There are movies that teach, like ‘3 Idiots’. There are movies that make a call for action, like ‘Rang De Basanti’. There are movies that show the so-called reality, like ‘Chakravyuh’. And then there’s ‘Rajdhani Express’, a movie that does all of that without getting all loud-and-shouty about it.
Crisp editing, strong compelling shots and an intriguing narrative have you gripped right from the start as the story follows a loosely non-linear timeline, with flashbacks of the past and memories of the protagonist Keshav, played by tennis ace Leander Paes, woven in seamlessly.
The story is simply what happens when four people, from different backgrounds and walks of life, share a first class compartment in the Rajdhani Express, traveling from Delhi to Mumbai.
Much of the movie features just these four characters and is perhaps a subtle indication of the interaction between the classes in India. Strong dialogues and a neat background score help the movie move along at a steady and convenient pace, while the lack of distractions like unnecessary songs or meaningless sub-plots help keep it on track.
There are, of course, flaws too. Some of the actresses are unconvincing and there are times when the explanations given to create a situation aren’t perfectly in tune with the world of logic. The plot-line, furthermore, seems to move along in a vaguely random manner.
There’s no explicit call for action, no cry for justice or demand for change made, but as the final credits roll, there is a strangely stirring urge to change our entire system and care about what’s happening in India today.
Existentialism rarely translates to a good Bollywood movie, but this is one rare exception. It helps that the story seems to go nowhere in particular and it isn’t a suspense thriller.
And perhaps it’s the unapologetic nature of the script and the characters or perhaps it’s the way a subconscious message is delivered without someone screaming it in your face, but ‘Rajdhani Express’ works because it makes you reflect and think without really asking you to do so.
If you like to reflect and want to watch a refreshingly thought-provoking movie, go watch it.