Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey

Rating : 3/10
Release Date : 3rd December, 2010
Time : 160 minutes
Director, Co-Writer : Ashutosh Gowarikar; Co-writer : (Based on the book ‘Do and Die’ by Manini Chatterjee) Raoul V Randolf; Music : Sohail Sen
Starring : Abhishek Bachchan, Deepika Padukone, Sikander Kher, Vishaka Dutta, Mahinder Singh, Shreyas Pandit, Samrat Mukherjee, Feroz Wahid Khan

Disclaimer 1 : Nothing I’m writing here is any reflection on the actual people involved in the Chittagong uprising. I’ve not read the book nor am acquainted with the facts of this chapter in our freedom struggle. I hold in deep awe and respect each freedom fighter. All my comments are based completely on the movie & its characters, not the real martyrs.

Disclaimer 2 : In most freedom fight movies that I see, even Lagaan, my blood reaches boiling point extremely easily. First, by watching the atrocities heaped upon us by the British. Second, watching how easily we were duped and deceived by them. And third, watching Indians (including soldiers) carry out their cruel bidding – independence could’ve been far more easily obtained if no Indian had chosen to work for them. Obviously, then, this is not my favourite genre as its very hard to appreciate a film where you watch most of the film in silent rage.

This film is about an uprising that happened in Chittagong in 1930 where a group of people, led by a teacher (Abhishek Bachchan), tried to seize control of the town and send a message to the British. In this effort some teenagers (as young as thirteen, fourteen year olds) also took part as did a couple of women.

The first half moves along at a nice clip, is edited well, has some nice Q&A when the revolutionary recruitment drive is being carried out, some nice moments of humour. The second half, which deals with the actual attempt and its fallout, stretches and meanders and completely ruins the cinematic experience. You’re not sure at all of the true impact of what they were trying, of the significance of the attempt and its consequences.

A lot of questions remain unanswered, some key characters remain under developed. Abhishek, for example, why did he choose to go against Mahatma Gandhi’s decree of non-violence ? What was his logic and how come he got so many people to join him without any debate or discussion ? Also, based on the events as they turned out, he came across as a very poor leader – his planning had some obvious flaws (some extremely glaring ones), when in trouble he never seemed to be able to come up with the answers and had to rely constantly on the sacrifice of those around him and there was never any back up plan. He was hardly inspiring, he had no special gifts or talents that he brought to the fore. Similarly, all the other senior revolutionaries and the characters portrayed by Deepika and Vishaka, came across as unthinking, blind follow-the-leader kind of people. Ready to lay down their life but not totally clear or questioning enough about the methods being adopted to achieve their objective

The acting performances were very good – from Abhishek to Deepika to each of the teenage boys to senior artistes alike , they all looked and felt the part of idealistic early twentieth century revolutionaries. However, apart from Abhishek’s role, all other roles are cameos. Music is ordinary. The feel, the sets and the atmosphere though is brilliantly done. You do feel transported to another era.

This story, to make it a more interesting film needed some fictionalising. Maybe beefing up the romance a bit, for example or adding some other dramatic points apart from the uprising itself. In its current form, the second half truly pulls the film down, making it an almost unwatchable experience.

Postscript : My son didn’t enjoy the movie so much (more for the bloodshed shown in the second half) but was sufficiently fired up by the movie to write a short essay about the British rule for his classwork and a short poem about the freedom struggle. A better made film could surely inspire a few thousand more like him.

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