Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey

For me, Kheley Hum Jee Jaan Se will probably be the last time I am going to invest time and money in a Ashutosh Gowariker movie. It marks a very sad decline for someone regarded as one of India’s finest directors not too many years back. While length had always been his weakness, his story telling has now become a joke. What started off in the laborious Jodhaa Akbar has reached the nadir in this movie – the story and screenplay lack any drama, any sense of cinema or emotional highs and lows.

The story of the Chittagong uprising of 1930, a forgotten chapter of our freedom struggle – when revolutionaries under Surya Sen tried to make an example out of Chittagong. They decided to rid Chittagong of all Britishers by taking out five key targets in one audacious night – the telegraph office, the police lines armory, the railway tracks, the European Club and the British Army Cantonment. And if you watch the movie, you will realize how agonizingly close they came to rewriting history of British India.

And I do have to concede - even with his failings as a moviemaker, Ashutosh Gowarker has to be applauded for bringing this forgotten story to light. Because of it, I have a new sense of respect for all those who gave up so much for the fight to free this country. But ironically, I got it not from the movie but only from the end credits - where the photos of all the people who were involved in the Chittagong uprising makes the events of the movie spine-chillingly real. The biggest emotional surge for me came towards the end of the credits when I read the name of some Bengali gentleman who is still living in Bangladesh ! Alive, 80 years after the event !

Kheley Hum Jee Jaan Sey is in two distinct parts. The first part shows all the planning that went into the raids and how the group of rebels got together. The second half shows the actual raid and the aftermath of the raids as the British ruthlessly hunted down every one of the conspirators. The planners of the raid were Surya Sen and couple of his friends. Together they trained and inducted into his plans some 50 odd teenagers, mostly students, for the attack.

Did Surya Sen misuse his position as a teacher to whitewash impressionable minds into the rebellion? The movie doesn’t even consider the question relevant – everything is clearly black and white and Masterda Surya Sen never did anything wrong.

In the first half, we are introduced to innumerable number of characters, without any depth or detail on any of them. Even Abhishek Bachhan as Surya Sen seems unreal. He is always straight-faced and speaks only in a measured tone. He has always the right things to say, his shirt is always crisp white and he composure remains unruffled in most situations. Though his actions seem to suggest there is a fire in his belly, one sees no other visible signs of it anywhere. Deepika, with her size-zero, looks completely out of place in the movie – and quite frankly I didn’t think this movie needed a leading lady or any romatic angle.

The bad characterization is compounded by the absolute lack of any drama in the screenplay. I have seen documentaries with more emotional highs and lows than this movie. Emotional scenes are wretchedly handled, everything happens with an unreal sense of detachment – as if each actor was gnawing away with doubt about the lines he/she was spouting on the screen. Some actions of a lot of characters are completely unexplained – and things fall into place for the revolutionaries in remarkably convenient ways till the night of the actual assault.

Such a white-washed version of history is a little hard to digest for any intelligent audience – ironically the very same audience this movie is trying to entice. The characters fail to make any connection with the audience because they do not show much more depth than cardboard cutouts. The movie also drags on for the mandatory 3 hours of an Ashutosh Gowariker production. And frankly, the entire second half dedicated to the pursuit and capture of the revolutionaries was quite depressing – it could have been given much less screentime. All it did was to serve as a vehicle to showcase melodramatic deaths of some of the characters. Instead of focusing on their lives

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cardboard movie cutouts said...

Nice movie review i like it