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Swades: We, the People
File:Swades movie poster.png
Directed by Ashutosh Gowariker
Produced by Ashutosh Gowariker
Ronnie Screwvala
Written by Ashutosh Gowariker
Screenplay by Ashutosh Gowariker
Sameer Sharma
Lalit Marathe
Amin Hajee
Charlotte Whitby-Coles
Yashodeep Nigudkar
Ayan Mukherjee
Story by Ashutosh Gowariker
M. G. Sathya
Based on K. Shivaram Karanth
Starring Shah Rukh Khan
Gayatri Joshi
Kishori Balal
Music by A. R. Rahman
Cinematography Mahesh Aney
Edited by Ballu Saluja
Distributed by UTV Motion Pictures
Release dates
17 December 2004
Running time
195 minutes
Country India
Language Hindi
Budget 210 million (equivalent to 520 million or US$7.7 million in 2016)[1]
Box office 342 million (equivalent to 850 million or US$13 million in 2016)[2][3]

Swades: We, the People (Hindi: स्वदेस, pronounced [sʋəˈd̪eːʃ], own country) is a 2004 Indian drama film written, produced and directed by Ashutosh Gowariker. It stars Shah Rukh Khan and Gayatri Joshi in her first film. The film received widespread critical acclaim and a cult following from Indian and other South Asian audiences around the world.[4][5] It is widely regarded as one of the best Bollywood films of the decade[6] and was later dubbed and released in Tamil under the title Desam.[7]


Mohan Bhargava (Shah Rukh Khan) is a non-resident Indian working as a project manager at NASA. He had been a student at the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League school. After the death of his parents and 12 years in the US, he decides to return to his hometown, Delhi, in India to find his nanny, Kaveri Amma (Kishori Ballal), with whom he has lost touch. After visiting the old-age home where Kaveri Amma resided, he finds out through her friend that Kaveri Amma was taken to a village Charanpur.

While there, he meets interesting people; there is the village postmaster, eager to know more about e-mail 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 is a cook who harbors ambitions of opening a dhaba on a US freeway and sees in Mohan an opportunity to get a visa.

While Mohan soon adapts to life in the village and endears himself to its people, he develops a cat-and-mouse romance with his childhood acquaintance Gita (Gayatri Joshi), who brought Kaveri Amma from the old-age home to be with her and her brother, Chiku (Master Smit Sheth). Gradually he encounters some of the harsher aspects of the village; among them are poverty, caste discrimination, child marriage, illiteracy, child labor, a general disregard for education, and 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, who runs the local school.

One day Kaveri Amma sends him to a village called Kodi to collect dues from a farmer named Haridas who has rented Gita's land. Along the way, 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 would not support his attempts at a change of occupation from weaving to farming. Mohan returns empty handed but has a new sensitivity and perspective towards the harsh realities of rural India. This journey to Kodi and back proves to be the turning point in Mohan's life, and he comes back with a resolve to improve 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 is time for him to leave as his project at NASA is nearing 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 and who had fallen in love with him, 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 finishes his project at NASA before resigning and returning to India. The movie ends with Mohan and the postmaster wrestling for fun. Mohan wins.


  • Shahrukh Khan as Mohan Bhargava
  • Gayatri Joshi as Gita
  • Kishori Ballal as Kaveri Amma
  • Rajesh Vivek as Nivaaran
  • Makrand Deshpande as Fakir
  • Lekh Tandon as Dadaji
  • Daya Shankar Pandey as Melaram
  • Bachan Pachehra as Haridas
  • Vishnudutt Gaur as Vishnudutt
  • Farrukh Jaffar as Panch Fatima Bi
  • Visshwa Badola as Panch Munishwar
  • Bhim Vakani as Panch Narayan
  • Dilip Ambekar as Panch Hariya
  • Raja Awasthi as Panch Gungadin
  • Rahul Vohra as Vinod
  • Rajesh Balwani as Rahul
  • Peter Rawley as John Stockton
  • Master Smit Sheth as Chiku



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.[8][9][10] Gowarikar spent considerable time with Aravinda and Ravi, both dedicated Association for India's Development (AID) volunteers. He supposedly visited Bilgaon, an Adivasi village in the Narmada valley, which is the backdrop of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) movement. The people of Bilgaon are credited with doing 200 person-days of shramdaan (community service) to make their village energy self-sufficient. The Bilgaon project is recognised as a model for replication by the government of Maharashtra.

