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The inspirations behind SWADES (2004), including a '90s TV series where the director himself played the role of SRK. - By Bobby Sing (BTC Exclusive) (Did You Know - 87)
17 Aug, 2016 | Did You Know! / Inspired Movies (Alphabetical) / S

Though SWADES (2004) was not a major box office charmer as per the expectations raised, yet it successfully won hearts and is widely considered as one of the finest works of three creative men namely, Ashutosh Govariker, Shah Rukh Khan and A. R. Rahman.
Apart from its heartwarming subject, lead performance and a melodious soundtrack, another contributor who silently left a mark on almost every single viewer watching the film remained Gayatri Joshi, who looked gorgeous in her first and only appearance as an effortless actress playing the role of Geeta. In fact such was the impact of her adorable act that the girl and her only film appearance is still remembered as one of those most lovable performances by many Hindi cinema enthusiasts including myself.
Receiving widespread critical acclaim, SWADES was also regarded as one of the finest films of the decade and along with CHAKK DE INDIA is often quoted among the career best performances of Shah Rukh Khan in an off-beat experimental film, other than his more famous ventures.
However not many are aware of the fact that the basic idea of its storyline or rather the exact idea of its major content came from a TV series aired at ZEE TV titled “Yule Love Stories” in the year 1993-95. And you are sure to get amazed reading the following pointers revealing the specific references taken from the two particular episodes of the series titled VAAPSI.
A. The director Ashutosh Gowariker himself played the character of a foreign returned young man in the serial that was enacted by SRK in SWADES using the same name as Mohan Bhargav.
B. In the serial too, Mohan first visits an old age home to meet his Kaveri Amma (the name remains the same in the film), but finds that she had already left the place a couple of years back and is now living in a small village with her young grand-daughter.
Yule Vapsi
C. Next there is the book shop sequence as seen in the film where Mohan agrees to sit behind the counter for a while on a request made by his owner friend. A customer steps on the books, a girl confronts him pointing out his mistake, Mohan watches them both, the girl brings a lot of books to the counter, keeps telling the right total while Mohan is calculating and then forgets to collect the change before leaving.
D. Post the book shop sequence, the lavish caravan features in the serial too and Mohan travels in it to the village Kaveri Amma is supposed to be living.
E. He reaches there and surprises Kaveri Amma exactly in the same manner as Shah Rukh Khan greets her in the film and then meets Geeta - the girl he had earlier met in the bookshop. (Again having the same name as used in the film)
Yule VapsiF. The story keeps proceeding on the similar lines and among other exactly identical scenes (as seen in the film) we have Mohan living in the caravan itself, an innocent postman/postmaster getting confused over the unknown inventions like FAX (it gets converted to E-mail in the film), Geeta angrily talking to Mohan while he is taking a bath, Mohan visiting the school and sitting in Geeta’s class as a student, his confession of love made in the classroom itself (standing next to the blackboard) and then both Geeta and Kaveri Amma not agreeing on leaving the village to get settled abroad.
G. However in the serial it all ends when instead of flying back Ashutosh decides to stay in the village along with Geeta and Kaveri Amma.
H. Considering the rural environment, amazingly even the house of Kaveri Amma in the serial reminds you of a similar one seen in SWADES and if I am not wrong then even after a gap of almost a decade, it’s the same actress (Kishori Ballal) playing Kaveri Amma in the film too who actually enriched the serial with an immensely likable warmth and natural ease.
Hence a major part of SWADES more or less remained exactly identical to the storyline and execution of these two-episodes of the series titled VAAPSI produced by Odyssey Video Communications Ltd. for Zee TV. Unfortunately the recently uploaded episodes (at Zee's OZEE app and website) don't have any credit details as such but according to an unconfirmed information available at a link it was Anand Subramanium who directed the two episodes in the mid 90s. Interestingly in case of the film SWADES, the credit of Story has been given to M. G. Sathya & Ashutosh Gowariker whereas Screenplay has been credited to only Ashutosh Gowariker.
Coming to the final section of the film related with the problem of electricity in the village, it was highly inspired from a real life incident when a NRI couple returning from abroad actually built a power generating unit in a village of Maharashtra.
The two social activists were Ravi Kuchimanchi and Aravinda Pillalamarri who returned to India with a mission to serve the country and through the collective efforts of the local villagers and other social organisations (Narmada Bachao Aandolan) were able to build a small power generating unit in the village of Bilgaon, Maharashtra in 2003. The successful initiative soon became a benchmark in the field of rural development and gained even more popularity around the states post the film’s release in 2004.
But unfortunately three years later in 2006, an unexpected flood washed away the innovative, inspiring project coming as a big blow to the villagers and the entire region again went back into the same decades old forgotten era of the ugly darkness.
As per the latest news reports, the project lies abandoned today due to various reasons including lack of water-flow in the river, no revival initiative by the state authorities and the usual hiccups. (Details of which can be read in the links shared towards the end of the write-up)
Among the other worth mentioning features of this new age classic:
1. The film begins with the quote of “Mahatma Gandhi” and interestingly its lead actor is also named as Mohan, most probably inspired from the real name of Gandhi as ‘Mohandas’. And the worth contemplating quote is,
“Hesitating to act because the whole vision might not be achieved, or because others do not share it, is an attitude that only hinders progress”
2. The Opening titles also mention a book "BAPU KUTI: Journey In The Rediscovery of Gandhi" by Rajni Bakshi as an inspiration, since it’s about the people who courageously left their respective corporate careers only to work for the community following the principles of Mahatma Gandhi.
And you can also spot the book lying on the desk in the scene, when Shah Rukh Khan is preparing a carry bag for Gayatri in the book shop.
3. Beginning with the sequences of SRK working in NASA, SWADES is the first Indian film to be shot in the premises of NASA Research Centre and the project SRK is working upon in the film is also an actual NASA project as reported. (The opening credits duly thank the Centre in details.)
4. The soundtrack of the film has a unique instrumental version of the song “Yeh Jo Des Hai Mera” with the lead melody played by a Shehnai, a short phrase of the same melody repeated throughout and a continuous chorus kind of sound that seems to be clipped from another track of the album (quite innovatively). Certainly an exceptional attempt made by A. R. Rahman that actually becomes a major highlight of the music album, probably being the only official instrumental version of a film song using the Shehnai.   
5. Lastly in another track “Pal Pal Hai Bhari” where the act of Ramleela is being staged in the second half of the film, one of the male voices singing the song is of director Ashutosh Govariker himself.
No doubt with such interesting lesser known features SWADES has a lot that can truly inspire many young creative minds as a worth watching new-age classic of Hindi Cinema.  
Cheers!
© Bobby Sing (Harpreet) – Bobbytalkscinema.com
17th August 2016
(With A Big Thanks to CHRIS for reminding me of the subject in his valuable comment) 

