I think 'Hazaaron Khwaaishen Aisi’ is a grown up version of 'Rang De Basanti'.
At the outset the filmmaker establishes a distance from the characters and the action. The events that have been chosen are at a point in time more than thirty years ago, and this additional distancing makes for an ironic detachment which is entirely missing in the other film. Even the characters view their motives and emotions with detachment. Geeta and Vikram sometimes speak of themselves as if they are characters in a fairy tale: ‘Once upon a time there was this young girl who believed.’
Thousands of people think they can change the world. They get attracted by ideology and the idealism of ideas. Courage and sacrifice are very attractive, as is the thought of suffering in the name of a cause: as long as they all remain abstractions.
What happens when ideals come up against actuality is shown without flinching. Interference with the existing power structure in the villages makes fugitives of the young group of activists. They are forever on the run from a corrupt and antagonistic police force, local administrators and politicians. The women are battered and raped, and the men are brutally beaten -- one of them, until he is almost brain dead.
There is no glory.
There are no heroes.
There are no absolutes and there are no solutions.
The age-old problems continue to plague the villagers. There are powerful oppressors to be battled with in the world outside and raging self-doubt and guilt to tackle within the mind. Those who have the courage of their convictions need not be the most articulate people.
Courage, honesty : these are not qualities that are always rewarded. They are just qualities you may or may not have. If you have them, you will do what your heart tells you to do. The real test comes at the moment when your existence is threatened. And at that point of time, there are no heroic solutions. There is only one thing; the nearest escape route, whether it is the phone number of a ‘contact’ or a wad of currency thrust in the face of your attackers.
Nothing makes a difference to the system at large.
The only difference, at the end of it all, is within the minds of the characters, when they achieve self-realization. And though they have all changed, they are back to being their core selves. They are, each one of them, ultimately true to type.
What elevates this film to a higher plane is this, the self-mockery, the self-realization and the acceptance of the futility and the transience of it all when viewed in the larger perspective. The realistic handling of situations doesn’t leave us with filmi types of heroes and martyrs.
The dignity of human endeavour is never belittled. That is why I believe this film really celebrates the human spirit.