A controversy aroused saying Swades was a remake of Kannada film Chigurida Kanasu, based on a novel of the same name by K. Shivaram Karanth. The claim was repudiated by the writer M.G. Sathya.[11]


Mahatma Gandhi's great-grandson, Tushar Gandhi noted the theme of Gandhism in the film. He found it unfortunate that the movie was not box office success[12] The name of the main character portrayed by Shahrukh Khan is Mohan, which was Mahatma Gandhi's birth name (Mohandas or "Mohan"). Swades opens with the following quotation from Gandhi:

Gowariker tries to address the lack of a scientific temperament and widespread ignorance among the rural folks through the energetic number "Ye Tara Wo Tara" where Mohan is seen encouraging the children to experience the fascinating world of stars through his telescope. In a symbolic manner, the song rejects the defunct divisions of caste and class and at the same time, through its protagonist, tries to instill in the audience an appreciation of curiosity and observation.

Casting and filming

Panorama of Menawali, Dist. Satara, the village in Maharashtra where Swades was shot

The role of Mohan was first offered to Hrithik Roshan who refused after reading the script.[13] Then Shahrukh Khan got this offer from Ashutosh Gowariker.

Swades was the first Indian film to be shot inside the NASA research center at the Launch Pad 39A of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.[14][15] The rainfall monitoring satellite known as the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) in the film is an actual NASA mission and was launched in 2014.[16][17][18]


Critical reception

The film received overwhelmingly strong critical acclaim from critics. Most of the critics felt that Shahrukh Khan's performance in Swades was his best till date. Subhash K Jha of Indiatimes Movies gave 4.5 stars out of 5 and said "Swades is a unique experiment with grassroot realism. It is so politically correct in its propagandist message that initially you wonder if the government of India funded the director's dream."

Mayank Shekhar from MiD DAY gave 4 stars and called it 'bravo!' and added "I cannot think of a better film for the longest that deserved a stronger recommendation for both touring cinemas of India's villages, and plush multiplexes of Mumbai or Manhattan." Jitesh Pillai of the Sunday Times of India gave 4 stars and said "After Lagaan, what? The answer's blowing in the wind. Swades. Here's the verdict: This is a gusty and outstanding film. Welcome back to real, solid film-making." He added "Swades is undoubtedly the No 1 movie of the year." Shradha Sukumaran of Mid-Day gave 3.5 stars and said "At the end of it, Swades is a far braver film than Lagaan. It could have hit the high note — if it hadn't tried so hard."

Swades went on to become a cult classic and currently holds a rating of 8.5 out of 10 on the Internet Movie Database , and Khan's performance as Mohan Bhargava is considered one of his best by many.[6]

Avijit Ghosh wrote in The Telegraph, Kolkata, "With its gentle humour, the film acts as an entertaining vehicle for social change. And hopefully, it will do more for positive nationalism than the Union government's Directorate of Audio Visual Publicity (DAVP) ads ever will. Few recent Bollywood films have songs so beautifully integrated with the script. If only debutante Gayatri Joshi could emote, many scenes could have had so much more spark. Acting out a village school teacher with a mind of her own needed a new millennium Nutan, not a pretty, slimline dummy. Swades is naive. But it is also decent, chaste and brave. Only the boldest of filmmakers can make a mainstream movie where the climax is not about saving the country from terrorists or uniting desperate lovers but getting electricity to a north Indian village."[19]

Box office

Swades earned 152.5 million (US$2.3 million) nett in India.[2] In the overseas market, the film made $2,790,000.[20] It had a lifetime worldwide gross of 342.6 million (US$5.1 million).


File:Swades 2004 SoHaM.jpg
Soundtrack album by A.R.Rahman
Released 2004
Recorded Panchathan Record Inn
Genre Feature film soundtrack
Label T-Series
Producer A.R. Rahman
A.R.Rahman chronology
Dil Ne Jise Apna Kahaa
(2004)Dil Ne Jise Apna Kahaa2004
Kisna: The Warrior Poet
(2004)Kisna: The Warrior Poet2004
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Planet Bollywood 9/10 stars link

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. Udit Narayan won the National Film Award for Best Male Playback Singer for the track "Yeh Tara Woh Tara". All lyrics written by Javed Akhtar, all music composed by A. R. Rahman.

