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12-03-2010, 12:55 PM #1
KhJJS infuses life in a dormant chapter of history Read more: KhJJS infuses life in
In this pre-independence era account set in the undivided Bengal of 1930, strangely all characters bear a Bengali accent only while uttering proper nouns (names, places, etc) whiletheir usual conversations happen in chaste Hindi.
Director Ashutosh Gowariker intentionally opts for this inconsistency to make the language lucid for the viewer. Likewise the film resorts to convenience at several instances though it intermittently succeeds in inciting fervent patriotic fervour.
The story opens in 1930 when a school teacher Surjya Sen (Abhishek Bachchan) strategizes multiple attacks on the British cantonment in Chittagong to initiate a revolution for freedom from foreign rule. Supported by his revolutionary friends Nirmal Sen (Sikandar Kher), Ambika Chakraborti ( Shreyas Pandit), Anant Singh (Maninder), Ganesh Ghosh (Samrat) and Lokenath Bal (Feroz Wahid Khan), they train a bunch of school kids to use arms and ammunition for warfare against the British. Together they carry out their calculated attacks at five significant locations on the night of April 18. This unexpected mutiny spreads terror amongst British.
Adapted from Manini Chatterjee's book 'Do or Die', Gowariker stays true to the characters and the historical account. Having an expert eye in recreating the bygone era (esp. after period dramas like Lagaan and Jodhaa Akbar), the director gets everything from the art, aura, costumes and music correct to the requisite accuracy. The detailing in the execution of the attack is remarkable as you literally feel a part of it. While the first half is primarily about planning, the second half ignites the patriotic feel with the attack and its aftermath. The carnage of teenaged rebels and the execution of Surjya Sen are shocking sequences.
But while the screenplay by Raoul Randolf and Ashutosh Gowariker attempts to be comprehensive incorporating every minute detail, Gowariker can't resist the temptation of stretching the narrative to a three-hour runtime. Extensive repetitive footage could have been chopped off both in the first half (student shortlisting/finding funds for the operation)
and the second half (recurring firing combats between the revolutionaries and British soldiers) to keep the narrative tight. The climactic scene where a female revolutionary barges into a British party is just too corny and convenient. Also a song between sahelis to introduce the female leads makes you wonder whether the film is about the rebellion of 30s or homage to the retro era of cinema.
While the character of Surjya Sen is credible enough, there is not much mention of his past or his family background. That's primarily because the film is not designed as his biographical but focuses only on the chapter of the Chittagong Uprising initiated by Sen. Likewise all other partaking revolutionaries are also randomly introduced with no background accounts. Though one doesn't wish to know their entire life histories, a mention on what triggered their ingress into the independence movement would have surely helped. The British officers are almost relegated to being junior artists but that doesn't bother much because they symbolize the antagonist, which in this case is an entire sect and not any single individual.
Since the director chooses for a straightforward storytelling pattern and there is no attempt to connect with contemporary conflicts like a Rang De Basanti did, the movie at times appears too idealistic. The teenager's consent to associate with the uprising seems to be achieved too easily.
The cinematography is striking, background score is effective, action is real and soundtrack (with a charging title track) is in sync with the period and genre. The dialogues often get trite. The editing could have been much crisper.
Abhishek Bachchan plays Surjya Sen with complete conviction.He is confident and inspiring. Interestingly Ashutosh Gowariker designs well-etched roles for the entire supporting cast.Shreyas Pandit, Maninder and Samrat are exceptionally good. Sikandar Kher is decent in his part. Surprisingly Deepika Padukone doesn't get much scope.
Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey infuses life in a dormant chapter from history textbooks. If you overlook the minor inconsistencies, this one is a decent patriotic film and surely worth a watch for its sincerity.