During my schooling days in Himachal Pradesh, a fellow student wouldn't long for the annual vacations in December, like all kids generally do. I often wondered why. Much later, I was told that his stern (and over-dominating) father called the shots with a cane in hand and my friend would literally shiver at the very thought of spending the next three months with his family.
We lost touch after we completed schooling and with the passage of time, I forgot all about him. Till I watched Udaan and his face loomed large at the very start of the film. Udaan does that to you!
Poignant, unsettling and disturbing, Udaan is a brilliant take of an adolescent who has stepped into his teens and how he faces a tyrant father, a step brother he never knew existed and how he eventually breaks the shackles and frees himself from a world that's slowly suffocating him.
Udaan mirrors the real life and although the plotline is simple and uncomplicated, I must add that simple stories are extremely difficult to narrate. However, debutant director Vikramaditya Motwane remains faithful to the written material and handles the characters in the film with tremendous care, understanding and maturity. I genuinely feel that Udaan borrows something from everyone's life. And that's what makes it an absorbing watch, especially its defining finale.
Final word? This one's a must-see for every parent, every child. This coming-of-age story is unique and speaks a universal language and hence, shouldn't be missed!
After being abandoned for eight straight years in boarding school, Rohan (Rajat Barmecha) returns to the small industrial town of Jamshedpur and finds himself closeted with an authoritarian father (Ronit Roy) and a younger half brother who he didn't even know existed. Forced to work in his father's steel factory and study engineering against his wishes, he tries to forge his own life out of his given circumstances and pursue his dream of being a writer.
The best thing about (most) first-time directors is their ability to narrate a new story without bowing down to market diktats. Udaan is realistic to the core, so much so that the viewer becomes a participant after a while and feels that he's getting a first-hand account of what the troubled teen is enduring.
A number of sequences leave a stunning impact. But I'd like to single out a few that continue to stay with me, even while I write this review. Note the sequence between Rajat Barmecha and his step brother, when they meet for the first time. Also, the one when Ronit Roy and Rajat Barmecha have a confrontation at the dinner table, when the talk veers to Rajat's plans for the future. Another sequence that caught my attention was the heated argument between the brothers (Ronit, Ram Kapoor). And, of course, the finale, the culmination to the film, which will have its share of advocates and adversaries.
Actually, all through the second hour, I was very keen to know how Motwane and co-writer Anurag Kashyap would conclude the story. But Rajat Barmecha's breaking-free sequence, a redemption of sorts, is simply brilliant. On the flipside, the pacing is very slow towards the second hour. Besides, the length could've been sharpened by at least 10/15 odd minutes.
If director Vikramaditya Motwane deserves distinction marks for narrating a slice of life film with aplomb, he along with co-writer Anurag Kashyap deserves the highest praise for handling the delicate and sensitive relationships lucidly. Every character in this film - there are four principal characters - is well etched and so identifiable.
Casting the right names must've been a tough call for its makers, especially casting the two kids in pivotal parts. The seniors (Ronit Roy and Ram Kapoor) are accomplished actors with years of experience to their credit. Yet, Udaan explores a new facet of both Ronit and Ram. Ronit is super as the bully, semi-neurotic father with demons of his own to battle, while Ram underplays his part with rare understanding. The two kids, Rajat Barmecha and Aayan Boradia, are the real stars of this enterprise. Rajat seems to have got a tailor-made role and he sinks his teeth into it. Aayan, the child actor, displays the vulnerability beautifully. His tender expressions and soulful eyes convey so much!
On the whole, Udaan is a simple, straight-forward film that doesn't need to be explained. It needs to be experienced.
Cast: Ronit Roy, Ram Kapoor, Manjot Singh, Anand Tiwari