No. Title Artist(s) Length
1. "Yeh Taara Woh Taara"   Udit Narayan, Master Vignesh, Baby Pooja 7:13
2. "Saanwariya Saanwariya"   Alka Yagnik 5:17
3. "Yun Hi Chala Chala"   Udit Narayan, Kailash Kher, Hariharan 7:28
4. "Aahista Aahista"   Udit Narayan, Sadhana Sargam 6:49
5. "Yeh Jo Des Hai Tera"   A. R. Rahman 6:28
6. "Pal Pal Hai Bhaari"   Madhushree, Vijay Prakash 6:50
7. "Dekho Na"   Alka Yagnik, Udit Narayan 5:46
8. "Pal Pal Hai Bhaari" (Flute) Naveen 3:38
9. "Yeh Jo Des Hai Tera" (Shehnai) Madhukar T. Dhumal ( musician ), 4:00

Tamil version

The Tamil soundtrack under the title Desam[21] was also composed by A.R. Rahman. Lyrics were written by Vairamuthu and Vaali.

Title Singer(s) Length
Thirukona Moolam S.P. Balasubrahmanyam, Master Vignesh, Baby Pooja 7:13
Kaaviriya Kaaviriya Madhushree, Alka Yagnik (humming) 5:17
Unnai Kelai T. L. Maharajan, Hariharan 7:28
Kettenaa Naan Mohammed Aslam, Sadhana Sargam 6:49
Unthan Desathin Kural A.R. Rahman 6:28
Mazhai Mega Vanna Chithra, Srinivas 6:50
Thai Sonna K.J. Yesudas, madhushree 5:46
Unthan Desathin Kural (Shehnai) Madhukar T. Dhumal 4:00


National Film Awards
Filmfare Awards
Global Indian Film Awards
Zee Cine Awards
Star Screen Awards
Stardust Awards
Bollywood Movie Awards
Film Café Awards

See also


  1. Swades - Starring Shahrukh Khan, Gayatri Joshi, Kishori Ballal, Dayashanker Pandey, Rajesh Vivek. Swades's box office, news, reviews, video, pictures, and music soundtrack. Ibosnetwork.com. Retrieved on 2015-03-30.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Boxofficeindia.com. Web.archive.org (2013-10-14). Retrieved on 2015-03-30.
  3. Boxofficeindia.com. Web.archive.org (2013-09-26). Retrieved on 2015-03-30.
  4. "Lost in Translation - Part 1/2". Filmfare. 8 September 2011. Retrieved 14 March 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Deepak Mahaan (4 August 2011). "Arts / Cinema : Intoxicated with second love!". The Hindu. Chennai, India. Retrieved 14 March 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 Verma, Sukanya. "10 Best Bollywood Movies of the Decade". Rediff.com. Retrieved 27 June 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "The Hindu : Entertainment : Will `Swades' repeat the `Lagaan' magic ?". The Hindu. 2004-12-10. Retrieved 2015-11-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "The Real Swadesis: Aravinda and Ravi". NRIPULSE.COM. Retrieved 25 December 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Bilgaon Village: From Darkness to Light". AID Austin. Retrieved 25 December 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "The Bilgaon model". FRONTLINE (THE HINDU). Retrieved 25 December 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Christopher, Kavvya (3 June 2005). "Something borrowed". The Times of India. Retrieved 29 August 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Jha, Subhash K.; Service, Indo-Asian News (2015-11-19). "\`I\`m pleased with Hirani\`s Gandhigiri,\` says Gandhi\`s grandson". Sify.com. Retrieved 2015-11-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Ash, Hrithik ready to go back in time". The Times of India. 11 October 2006. Retrieved 28 July 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Swades". BBC. 2004. Retrieved 29 August 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Radio Sargam Interview: Shah Rukh Khan!". Radio Sargam. Retrieved 29 August 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Lights, Camera, Liftoff!". NASA. Retrieved 29 August 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "Global Precipitation Measurement". NASA. Retrieved 28 July 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "GPM Launch Information". NASA. Retrieved 2014-02-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "A film that dares". The Telegraph. Calcutta, India. 24 December 2004.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. [1] Archived 6 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  21. Kamini Mathai (2009). A.R. Rahman: The Musical Storm. Penguin Books India. pp. 256–. ISBN 978-0-670-08371-8.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. Suhasini, Lalitha (19 July 2005). "Destiny's child". The Indian Express. Pune Newsline. Retrieved 25 April 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. Pratiyogita Darpan (May 2005). Competition Science Vision. Pratiyogita Darpan. pp. 289–.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. imbd, imbd (March 26, 2005). "zee cine 2005". Imdb. Pune Newsline. Retrieved 16 March 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. "Film Cafe: Winners". BBC Radio. Retrieved 28 July 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links