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Hazaaron Khwaishein is overwhelming!

By Sukanya Verma
April 15, 2005 19:33 IST
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A still from Hazaaron Khwaishein AisiThe rush of youth defies description. It has to be experienced. But the outcome of its impulse and conviction of its ideology is what defines every individual's coming of age.

Sudhir Mishra's Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi reflects the intensity and fate of three young characters, who start out on the same platform but board different trains and reach a destination of their own making.

It could be the story of three ordinary, or not so ordinary, people, depending on the given circumstances, if the setting of this drama wasn't such a crucial time in history.

The late 1960s and early 1970s were turbulent times -- angst filled and strife scarred. It was the time of Vietnam, of flower power, of the Emergency and the rise of the Naxal movement in India. And a booming population of restless youth was eager to wage war against anything that curbed idealism.

Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi digs into a section of this crazy chapter of history through its three protagonists – Siddharth (Kaykay Menon), Geeta (Chitrangada Singh) and Vikram (Shiny Ahuja).

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The three study in a prestigious Delhi college and come from different stratas of society. In the beginning, the three friends are carefree and desultory. But as they get out in the real world, they learn the ropes of survival.

Siddharth dreams of revolution. He becomes part of the Naxal movement in the villages of Bihar. His emotional attachment to Geeta doesn't stop him from his political pursuits.

Post-college, Geeta is married to an IAS officer but she continues to see Siddharth on the sly.

Vikram too has always nursed unconditional love in his heart for Geeta. But that's all there is to his soft side. A small town boy once, Vikram climbs the social ladder by networking in the big league unabashedly.

Geeta ends her marriage and starts living in the village with Siddharth. This is the time in the film when Geeta's character evolves. From a London-bred girl to teaching village women, or having a child out of wedlock or asking favours from Vikram in hours of need to a lot of other gruesome realities, Geeta discovers herself.

The story movies on. The characters mature and move on. They regret. They apologise. They change. Their lives are not the same.

Hazaaron Khwaishen Aisi plays like a novel spanning a decade. While Geeta is a picture of poignancy and inspires awe, Vikram's complexities leave the viewer perturbed. There is a lot to his greyness that is unsaid and yet subtly hinted through mere expressions. He is the most mysterious of them all.

Siddharth is the most real. In the beginning, he appears to be a rebel for effect. Gradually, his seriousness about his cause unveils. Later, his aggravation at the futility of it all unfolds. His weaknesses as the man in a relationship aren't hidden either. Eventually, he changes the course of his journey. The fire of his conviction still smoulders, but the flame is missing.

The actors do complete justice to their brilliantly etched out characters. Kaykay moves you with his intensity. And Shiny is a startling improvement from the lacklustre cop he played in Karam. But Chitrangada Singh, whose face draws inevitable comparisons to Smita Patil, is definitely someone to watch out for. She is a complete natural who zaps the camera with a passionate performance.

The protagonists act like metaphors for the maddening 1970s. The rush of youth is long gone. The restrain of experience has sunk in. The whiff of a bittersweet memory lingers. But that's all it is -- a memory -- a chapter of history that has closed.

Sudhir Mishra's drama is overwhelming, memorable.

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Sukanya Verma