"Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom...” Sudhir Mishra in his 2005 film Hazaaron Khwahishen Aisi, stepped in to boldly and magnanimously challenge Nehru's noble proclamation. If Nehru were alive, he'd have regretted to overlook, that at the stroke of the midnight hour...
"Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom..." Nehru's eloquent speech delivered on the eve of India's much awaited independence is admirably considered a landmark of international oration - one that captures the eventual triumph of the country's lengthy walk towards freedom - until Sudhir Mishra in his 2005 film Hazaaron Khwahishen Aisi (A Thousand Dreams Such as These), stepped in, and magnanimously challenged this noble proclamation. If Nehru were alive, he'd have regretted to overlook that at the stroke of the midnight hour the world wasn't actually asleep; it was afternoon in New York City. He'd also recognize that the given moment in which they took their righteous pledge of dedication to the larger cause of humanity, wasn't as solemn as he had imagined – akin to the country's freedom pendulum that knocked down the doors to emancipation and self-discovery on one side, while the other surface pulsated with idealistic revolutions, brutal mayhems and desperate fights for a fuller ideology.
Sudhir Mishra’s HKA views in nifty details, these short-sighted remnants of India’s liberation during the after years of India’s independence in the 1970’s, through the lives of three central characters. Siddharth (Kay Kay Menon ) is a searching idealist who forsakes a privileged background for his passionate truth and becomes a revolutionary fighting for significant social transformation in the remote villages of Bihar. Vikram (Shiney Ahuja), comes from a mediocre background and makes it his vocation to dismiss such niggling revolutions, earn truckloads of money and mingle with the cream of the crop. Geeta (Chitrangada Singh) swans in as an arrestingly educated woman, madly in love with the hotheaded Siddharth and passively aware of Vikram’s unblinking love for her.
The state of Emergency, manifestation of the Naxal movement and rise of spiritual consciousness, place the three on a riotous track that leads to a barrenness of wrecked dreams and distorted aspirations. Their fates take acute turns, make them abandon their pursuits, bring in redeeming realizations and leave them indelibly changed. Siddharth’s stringent ideologies are crushed by severe government actions and its unshakeable policies. Geeta, who so far lived her life as a series of passionate shifts from being a dense lover, to chasing foreign education, and educating village women, dissolves into a stolid life in pastoral parts of the country; And Vikram, most dispassionate of politics, unjustly bears the severest brunt of them all. These characters inundate the film with their raw and rash passions, guiding us to reflections that we so often oversee – those that embrace the sparse lands of youthful politics and vigorous reasoning. The intensity of the young blooded fighting for their premier ideals - colliding with a political scene that is adamant and unyielding - rallying with a love that is impulsive and destructive.
HWA represents manifold views of its dominating era – a high-ceilinged idealistic struggle, a slaying political system, and a white & gray tinted love, all enclosed intelligently to elucidate a growing sense of awakened rumination, rather than judgmentally lashing out defects that envisaged the system in question. Although Sudhir Mishra clearly sends home the Nehruvian ideology of governance in the film, he logically establishes the question of fighting against the governing structure without definitive direction, as the director himself suggested in an interview - “The problem with these ideologies has been that they have not envisioned what they want to bring. They merely want to dismantle what exists.”
The performances of the triumvirate protagonists are unquestionably successful, with special mention of Chitrangada Singh as Geeta, who beautifully wells up those tired tears and lets out her self possessed smile, like a woman of true substance and alluring complexity. The film fittingly crafts the setting of the passé period, with every detail seeming remarkably bona fide. The pervasiveness of English as spoken language through large chunks of the film exudes an unmodified feel to the sustaining time, encompassing an elite breed of Indian society, along with an educated youth in bloom, and perfectly intersperses again with those brash Bihari backgrounds, presented with its typical tongue and bleak surroundings. But make no mistakes; this film is no weighty session on accounts of political progression or chronological history – Hazaaron Khwahishen Aisi is a finely made mosaic of relevant realities, cemented by the ties of stubborn aspirations, impassioned actions, gritty themes, and splendorous soundtracks. A film that is dominated by true and intense feelings, this is how cinema ought to be, and Sudhir Mishra chisels the same with matching emotional honesty.