Udaan (2010) by Vikram Aditya Motwane

Udaan by Vikram Aditya Motwane is a drama about a father-son relationship. The son hasn’t seen his father in 8 years, after being abandoned by him at a hostel. The two reunite after he is kicked out of the hostel for his repeated misdemeanours. However, his father is the embodiment of toxic masculinity—a drunk who is abusive, devoid of love and filled to the brim with self-loathing and hatred.

What separates Udaan from most mainstream cinema is also perhaps its only shortcoming. The film is incredibly serious and gritty in its narrative. So much so, that even the most lighthearted scenes feel weighed down, making it difficult for the viewer to get at ease with the experience. This is probably intentional on Motwane’s part. Making the audience experience what the characters are feeling. While effective, this does make the viewing an exhausting experience, wherein you really just want to get to a conclusion. Again, this might be intentional, for it is also what the protagonist seems to desire.

The counter-argument for not writing the story in this manner is perhaps best made by the classic ‘Dead Poets Society’. The film deals with a similar relationship. However, it is constantly undercut by the legendary Robin Williams who is able to find joy in the darkest of moments. This does two things, one it shows the human ability to adapt and find cause for laughter even in sadness. And two, it charms the audience into wanting to stay with your characters longer. While Udaan manages to place me in the protagonist’s shoes, it fails to help me memorise his name for I simply don’t want to be in his world any longer.

That said, the film is well crafted. It has a good runtime, excellent poetry, nuanced performances, and gritty cinematography. The story—while dreary—is touching and unique in the Indian cinema landscape.

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