Scene By Scene: Udaan

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An actor delivers not only through dialogues or body language but by expressions as well. A silent scene can emote what a dialogue cannot and expressions can emote what the whole character cannot. The scenes that I consider favorites remain testimony to this fact. I feel it is the facial expression and body language that make a character convincing and an actor – a good actor. There are two of them in recent films that are in the top spots. The first is from Love Aaj Kal (2009) when Jai (Saif Ali Khan) is talking with Veer Singh (Rishi Kapoor). He discusses how he has moved on and Meera (Deepika Padukone) will find someone else. The dialogues in this scene suggest a certain coolness that he feels with the idea but the facial expressions suggest how uncomfortable he is with the thought of her being with someone else.

The second one is from one of my personal favourite films – Udaan (2010).

The Scene:

In total unprecedented turn of events, Rohan (Rajat Barmecha) is out on a picnic with his uncle, step-brother (Aayan Boradia) and his father. He casually thought that the picnic idea must be his uncle’s, only to realize it was his father’s suggestion. The three and a half men are sitting on a bench overlooking a lake and it is very obvious they they do not have many things to talk about. This is when the uncle (Ram Kapoor) suggests that Rohan should recite one of his poems. Rohan’s father’s (Ronit Bose Roy) demeanour suggests that he does not think much of the idea but also that he indeed would like to hear what Rohan writes. Rohan recites a beautiful poem. While he recites, the camera shifts focus to Rohan’s father. His expressions change subtly and there is a calmness on his face that shows the audience that he is connecting to the poem. He is realizing that Rohan has talent. He is proud for a moment – an emotion that has not really been part of their father-son relationship. Rohan finishes the poem saying, “Khud dusre janam mein meri udaan choomne kuch duur tum bhi saath-saath aate.” Bound by his hardcore demeanour and to live up to what he thinks his image should be, Rohan’s father’s expressions change to that of dismissal and disapproval. He rubbishes the poem and writes off his son’s talent by saying he shouldn’t write more because no one would read his poems except Grehshobha readers (a popular Indian magazine in Hindi for women).

What’s so special:

How you communicate with your parents shape a major-major part of your personality. There may be two sets of parents – one who brag about their kids at every given moment and even at all the other moments as well. Second, are the parents who remain quiet and don’t communicate at all. Rohan’s father is a third kind. He is one of those who takes revenge on his own children due to the cold fatherly treatment he was given as a child. The scene is poignant and may make you realize how often we remain dependent on our parents for their constant approval. Many of us do not pursue our real dreams because we do not get our parent’s approval and most importantly their support.

This type of layered emotions and grey streaks in characters is hard to find and express. Ronit Bose Roy’s expressions in the scene convey the need to let go of the demons of his own past and embrace his son’s creativity. But his image is too powerful to melt easily with innocent lines of poetry. He retraces back to his image after giving an approval with his stunned facial expressions. There is hardly any dialogue, just remarkable changes in expressions within seconds. Camera work is great and Vikaramaditya Motwane’s beautiful direction makes this scene one of my favourite scenes of all.

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