The unfulfilled dreams of Hazaaron Khwaishen Aisi

In the year 2005, when Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Black was opening a new wave of multiplex cinema viewing in India, a movie released in 2003 was making waves across the world with its theme of conflict between idealism and practicality. The story of a generation which saw India being pulled in a thousand directions wasn’t a box office success, but it was hailed by the critics as a masterpiece.

Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi (HKA) tells the sweeping saga of three youngsters of Delhi University, all three of them having different dreams to pursue. One is Siddharth (Kay Kay), an upper-middle class boy with embers of a revolution burning in his heart. He finds an ardent admirer in Gita (Chitrangada Singh) who is slowly getting familiarised with the Indian way of life after spending her life in England. The third part of this triangle is Vikram (Shiney Ahuja), a middle class boy who, tired of his Gandhian father’s principled life, would do anything to earn money. Gita sees her love being spurned time and again by Siddharth when he chooses revolution in a village in Bihar over his love. She decides to get married to Anil, whom she describes as a person who has everything that a woman wants. Years pass by and when Gita meets Vikram again, he has made ‘pots of money’ by being the political fixer. Gita, unable to forget her first love Siddharth, joins him in a village where the seeds of a revolution have been sown. At this moment, Indira Gandhi declares Emergency and the whole country turns topsy-turvy. Vikram’s Gandhian father is arrested and a massive crackdown takes place on the revolutionaries. Gita and Siddharth are jailed and tortured. Gita’s husband Anil comes to release her from the prison, only to tell her that he is married and happy with a child. Meanwhile, Vikram reaches Bihar in search of Gita and is tortured by the policemen under the charge of abetting the revolutionaries. Fate changes the tables of fortune and brings out the irony of life in the climax when Siddharth leaves behind his world of struggle to pursue medicine after realising that the country is not ready for a change and Vikram, now mentally retarded, stays back in the village with Gita in the midst of all the problems of the India that a bunch of youngsters once tried to solve.

In an attempt to disprove the illusion of Nehruvian socialism, Sudhir Mishra begins the movie with Nehru’s Tryst with destiny. The sarcasm is evident and this sets the tone for the movie. All the three leading actors shot to fame overnight. Shiney swept all the awards in 2006 for the Best Debut. However, Chitrangada, who was hailed by critics as a modern day Smita Patil, turned out to be a one-film wonder. With HKA, Sudhir Mishra pushed himself into international festival circuits. HKA was lauded across the world at prestigious platforms like the Berlin Film Festival, the Edinburgh Film Festival and the Commonwealth International Film Festival. HKA was hailed by Shekhar Kapoor as ‘the most significant and real film that I have seen recently and without doubt, the most important film to come out of India in a long, long time’. Ashutosh Gowarikar exalted the film as ‘Indian Cinema’s first great political epic’.
The dialouges, predominantly in English, are conversational in nature. The characters, with heavy shades of grey, depict the reactions of different sections of urban India towards the Naxal uprising. The middle- class reaction of Vikram comes out as he says disgustingly to Gita that Siddhrath can afford to join the revolt as he is born to a rich father and can return once he wants to give up. Gita, largely apolitical in the beginning, laps up the struggle, initially to please Siddharth and later to seek self-actualisation. Though Siddharth begins as the show stopper in this murky drama, the climax turns the fortunes and pushes Vikram to spotlight. One gets goose bumps watching Shiney groan in pain and fright in the climax scene as he is beaten up black and blue by the constables.
But somewhere it is Gita who forms an invisible thread, holding many lives and scenes together in this movie. Her adoration propels the heroism of Siddharth. Within the parameters of his social constraints, Vikram tries his level best to win her love and finally even loses his sanity in a bid to save her. Her husband desperately tries to get her back, though she eludes him like a mirage. She becomes the temptress who puts the lives of those around her out of place, though she is not the purpose of this drama. Chitrangada cast her web of performance with alacrity and makes this a role of a lifetime.

The highlight of the movie was the music by Shantanu Moitra, set to the lyrics of Swanand Kirkire. Be it the spirited qawalli Man yeh bawra, the plaintive notes of Hazaron Khwaishein aisi or the heart-rending climax song Bawra Man dekhne chala, the music brings out the cream of the moments. One feature that stands out is the expression of the state of mind of the characters through letters rather than boring monologues. The decadence of the era is caught very well by Mishra and he even keeps in mind the music tracks blaring out of the radios and tape recorders. Watch out for Mukesh’s rendition of Woh Subah kabhi toh aayegi as Siddharth and Gita share their ideas on an impending revolution.

HKA is a tale of unrequited dreams, though the zest to fulfil them remains alive till the end. Sudhir Mishra once said “All my films are about people who failed and who lament that failure and recover their ways. I think people are heroes only some of the time ….” Therein lies the bitter fact of HKA. The protagonists are muddled in their heads but are full of passion. They fight and the less resolute ones even run away from the battle towards the end. In the words of Gita, “Not every story lives happily ever after…” The undying passions of HKA might have never seen the end of their dreams, but the movie stands for a dream that a generation once lived and even died for…

6 thoughts on “The unfulfilled dreams of Hazaaron Khwaishen Aisi

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  1. You have given a wonderful review of the movie. Very Nice…

    however, this makes me to write about the thing I always say whenever I talk about HKA. I Hate Siddhartha’s and somewhat even Gita’s character. and though, you write-up does not give a lot of respect to Vikram’s characters, I appreciate him a lot, finding him the only genuine person in the whole drama.

    You’ll get hundreds of people who will tell you what the problem is. they’ll be moved by the pains of others and will even get ready to sacrifice their own pleasures for the deprived ones. They’ll have a dream for them – a vision for better future.. but their biggest shortcoming – they do not know how to realise this dream.. they think that they are the ones, who are thinking about the happiness of others and so whatever way of revolution and service they are adopting, needs to be acclaimed. some of such people even die in this gung ho. But then what??? Where does it result??

    If 10000 people die for something… do they become great, just because they were dreaming?? This is the reason why I found Vikram a better character. He found ‘Solutions’. He wanted to earn money, he earned.. he helped a lot of people roaming around his life.. and the biggest proof of goodness of character… he went out of the board to help Siddhartha, who left him alone and ran away.. may be his love for Gita was a factor behind all this. but so what… didnt all the characters were guided by their love for people or principles. acc to me, Vikram was the least selfish.. though he never did any ‘selfless’ things, as did by Siddhartha and Gita!


  2. Nice Review. It makes me watch this movie.

    But I find that you have mentioned very little on Kay Kay’s performance. I think this was first breakthrough film… and then he went on to give such great performances like in Sarkar and Life in a Metro.


  3. Took me bck to the day when I saw this movie on the big screen.

    Nice use of pics complementing the narration


  4. Very nice arjun…. i admire this movie for a variety of contrasting reasons. Though its utopian potrayal of idealism isnt one of them. There are no black and white charecters in real life, so even in this potrayal of reel life all the charecters are grey. I had always felt a strange affinity with geetas restlesness and moral turmoil though all her decisions were more the musings of a whimsical love for kay kay’s charecter than any noble intention. The film has a very touching line at the end “…..and at the end it doesnt even matter” The movie aptly shows how transient all forms of human relations are.


  5. Very Nice review arjun.. However I would agree with “Cinderella's” comments.. I too appreciate Vikram (Shiney's) Character more than the other two.. For me practicality wins over idealism.. Any body can talk about idealism.. but end of the day.. only being practical counts..


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