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Dange Review: We've Seen Better Before

Last updated on: March 01, 2024 10:56 IST
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Much better films about the explosive -- if often misdirected -- energy of the young have been made before than Dange, points out Deepa Gahlot.

St Martin's is a multi-disciplinary college in Goa, where the overaged students do everything but crack open a textbook. Which is why it is hard to take Bijoy Nambiar's Dange seriously.

Student unrest and teen rebellion are real, and for many, a rite of passage.

But the male students in the film are just plain thuggish and the females have agendas of their own. Not one sympathetic character among the lot, except perhaps the girl pushed into standing against a gangster-politician's daughter in college elections, and made to suffer for it.


One of the male leads, Xavier or Zee (Harshvardhan Rane) keeps flunking his thesis presentation but faces no rebuke from the college. There is no indication of his socio-economic background but he has untidy long-hair, dresses like a hippie and zooms around on an expensive ATV.

The other kids in the college hang on to his every word and treat him like a leader.

His position is threatened by the arrival of handsome fresher Yuva (Ehan Bhat), a gym-toned brawler, who does not care about seniors and knows what it takes to get students on his side.

Zee's friend Rishika (Nikita Dutta), who has a side hustle supplying drugs to students, is attracted to Yuva too. But the newbie has a history with Zee and wants to extract revenge.

Gayatri (TJ Bhanu) runs an organisation called Awaaz, that looks after the interests of students -- like getting a professor fired for his casteist remarks. Her rival is Siddhi (Zoa Morani), who has a past with Gayatri, and tries to use it to get her opponent in the election to withdraw.

A few genuine issues are introduced, but no strand goes anywhere.

Nambiar just sets up squabbles, with as much noisy background music as possible.

If there is a college, there has to be a festival, and a clash between the Zee gang and the Yuva gang is imminent.

Caught up in it are two students vying for the attention of the same girl. Problems that plague college students are filtered down to macho posturing over trivial issues.

Much better films about the explosive -- if often misdirected -- energy of the young have been made before, like Gulzar's Mere Apne (1971), Ketan Mehta's Holi (1984), Sudhir Mishra's Yeh Woh Manzil To Nahin (1987), Tigmanshu Dhulia's Haasil (2003), Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra's Rang De Basanti (2006), Anurag Kashyap's Gulaal (2009), Rajkumar Hirani's 3 Idiots (2009), to name just a few, that captured the zeitgeist from the point of view of the youth.

Nambiar wishes to speak for students but he does not know their language nor does he understand their problems or fears.

He just had to read the newspapers, check social media or attend a college festival or two to understand what campus life is like.

Yes, there is romance, political ambition and excitement, but also ragging, academic pressure, competition and worries about career.

In Dange, it is past intermission when the inside of a classroom is first seen.

Medical students, like the ones portrayed in this film, would not have time to look up from their packed schedules leave aside running riot.

None of the main actors are young enough to convey that unformed look of the average teenager -- the mix of confidence and vulnerability.

The film badly needed fresh faces, a much better soundtrack than that faux hiphop racket constantly on, and some genuine campus crises. OTT is doing a much better job of bottling the spirit of 21st century youth culture.

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