The Little Things
In the silence of the night, the flapping of a flag can be heard, its pole standing proudly above the only source of light against the dark sky. The cameras pan away from the rooftop, widening to capture the lone beams of light visible on an empty roadway. A vehicle, the origin of the only other obvious sounds in the area, cruises along the road. Upbeat, traditional music blares from its windows. Almost all within the bus are in some state of familiar domesticity; a child sleeping with his head in the lap of a parent, the parent patting his head in a physical lullaby; another quiet youngster being fed by a doting a grandfather; a young couple jocularly discussing their daughter's love of dolls with affection;and the other passengers soundly asleep in the rocking vehicle. All are moments I have experienced at some point of time in my own life, even though my country and the one on display are certainly miles apart. As the bus brakes to a stop, and the driver calls out to his passengers, encouraging them to make use of the rustic rest-stop, I can even hear the chirping of crickets in the background of the scene. Tranquil. Familiar. Comfortable.
Those are all words that came to mind as the first moments unfolded, and the bus driver climbed from his seat to the roadside. When he begins to wash his face with water, he looks like any other late night driver around the world simply ensuring that he doesn't fall asleep during the remainder of the trip. He raises the container above his head, prepared to drink, and a danger we are all unaware of ends his life in a split second. Screams of horror, and pain fill the once familiar scene and tranquil night air, and the music of the scene becomes one that incites confusion, dissonance, anxiety, in the minds of viewers. I, perhaps all of you as well, watch in stunned horror as a bus, filled with people who could have been our own mothers, grandfathers, cousins, and uncles, is ravaged by the brutality of bullets. When we understand that a small group of uniformed men are responsible for the terrible attack, I am sure I was not alone in my feelings of outrage and disgust. What had these people done? What could any of those young children on the vehicle have possibly been responsible for that made it alright for these men to raise weapons against them? Is there more to this? A terrible misunderstanding? Some misguided band of rogue soldiers? Or just the dirty fingers of politics and power-hungry men doling out fear, and despair yet again? So begins the first episode of Colors TV Rang Rasiya, striking a chord that connects all of us to what appears to be an intriguing tale. That, though, is only the beginning, for in stark contrast we are thrown into the heat and light of day.
A young girl runs through the streets of her village, chasing the ever elusive "Rukhmani"--her name for the blue butterfly that has beguiled her. While the image of that slightly visually jarring butterfly irks us, we can't help but smile knowingly at the whimsy of a young girl chasing the elusive. She is the picture of innocence, and happiness with her hand embracing a Rajasthani-styled female doll as she runs without a care in the world. Another young voice joins the excited musings of our first girl, and we hear her call for "Paro". It is then, as her voice echoes through the village, while she searches for this "Paro", that we grasp the magnitude of the situation. This Paro she calls, the one with her loose hair and skirts flapping in the wind as she chases "Rukhmani", is the daughter of the couple in the bus. It is this Paro whose name they mentioned lovingly in anticipatory visions of her pleasure at seeing their gift for her: a new doll, one that appears to have been bought to complete the family of Paro's lone female doll. The sad realisation is confirmed when Paro, in pursuit of "Rukhmani", stumbles upon a group of villagers dressed in white. In curiousity, Paro moves toward the crowd, and as she does so, we are finally told something about the men who have so cruelly shaken Paro's life. The villagers refer to them as "rakhshas", noting they are not men at all, and indeed, after viewing the scene on the road, we can do naught but agree. There isn't much time to ponder on these "rakhshas" though, for guilelessly Paro finds her way into the crowd. Her mama and mami are unable to explain the gravity of the situation, and so we find ourselves watching helplessly as the unaware child runs toward the gudi her parents had once planned on giving her. In her unwitting act, Paro finds herself confronted with the lifeless, bloodstained bodies of her parents. On a day in which her life should have been marked with delight, and the embrace of her parents, she finds instead that it has been irrevocably scarred by the loss of their lives. Interestingly enough, in another part of the state, there is one other child whose life is about to be permanently scarred on the same day. Rudra. A silent, brooding boy it appears, already the opposite in so many ways to the newly introduced Paro.