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Tags : Swades Inspirations, Swades inspird from Yule Love Stories, Swades inspired from Zee TV Serial, Swades inspired from real life inspired event at Bilgaon Maharashtra, Swades and real life project at Bilgaon, Swades and Shehnai song, Swades Bapu Kuti, Swades and Mahatma Gandhi, Swades and NASA, Swades as a must watch inspiring film.
17 Aug 2016 / Comments ( 6 )
Hemant Chaudhari

Good work, Bobby Singh!
May I know who is a writer and a director of Vaapsi? Is it Ashutosh Gowarikar's work too?

Bobby Sing

Thanks for visiting and writing in praising the article Hemant Chaudhuri.
Unfortunately I couldn't get it confirmed but still have updated the article with the name of the director too.

However one thing which we can conclude is that the two parts of the series were neither written nor directed by Ashutosh himself.

Keep Visiting..
Cheers!

Jai Shah

Wonderful information. Hats off to You....
Yes, I distinctly remember Yule Love Stories. It was a very interesting series. And now VAAPSI does ring a bell. Though I don't remember seeing both episodes, I actually found Kaaveri Amma very familiar while watching Swades. And yes, it was definitely Shahrukhs best performance till date where he actually played Mohan & not Shahrukh. And Gayatri Joshi, why did she get married so soon ? And the title song sung by Rahman himself always gives me goosebumps. Brilliant song.
Dear Ashutosh, we want to see more of you in the Swades mould.

Bobby Sing

Thanks a lot for your kind words and support Jai Shah.
And yes Ashutosh really needs to rediscover once again as it has been already too late.

Cheers!

Raj
Nice find, Bobby Ji!

Any You Tube link for this 'Vaapsi'?
Bobby Sing

Thanks Raj,
Its not at youtube but you can find the episodes at Zee's app and site called Ozee.com

Cheers!

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