to the film making business at a time when the cinema is changing and one wishes to carry the trend forward and also contribute to make it irreversible....It is changing because more and more people from the film industry as well as the audience are willing to experiment with unconventional stories, actors, technicians, soundtrack, etc... ...I compliment myself to be choosing to work with extremely talented and competitive new actors and technicians.......actually the list goes on and on.
Here's looking forward to something fresh this Friday...
- meeta, a part of the audience
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
So-So, by Fatema H Kagalwala, Business of Cinema : ...A more celebrated casting would have added value and credibility to the already uphill task of engaging uninterested consciences to a cause that is but a small news item in the daily papers.... full review
Thumbs down, by Daliya Daspurkayastha, Bollywood Mantra : ...The film has been directed nowhere and the message that it tried to convey was very confusing and went above the head of the audience.... full review
Thumbs down, by Rajeev Masand, IBN Live : ...may have had an interesting germ of an idea, but it's so loosely written and so poorly directed that in the end it just reminds you of what detention felt like in school.... full review
Twitter reviews for this movie are not available.
This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.
Five final year medical students end up in the innermost parts India as a part of their rural training. What they see there in the Summer of 2007 and how they react is what we watch in this almost 2.5+ hours movie.
Mild spoilers in this section