Film Critique: Morning Raga
Morning Raga is a film one cannot help but admire for its musical techniques and outstanding camerawork. However, the film’s plot is sentimental, influenced by the sad events following the accident, which is the core episode that directs the actions. The movie is full of Bollywood traditions that turn the film into a series of classical Indian music performances.
Indian movies use music excessively, and this characteristic element is present in Morning Raga. Although the central story is the bus accident that thwarts Swarnalata’s musical ambitions, songs take the center-stage in this movie. The viewer feels that the film is a song the theme of which is the bus accident and the sufferings it inflicted on the main heroine. However, the bus accident has a lot of meaning in the movie. First, it is symbolic because it changes the plot of the film entirely. The expectation before the tragedy occurs is that the viewer shall see Swarnalata entertaining the city’s residents. Later, the audience stops seeing Swarnalata as a cheerful character, because she becomes a psychotic person suffering depression after her son’s death.
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Second, the accident is a symbol of irony because the viewer expects the characters to act or react by displaying their emotions after it occurs, especially considering that Swarnalata loses her son during the calamity. It also ends Swarnalata’s ambition of performing her music to audiences in the city. It is ironic that the catastrophe affects the main character and ends her musical career against the audiences’ expectation of seeing her singing job advancing as the plot proceeds. Since the accident affects a musical artist, it has a connection to the other theme of Indian classical music. Swarnalata not only suffers injuries but also loses her son, who is her best friend. Therefore, the accident is also a sign of fate. The viewer expects the characters to display their emotions after the calamity, but the film betrays the viewer’s anticipation by introducing musical performances on the stage instead of showing the actions and reactions of the characters.
Morning Raga tries to fit within the frames of a modern movie. However, it apparently fails to qualify as one. First, some of the actions of the main character (Swarnalata) lack the justification of modernity. The accident occurs on a bridge. The modern reasoning is that accidents may happen to anyone. However, Swarnalata develops weird beliefs after losing her son and the desire to create music after the disaster. She swears that she will never cross that bridge again. It becomes a symbol and source of her suffering. However, beyond such symbolism, Swarnalata’s actions are archaic and deficient of enlightenment. It becomes apparent that despite the movie’s production happening in the modern era, the actors represent India’s far-fetched and traditional thinking.
The bridge calamity affects Swarnalata for an unbelievably long period of twenty years. After all that time, she still believes that she should never cross the bridge. However, the viewer does not believe that twenty years have passed after the accident. Character design, e.g. costumes and the facial looks, is inappropriate because the viewer expects Swarnalata to appear older. Stating that she cannot cross the bridge after twenty years does not convince the viewer. It is necessary for the character’s appearance and actions to communicate the concept of time. Furthermore, it is extraordinary for Swarnalata to remain emotional after twenty years. The normal expectation is that time heals a person who experiences tragic incidents. Nevertheless, Swarnalata fails to reconcile with her past, which is not what is anticipated of her. Therefore, the viewer remains in suspense, waiting for the time when she will heal psychologically and develop the courage to cross the bridge and perform her music to urban audiences.
Some of the characters act justifiably. For example, Pinky’s decision to visit Swarnalata is motivated by the latter’s fear of the past. She cannot cross the bridge to meet Pinky. Swarnalata is also an experienced musician and Pinky wants to learn from her. Thus, thee viewer understands why Pinky must travel to meet Swarnalata. Pinky is passionate about music, but her choice to come close to Swarnalata takes Swarnalata back to the past and she becomes emotional about the bridge tragedy several years after it happened.
Despite nor being proficient in modern filmmaking, the movie has a lot of aesthetic effects that attract the viewer. For instance, there is a shot of a couple who cycles their bike alongside a convoy of other bicycles. The site is aesthetically pleasing because the characters ride with bunches of fresh bananas. The musical performances add beauty to the film because characters are present on the stage as music plays. They rehearse the music live on stage. The viewer sees Indian cultural dances on stage, meaning that it is a film with a lot of Bollywood traditions. The limitation, however, is that the movie uses a lot of stage performances and music. The cathartic effect is present and good, but the excessive musical stage renditions shift the film’s concentration from the theme of bereavement to cultural expression through Indian music and dances.
Morning Raga is too coincidental. It is hard for the reader to reckon with the occurrences because of their nature. The viewer finds too many accidents in the film. For example, besides the one that happens at the bridge, Pinky almost knocks Abhinay over. It is a fateful incident because Abhinay gets the opportunity to get to know a beautiful lady (Pinky). They leave the car for an overnight repair as Abhinay takes Pinky home and introduces her to his Dad. The film relies on the concept of fate because Pinky also lost her father during the bridge disaster. Pinky learns of the close friendship between Abhinay’s mother and Swarnalata. It is also concurrent that Abhinay has a new band and Pinky is a good singer and knows Swarnalata, the best musician of the film. One wonders why the film’s events happen to characters who have identical passions and have suffered the same fate during the bus crash.
The film becomes predictable and the viewer may not resonate with it because of its obviousness. Additionally, the plot development of the movie happens in the obvious style of Bollywood productions. The spectator expects that the characters will simply illustrate the plot using their actions. Nonetheless, Morning Raga is a performance in which the characters state or announce how the plot develops. For example, it is possible for the viewers to know that Abhinay intends to learn music from Pinky. It becomes boring when Abhinay’s father describes this aspect of the film’s development. He tells Pinky that he has heard that she is teaching his son music. He also expresses his negative opinion on this fact. Although his statement portrays conflict, it does not worry the viewer because it is obvious that Abhinay wants to learn music from Pinky.
Finally, the screenplay that the film utilizes lacks subtleness. Some of the actions do not make sense. The man who talks to a cow demonstrates the lack of intricacy in the screenplay. The audience understands that it is impossible to communicate with animals. The aim of this shot is to add comic relief to the film. However, it does not make the film funny in any way because of it is an anomaly. The audiences may only enjoy the Carnatic musical deliveries. The film is indeed rich in Indian classical music, and one can learn about the music effectively using Morning Raga.
In conclusion, the film uses a lot of Indian tradition, which undermines the modernity aspect. It has many live dances on the stage that distract the viewer from the central storyline of the accident that affects Swarnalata. Some of the actions are extraordinary, including Swarnalata’s psychological issues long after the accident and the act of addressing a cow. Plot development is also problematic because the characters state their intentions instead of illustrating them through actions. However, such an obvious style is common in Indian films. Coincidences are also common in the film, with similar circumstances surrounding the characters who relate to each other closely. It is difficult for the audiences to identify with the film apart from liking the musical delivery.
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