Udaan starts of with a bunch of youngsters sneaking away from their boarding school (Bishop Cotton in Shimla) to go watch a film in the local town. They are caught and expelled, and Rohan (Rajat Barmecha) the hero of this film, returns after eight years to a father he hasnít seen in a long time. Reaching home to a cold reception, motherless Rohan finds that he now also has a six year old step-brother, Arjun (Boradia) the issue from his fatherís second failed marriage.
Rohan's authoritarian father Bhairav Singh (Ronit Roy), is a cruel task-master and enrolls artistically inclined Rohan into an engineering college, and also makes him work part-time at his factory. The only light in Rohanís blighted life is his childless Uncle (Ram Kapoor) and Aunt, who attempt to give Rohan and Arjun the parental love their biological father seems devoid of. Deriding and mocked by his father for his dreams of being a writer, which in his book is akin to being a loser/wimp/unmanly, it looks like Rohan is caught in an unending nightmare, his escape blocked by concerns for his little brother. Will he ever have the courage to break out?
This is a very moving film because it puts out plainly on screen our inner selves and the desire to be appreciated and applauded by our first role-models, our parents. Faced with a cruel parent, and placed in an unsupportive environment, the protagonist must find the courage and the gumption to do the right thing. And really, what a difficult thing it is to even think of defying a parent, that hallowed being whom we are socialized to look upto and obey, especially in the Indian context.
Motwane directs deftly and manages to portray Rohan and Arjunís story very poignantly. This is a difficult tale to tell without appearing to take sides, and Motwane does even out the scales by giving us glimpses into Bhairav Singhís life and the events that have turned him into what he now is. The film explores an abusive environment, as Rohan's father goes from appearing "strict" to tipping the scales at cruel. Since we are basically dealing with children in this film (Rohan is 17 on the verge of becoming an adult, while Arjun is only 6), and issues with kids being the tear-jerkers that they are, the director must walk a fine line in portraying emotion without making a it a soppy tear-fest, and appearing to milk the innocence of children, and I am happy to report that Motwane does pass muster. I must also applaud the script and screenplay, since both are of superb quality and help make this film what it is.
A great part of the film of course are the actors, and here we have a few accomplished ones. Barmecha, as Rohan, is a fine actor as is Boradia as little Arjun. Ronit Roy returns to the big screen again as bitter Bhairav Singh, and Ram Kapoor plays his supportive chacha's role to the hilt. The film has Amit Trivediís soulful music and some great spoken poetry, all of which contribute to the experience.
Do not miss Udaan; if there is one Hindi film that you do watch this year, this should be it!