By Taran Adarsh,
A film like SWAMI takes you back to the cinema of 1960s and 1970s.
A simple story with simple characters, captured on celluloid in the most
simplistic fashion. Come to think of it, a subject like SWAMI is a rarity
today. In an era where commercial trappings, spell-binding visuals and
technical wizardry are used as tools to garnish a film, SWAMI is as fresh
as the morning dew.
On the flip side, SWAMI has not much to offer to viewers shelling out
Rs. 150 / Rs. 200 for a ticket at multiplexes to watch larger-than-life
movies. A story of a middle class family, with songs playing in the
background, no great visuals / sets, no masala, no sub-plots, SWAMI
caters to a really tiny sect of viewers that has an appetite for this kind of
cinema. For the wide majority, it's akin to treating oneself with boiled food,
with no spices to tempt the taste buds.
Yet, all said and done, SWAMI marks the birth of a sensitive
storyteller -- Ganesh Acharya. The film is rich in emotions and that's one
thing that can never go out of fashion.
Swami [Manoj Bajpai], Radha [Juhi Chawla] and their kid [Siddharth]
shift to Mumbai after selling off their ancestral home in a village. In
Mumbai, they get their kid admitted to a school that's patronized by
children belonging to affluent families.
Everything is going fine until Radha falls ill and is diagnosed with a life
-threatening illness. Swami starts working overtime to raise funds for the
operation, but Radha spends the entire amount on a chair that Swami wants
to possess so dearly.
Radha passes away with just one desire: The kid should settle down in
America some day. How Swami works towards that dream is the
remainder of the story.
SWAMI has an absorbing first hour. The simple story with simple
situations gets finely tuned due to Manoj, Juhi and child actor Siddharth's
true to life performances, besides Ganesh's execution. In fact, a number of
scenes make you moist eyed in this hour and you can't help but reach out
for your kerchief.
But the second hour plays truant. The story stagnates in this hour as a
few new characters are injected -- the friends at the park. These characters
are a complete put off and only act as a spoke in the wheel. In fact, this
portion should be trimmed instantly to keep the movie on the right
The writing [screenplay: Bhavani Iyer, Muazzam Beg] is interesting in
parts. If the first hour is taut, there's not much to look forward to in the
second hour. This half has two incidents mainly -- the daughter-in-law
selling off the chair and the son's trip to America. Besides these, the writers
should've incorporated a few more dramatic moments to keep the interest
Ganesh Acharya has handled the emotional scenes very well. Also, he
has drawn wonderful performances, not just from seasoned actors like
Manoj and Juhi, but also from debutante Maninder and also the child artist.
There's no scope for music [Nitin Arora, Sony Chandy] in the film and the
song or two in the background are strictly okay. Cinematography [Lenin] is
Manoj Bajpai is tremendous yet again. This is yet another performance
he underplays beautifully. Juhi Chawla is effective enough, though one
misses her in the second hour. Maninder is first-rate. The newcomer holds
his head high despite scenes with Manoj. Neha Pendse is okay. Siddharth
is adorable. The kid is sheer magic on screen.
On the whole, SWAMI is for a miniscule section of moviegoers only.
At the box-office, it'll have to rely on a strong word of mouth to stand on
Bollywood.com Rating: 2.5
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