A few weeks ago, I watched Lakshya and was moved by the story yet again. There is something beautiful about that film that stirs up the emotions. Lakshya is the story of Karan Shergill, played marvelously by Hirthik Roshan, who is struggling to find a lakshya—a purpose—in his life. He belongs to a rich business family, and therefore, money is not something that concerns him. He decides to join the Indian Army, and then, finds his aim of recapturing a peak from the intruders in Kargil and successfully achieves it, too. The first half of the movie focuses on Karan's internal struggle, while the second half of the movie depicts his external struggle, though his inner struggle is the one that drives him even later. I really like the first half more than the second half. Karan is constantly being exhorted by his parents to do something worthwhile with his life. His parents compare him with his US-settled brother, and Karan hates this comparison. His friends have ambitious plans for their respective careers. His talented girlfriend, Romi (Preity Zinta), is an activist known for leading agitations against the establishment, and is on her way to become a television journalist. And, he does not even know how he is going to spend his day, forget his career aspirations. Everyone around him with the exception of Romi is judging his idleness and his lack of ambition in his life, and this makes him question himself. The song Main Aisa Kyun Hoon is a depiction of this internal struggle. He is on a stage and a bunch of weird old people are sitting in the audience at a higher level. The stage and the surroundings are a metaphor for the thoughts in Karan's brain. The old people judge him for the lack of a purpose in life depicted by their higher level. However, Karan finds them to be weird in his head. He is trying to break free from the expectations of the people around him. He sees many versions of himself in the mirror signifying his indecisiveness; sometimes, he wants to be someone, and sometimes, he wants to be someone else. He is surrounded by people who have found their aim in life, represented by the people dressed in black, and having suitcases with them. At one side, these people are wearing sunglasses, and the other side, they are wearing ties, representing some sort of duality of a casualness and a formality. Karan, however, dressed in white, cannot wear this mask. He is still struggling to find his calling and having a mechanical robot-like job is something that he does not want.
Trying to break free of the stereotypes
Finding the real Karan
Ties at the back
In the second half of the movie, the focus shifts towards the Kargil War. However, Karan's internal struggles continue to haunt him. He wants to resolve the complicated relationship that he has with Romi, and his parents. Though the setting being in the mountains is quite obvious, I found it very interesting that the film chose the conquest of one unscalable mountain as the ultimate aim of Karan and his batallion. The mountain was a metaphor for Karan's internal struggle; otherwise, there were many other scenarios that were possible in a war film. At one point near the interval, Karan is standing by the river-side and throwing stones in the river, and is self-reflecting. So, he has moved from Delhi in the first half to Kargil during the interval and then, finally reaches the top in the end. The external journey and the places where Karan goes are a reflection of the inner journey and state of mind of Karan. In Delhi, he was aimless. In Kargil, he has taken some steps to find an aim. On the Peak 5179, he has finally found both his inner and external aim of life. The fact that Karan scales the wall was representing a triumph of his internal struggle. He has conquered his inner turmoil that was troubling him and he has proved to everyone that he, too, can be an achiever. Perhaps, it is this triumph over turmoil that is so uplifting. I could not be bothered much about the external struggle, but this inner struggle of a character is something that is indeed stimulating and moving.
From aimlessness to finding an aim
From finding an aim to achieving it
I love Romi. She is a smart and a mature person. At one point in the film, Karan asks her that why does she love someone like him, who is totally not worthy of her. She replies, "Main ne aaj tak tum me koi chhoti baat nahi dekhi. Aur na hi tumhare muh se kabhi koi cheap baat suni. Main iske liye tumhari respect karti hun. I like that. Tum bahut acche insaan ho and that is why I love you." How many people would love someone because the only quality in the other person is that he is nice? She is such an accomplished woman and she loves Karan because he is a good person at heart and not like the pretentious feminist boyfriend she meets after breaking-up with him. I understand the dynamics would be totally different if money was a factor in their lives, but there is something old school about Romi's choice of love. In our movies, the hero might be poor, but he is hard working but Karan is lazy and does not do anything, and still someone like Romi loves him, and I love Romi for that.
Tum bahut acche insaan ho
There is another lovely scene in the film. Karan is about to leave for the mission tomorrow and he sees Romi standing outside. He goes to her and says, "Ho sakta hai vapas nahi aaun," and she replies, "To main zindagi bhar intezaar karungi." And, then he wants to say something else as well and wants to hold her in his arms but he cannot. There is so much to say, and yet nothing to say. It is only the eyes that communicate because, sometimes, words fail. Earlier in the song Kitni Baatein, we see that Karan and Romi are on two sides of a road, and the song talks about distances. The physical distance between them was a representation of the emotional distance that has crept up between them.
To main zindagi bhar intezaar karungi
And, my most favorite scene of the film is when Karan is sitting on the ground in a park and is crying. He was punished severely by the Army Officers. He has ran away from the Army. His parents knew he will not survive there and they are proven to be true. He is dejected that his parents think so little of him. Even Romi, the one person who always supported him, is angry with him and has broken-up with him. All he is left with is to cry on his own shoulders. A grown man crying all by himself, and then, finally decides to move on all by himself. I find this scene to be gut wrenching and motivating at the same time. Can there be any dry eye while watching it, then?
There is a lot to admire in Lakshya and is one of my favorite films. The film's poster also talks about this amalgamation of his inner and his external struggle, where Karan's shadow is the one in his Army uniform. It says, "It took him 24 years and 18,000 feet to find himself."
P.S. — I have started writing a long piece on Dil Chahta Hai. As of now, it is about 4,000 words in about three chapters. Don't know if I will be able to sustain it, given the upcoming peak season in office. I might reduce the frequency of blogging to focus on that but will continue to write on some films because writing takes a lot of time. But there is this feeling in me that people will stop reading it. If only, I had the ability to reach my lakshya.
Dialogue of the day:
"Cheezein jab tak perfect na ho, theek nahi lagti."
— Sunil Damle, Lakshya