With globalization, the world is becoming a small place and the clash between cultures is fast becoming common place. This phenomenon is being picked up in mainstream media. Indian movies like Swades show how this chasm can be bridged and that sometimes one needs to jolt people out of the negative ruts their lives have fallen into and empower them by striving towards modernity.
Swades (Homeland, the subtitle of the film is "We, the People") is a Hindi movie about a NRI (Non-Resident Indian, or as some people call them Not Really Indian), returning to India in search of his neglected nanny in an obscure Indian village. His short stay is extended when he gets embroiled in the local problems of shortage of electricity, education and the deeply entrenched caste system, besides developing a romantic interest in the local school teacher, a forward-thinking, progressive individual, somewhat socialist in outlook. Despite concerns about the social and economic chasms that exist in modern India, the two find common ground in their desire for rural development. Someone once said “Think globally, act locally”. This point is strongly emphasized in the film. The film also demonstrates the reach of Indians into the global economy by placing the lead character in the role of an important NASA project manager,
While the movie suffers from amateurish camera angles, which is surprising considering the director’s previous effort, Lagaan, received an Oscar nomination, the story is refreshing, humorous and socially relevant. Shah Rukh Khan – the leading Indian actor, who has received innumerable accolades for his work – weaves his usual boyish charm through the three and a half hour long movie (don’t let the length put you off as the movie is fast paced). The characterization and acting of supporting characters is impressive, and understandable, given their theatrical background.
The film provides a peek into the workings of the robust Indian democracy at the grass root levels in the form of the Panchayati Raj model, which are local council meetings wherein local matters are either resolved internally by village elders, and if needed escalated with the government officials by them. This model has meant significant empowerment of the common man. Unfortunately, it is also prone to abuse by powerful entrenched interests, who can be overthrown nevertheless. The movie is quick to point out that positive changes can only be made by working within the confines of the prevailing democratic system.