Posted by: Tanmoy Chakrabarti | April 27, 2011


After a while, I sat down and watched a film the other day. The film, Udaan is directed by Vikramaditya Motwane and is written by Vikramaditya Motwane and Anurag Kashyap. In summary, Udaan is a story of a teenage boy, Rohan who after being expelled from a premier residential school in India goes back to his hometown to live with his father whom he has not met for eight years. The story is about Rohan’s experience in his hometown, his relationships with his father, his very young step brother (whom he did not know), his uncle and his friend. Details of the story can be found on Wikpedia link but here I would like to make certain specific comments as to why I recommend Udaan.

Udaan is a realistic film. Normally films on such issues as parental abuse of children are seldom made and even if they are made they tend to be sugar coated. Udaan has no sugar coating clichés in it. The director has ensured that in making a demon out of Rohan’s father, he does not go overboard. To my mind, he has successfully done that. Parental abuse is a big issue in India which often goes unnoticed. Starting from putting pressure on academic choices, to being successful in reality shows, to joining the family business and to getting married – parental abuse comes in all forms. Udaan narrates one such story with much aplomb- enough to leave an impression. There is a tendency by directors to trivialise issue-based films as they look for a wider audience. Despite having younger people as their main protagonists Udaan remains a film directed towards adults and rightly so.

I have heard stories of many such fathers as has been depicted in Udaan. While every parent thinks that they are doing everything “right” for their children, the reality is far from that. Hence, Udaan should definitely sound an alarm bell to such people. Problem however is parents are so overconfident about their parenting abilities, that I shall perpetually remain sceptical about the ringing the alarm bell part!

Another thing that impressed me about Udaan is the way the director handled the poignant moment with the light-hearted ones. The films basic premise is very sad. However, in all the sadness the film does not forgets to highlight the fun and frolic. Whilst the purists may find Rohan’s character as a ill-mannered teenager but to my mind, Rohan does represent a normal teenager and hence the kind of thing that excite him are normal too. At least, I for one wished to do most of those things which Rohan wanted to do.

The use of music and poetry in Udaan is innovative. Though I did feel the kind of poetry Rohan wrote in the film was perhaps a bit mature for his age but then I do not have much knowledge about poetry. To me the words were beautiful and the usage perfect. The songs were good but though they were part of the background music, I thought we could have avoided a couple of them. Especially one towards the end of the film was a bit of a stretch.

Now comes the acting. Every actor in Udaan looked their part. Ronit Roy who plays Rohan’s father is excellent. He deserves all the acting honours for such a superb portrayal. I am surprised he spends time acting in mindless television soaps. He is calm, cold and disturbing. In fact, he reminded me of another character of an abusive father played by Amrish Puri in “Suraj ka Saatwa Ghoda”. However, I reckon Ronit in Udaan is much more real than Amrish Puri was. The two youngsters who play Rohan and Arjun (Rohan’s 6 year old step-brother) are superb too. Though Rohan had the benefit of an author-backed role but Arjun’s portrayal was praise worthy. I think every character under-played their roles to perfection. None was too loud and that is why I liked their acting in Udaan. There are scenes (the one between Rohan’s emphatising uncle and Rohan) where there aren’t any words spoken – those scenes are executed perfectly.

In all, Udaan is a good film and to me a must watch. The pace is good and so is the story. It is on an important and topical issue. It does not preach anything and does not have lengthy discussions or discourses. It just narrates a story and keeps you thinking.

Strongly recommended.



  1. Udaan is not only a very well-made film but a very relevant and disturbing one. Unfortunately I don’t think, judging from past experience, that it will make the slightest difference, socially speaking. That is because when people watch movies in this country, they just want to while away the idle hour – they don’t take back ideas to ponder over. Neither parents nor youngsters will think that Udaan had a message for them, a very serious message that should make them reflect and wonder about how they should be looking at themselves and trying to become better human beings.

    The problem of parental oppression, of course, is not only very grim and widespread in India, but to my mind it has actually grown worse over the last thirty years. It is true that some children, driven to the wall, do turn around, attack their parents and then leave for good, as Rohan does here. But far more common than the kind of brute oppression that the father exercises here, it is a kind of insidious pampering-combined with threats and blackmail that most of our parents use – do what we say and we shall shower you with goodies, otherwise you will be breaking our hearts, and what will people say, and remember you are too young either to think for yourself or take care of yourself (I personally know lots of youngsters, even males, who have been mentally emasculated into believing that they cannot fend for themselves even at 30!)… And it works miraculously, to the extent that by the time the children have grown up (I am handling the second generation now), they have become clones of their parents.

    I have been telling children all my teaching life that just as they can’t be always right, neither can their parents, so they should not take every kind of stupid and cruel imposition lying down. The price I have had to pay is that among a certain section of parents in this town, I have acquired the reputation of a bad man whose mission is to turn children against their parents. And I am sure this would have happened in any other town in India. So Udaan matters very deeply to me, but only in a sad and bitter way. As a character said in Rang de Basanti, nothing’s going to change, not at least for the better.

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