Rudra. A name that is associated with strength, and power, and one I was informed today by one of the many well written posts of this fledgling forum (forgive me for forgetting your ID poster) stands for rage. Destructive rage. The young Rudra is unhappy, and the aura of emotional weight sits heavily on his features and in his body language. Unlike his classmates, he is not reciting the day's lesson, in fact, his thoughts are nowhere near that room. Thus, we are already given a small insight into his nature; however, things evolve from there. "Rudra Bana" is enunciated in such a tone, that the viewers are left to assume that this is a name called upon often--one synonymous with "delinquency",and "trouble". Soon, we come to understand why, and as if the humiliation from the not so very "well-intentioned" teacher does not worsen Rudra's emotional load of anger and hurt, his classmate heaps another few pounds onto him. "His mother left his father", the boy whispers sotto voce, and Rudra becomes embroiled in a fierce fight. It is a few seconds into this fight that Rudra Bana is first marked in an obvious manner, joining his yet unknown partner in becoming scarred--albeit physically in this case. In a juxtaposition that I must commend the producers for, Rudra and Paro are simultaneously dragged from the scenes of their emotional distress. What makes the scene even more fascinating though, is the flames. While flames rob Paro of the emotional light, and clarity she has always known, they offer Rudra a fitting symbol of the anger and emotions burning in his soul, and lighting his home and heart. These flames give little light, and warmth to the Bana home, and cast only shadows on an already disconsolate life. Unfortunately, these shadows deepen as one more scar is added to the battle wounds that are imprinted beneath Rudra's skin. The cynical, biased words of his father in a rough battle of wills between father and son. Rudra, a boy who already appears to feel alone, living the life of an outcast, and struggling with his own demons, has his father's demons imprinted upon him, and so truly begins the story of Rang Rasiya.
I could certainly go on, but as you've all noted by now, this is mainly a summary of the initial scenes in the story which caught my attention. The above paragraphs do not begin to explain why exactly why I was so enamoured by the entire episode, and so I shall take the time to point out the things that I found interesting.
The Creatives of the show certainly managed to portray the heart of what some of us have come to consider rural life. The extra touches of community, even in a vehicle of people who have perhaps never known each other, or the emptiness of a highway in which only the sounds of the wind blowing and crickets chirping all serve to hold our attention in their simplicity. The use of night, and its often peaceful embrace when slumber is upon us, carefully created an ambience which ensured that when the moment which would ultimately impact Paro's life occurred, we would all be stunned and thoroughly invested. Even as the darkness of night, and terror faded away, we were introduced to the people who are truly affected by hapless adult actions--children. Paro and Rudra, two sides to a coin. Both made of the same material, and yet carrying completely different engravings on their faces. Both children have faced tragedy, and yet, there approaches, and outlook remain at polar opposites. Why?
Rudra. He stands as the only child from a household in shambles. His mother has abandoned both him and his father, under circumstances we may only ever hear the elder Bana's version of. In so doing, she created a situation in which an impressionable child was left to face the disappointment, and bitterness of his disillusioned father, as well as the pointing, derisive, often uncompassionate face of society. From what we have seen, he has no friends, perhaps because few want to be associated with a child from a "disreputable home", and perhaps because those who are of his age can neither understand him, nor reach out to him the way he requires. Of course, there also exists the emotional shell both he and his father wear to protect themselves against further betrayal, and in such circumstances, letting anyone in certainly does not become an easy task. It takes formidable effort, and a great deal of emotional upheaval to create, and maintain such an opening. Once we've understood those things from the very poignant scenes they've shown us, we can't help but contemplate what an effect that must have had on his sense of self and worth. In the world's eyes, he is the son even his own mother left behind. In his eyes, he is the unwanted the child, the one she forgot in pursuit of something he doesn't even understand. It's as if he was of no good, to her, and to whatever future she was in search of. That, in combination with the financial status his father's disability may have created, would definitely affect the way he functioned in school, and there are many children who cannot always balance the emotional onslaught of home life, and the pressures of academic requirements. So, while Rudra may not have been unintelligent, or incapable of controlling his emotions when goaded, there are many little things which would not have worked in his favour as he continued to grow and attend school. That brings me to one of the first thoughts that crossed my mind when I realised Rudra became a member of the BSD army. Power.
For a child who had been powerless to stop his mother from leaving him, powerless against the wagging tongues of those in his community, powerless against the riptide of emotions which sometimes made him incompetent at his school work, powerless in the weakness that his father's disability may have been viewed by outsiders and perhaps even Rudra's own mother, and finally for a child who was completely impotent against the authority of people like his teacher, the BSD makes and made sense. In a world where the colour of his father's crutch, and the hues of the flames in his home spoke of his weaknesses, the colourful BSD uniform carried with it authority, the respect that he craved, and a position which gave him power over those who might hurt him. So, while the BSD is known in other regions as nothing but bad, Rudra who perhaps already viewed himself as such, would have had few qualms about joining the notorious regiments of Bharat Surksha Dal. This of course, is if Rudra even wears a BSD uniform, for it is the power in the uniform, not necessarily the uniform itself that might have mattered. The BSD uniform acts as the perfect cinematic foil though, since it will place Paro and Rudra on equal footing in the future, i.e. they will both have to overcome preconceived notions that are attached to a specific label to unite as lovers. Two sides to a coin indeed.
