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Swades ( , , , )) is a 2004 Indianmarker film written, produced and directed by Ashutosh Gowariker. The film stars Shahrukh Khan and debutant Gayatri Joshi. Music is by A. R. Rahman, lyrics by Javed Akhtar and costume design by Bhanu Athaiya. The tagline of the film is: "We, the people."

Plot summary

Mohan Bhargava (Shahrukh Khan) is an NRI working at NASAmarker in a lucrative and prestigious position. He had been a student at the University of Pennsylvaniamarker, an Ivy League school with a large Asian population. After twelve years in the US, he decides to return to India to find his nanny, Kaveri Amma, with whom he has completely lost touch. Along the way, he meets a number of interesting people from the village called Charanpur where Kaveri Amma now lives; there's the village postmaster, eager to know more about e-mails and the internet, while also having a keen hobby of wrestling; the ex-freedom fighter who teaches history at the local school and is a lone voice of reason amongst the village elders; there's also a cook who harbours ambitions of opening a dhaba on a US freeway, and sees in Mohan an opportunity to get himself a visa.

While Mohan soon adapts himself to life in the village and endears himself to its people, he also encounters some of its harsher aspects. Among them are poverty, caste discrimination, child marriage, illiteracy, a general disregard for education and an apathy to change. He tries in his own way to bring about some change, even succeeding to the point of dissuading the village elders from moving the local school to smaller and far-away premises. In doing this, he earns the respect of Gita (Gayatri Joshi), a childhood acquaintance who lives with Kaveri Amma and runs the local school.

One day, Kaveri Amma sends him away to another village called Kodi to collect dues from a farmer named Haridas who has rented their land. Along the journey, Mohan realizes that the problems he had seen in the village mirror those faced by almost all other villages in the country. Haridas, the farmer who owes rent has no money to feed his own family, mainly because the villagers wouldn't support his attempts at a change of occupation from weaving to farming. Mohan returns empty-handed but resolves to take more interest in improving the quality of life of the villagers.

He enlists the support of a few hundred men and guides them through the building of a reservoir beneath a perennial spring on a nearby hill. Buying turbines and other equipment with his own money, he sets up a small hydro-electric power plant that would solve the problem of irregular electricity and make the village self-sufficient.

By then, it's time for him to leave as his project at NASA is near its final stage. Kaveri Amma, whom he had intended to take along with him, refuses to come citing the difficulty of adapting to a new culture at such a late stage in her life. Gita, whom he had fallen in love with, also refuses to come with him, wanting to remain in the country and continue running the school that her parents had founded. He returns alone but feels a growing sense of responsibility towards his country and guilt for not being able to do much for the welfare of its people. He, nevertheless, stays to finish his project at NASA before resigning and returning to India.


Swades is inspired by the story of Aravinda Pillalamarri and Ravi Kuchimanchi the NRI couple who returned to India and developed the pedal power generator to light remote, off-the-grid village schools. Producer Ashutosh Gowariker spent considerable time with Aravinda and Ravi, both dedicated Association for India's Development (AID) volunteers, Gowarikar supposedly visited Bilgaon, an adivasi village in the Narmada valley, which is the back drop of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) movement. The people of Bilgaon are credited with doing 2000 person-days of shramdaan (community service) to make their village energy self-sufficient. The Bilgaon project is recognized as a model for replication by the Government of Maharashtra.

Some film critics alleged that the film is a remake of the Kannada film Chigurida Kanasu based on a novel of the same name by Shivaram Karanth. This claim was repudiated by Swades writer M G Sathya who said that he had been working on the story since the 1980s.


The role of Mohan was first offered to Hrithik Roshan who refused after reading the script.

Swades was the first Indian film to be actually shot inside the NASAmarker research center at the Launch Pad 39A of the Kennedy Space Centermarker of NASAmarker in Floridamarker. To add to the authenticity of his film, Gowariker actually wanted to shoot the scene in the NASA space center rather than on a set. The rainfall monitoring satellite known as the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) in the film is an actual NASAmarker mission and is currently scheduled to launch in 2013.


A.R. Rahman's soundtrack was acclaimed by critics and audiences. His background score won him the Filmfare award. However, he lost the Filmfare award for Best Music Director to Anu Malik. It remains the only time he has been nominated for the award and not won.


Mahatma Gandhi's great-grandson, Tushar Gandhi noted the theme of Gandhism in the film. The name of the main character portrayed by Shahrukh Khan is Mohan, which was also Mahatma Gandhi's birth name (Mohandas or "Mohan"). The film also opens with the following quotation from Gandhi:


The film received mixed reviews from critics. Taran Adarsh from 'Indiafm' commented, "a disappointing effort from a much-hyped director. Despite the effort, there's nothing in the movie to watch. Yes, obviously Shahrukh Khan is there." He called the movie 'a lengthy documentary'. Other critics also criticized the movie for its length and content. However, after a long time mainstream Bollywood returns to Indian grassroot. Performance by Shahrukh is praised.. Jitesh Pillai from Indiatimes gave the movie four stars saying "Swades is undoubtedly the No 1 movie of the year"..

Box Office

Even though it was a good movie, it failed to make its mark on box office of Indian cinema commercially. Critics blame the storyline for the poor box office performance.It grossed total 60,000,000.

Awards and nominations

Filmfare Awards


  • Best Actor
  • Best Director
  • Best Film
  • Best Lyricist
  • Best Music Director
  • Best Playback Singer - Female
  • Best Playback Singer - Male

Global Indian Film Awards

National Film Awards

Zee Cine Awards

Star Screen Awards

Bollywood Movie Awards

Film Café Awards

Rupa Cinegoers Awards for Jury Best Actor


External links

Reviews: * [103907]

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