Paro, the other side to the coin. She almost appears untouched in their portrayal of her young life. One could say though, that perhaps this is true. Not true that she isn't hurting, but true that she isn't as destroyed by her past as Rudra. For Paro, she has led what equates to a sheltered life, cared for by both of her parents, pampered with their affection, and their gifts. She has been shown the kinder side of life, and as with any being who has been given enough sunlight knows, shadows and darkness don't stay forever. Paro has had the certainty of happiness, and the comfort of acceptance and love. She has been and is cherished, and although she has lost her parents, even later in her life we can see that there are individuals around her who will continue to offer at least a reasonable quota of what she once experienced. As such, remaining soft, in a world where hard edges are sometimes required, is a luxury she is allowed because of the people in her life. In some ways though, this brings me back to the "she is untouched" concept. When I state this, it is not as some sort of emotionally callous fool, but rather within the context of "ignorance is bliss". She knows and understands that harshness, and bad things exist, but she has had very little contact with these things. Ergo, this has set the foundation for her to utilise the resilience that children are often gifted with, particularly because hers is fresh, and not yet strained by constant usage battling the things of life. They have basically written her as a character with enough pain to comprehend what it feels like, but not so much that she has become too warped or jaded like Rudra or his father. It therefore makes her the right person to act as the healing hand in this relationship, but I won't rule out the possibility of the angsty male character doing his own share of healing. The insidious presence of nafrat will surely affect the way they both interact with each other though, for the uniform Rudra wears, represents all that was stolen from Paro's life.
Since I have mentioned Rudra's father throughout this review and analysis, it would be remiss of me to not examine him as well. The elder Bana, would not win the father of the year award from many of us. He is human though, and so in his humanity we can understand him. Like many adults, he is compelled to deal with a heavy load. His wife has abandoned him and his child, and we can all only begin to imagine how that affected him emotionally. Perhaps he felt that she loved him unconditionally, and remain by his side, even during the rest of his time as someone with a disability. Even if he manages to overcome the hurt she has caused him, in a small community, within an often very judgemental society, derision and humiliation come in many forms which tend to cause a wound to fester rather than heal. As such, while I am sure that some part of the elder Bana loves his son, he has 1) a terrible way of displaying it, and 2) probably wants to avoid coddling his son so that he never endures the same pain that he has had to face. Unfortunately, he neither has the ability, nor the insight required to offer his son what he really needs, and that is the cocoon, and wisdom of love. I'm not going to expand on his psyche further, but a father who cannot offer his son the tools to a happy life, is one to be pitied, rather than despised in this particular case. He has filled his son's mind with a toxicity he cannot begin to comprehend, does not provide the emotional support a child needs, and can neither help him manage the stigma of their position in the eyes of the society, nor physically offer him what most fathers in their community give their children without a second thought. He is the man who plays a pivotal role in Rudra's life, but one who has no idea how to utilise it in such a way that Rudra is positively impacted. My initial opinion is that he would like to help, but could not. Let's see how long that remains intact.
The Creatives have given us a wonderful insight into child psychology, and emotional distress on a whole, everything combining to enable a better understanding of the characters as they move through the experiences of their adult lives. They've fleshed the main individuals out, and set the stage carefully for the story develop. What is left to be seen, is whether or not each episode will maintain at least a third of the story quality existing within Episode One. The continuity of the frames wasn't perfect...my eyes definitely noticed a few early bloopers, and I find that a bit disappointing since the first episode should come as close to visual and narrative storytelling perfection as possible in my opinion. The choice of music, and sound in general, throughout the episode was appropriate overall, and it had an effective impact on the story from my vantage point. The voiceover/narration was fitting in context with the historical, cinematic ambience of the episode, and I presume the show in general. The characters' voices sounded a bit too artificial at some stages to me though, and this wasn't all about the intonation of the actors and actresses, but rather that some instances seemed as if they were dubbed. There were however, a few segments that could certainly have used some work in the intonation and timing authenticity region. I know nothing about dialect accents, and so felt little to no concern there. Even a native's accent isn't perfect, I can assure you. I liked the usage of transition and juxtaposition during the introduction to the child actors' parallel stories; they were excellently done.
I have refrained from talking about the final sequence because I want to see tomorrow's episode before I begin to draft my opinion on what occurred.
Yes, I am aware that I've not talked about the doll sharing scene; however, there's only so much my poor fingers and back can handle. Let's leave it at Paro offered Rudra his first taste of what care is really like. It was a glorious, beautiful moment of one hurting child comforting another in way that none of the adults in their lives might have been able to do. Rudra, so unaccustomed to receiving any form of gentleness, didn't know how to accept it, and couldn't bring himself to risk doing so. Yet, he could not ignore the fact that a "khubsurat" ladki saw him at his most vulnerable,and did something which brought him comfort rather than pain. Also, she had to force her affection upon him, which most likely represents how much of their relationship will depend on her being the one to break past the barriers, and force-feed him love, and beauty until he is ready to take up Ultimately, an impressionable first meeting which set the right tone for any future interactions on that level.
I loved the fact that in the storytelling, one bus removed the source of Paro's happiness, and another led her to one that will someday create happiness if successfully culminated. Full circle in just one episode.
One other point to note: Since I'm not a native Hindi speaker, and am most obviously not acquainted with Rajasthani dialect, there are some things which I might have missed in terms of dialogue or interpretation. Always feel free to correct me at any point, please.
Edited by Kittya_Cullen - 31 December 2013 at 12:21pm