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Saturday, December 04, 2021

Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey

‘Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey’ re-creates a near-forgotten chapter of the beginning of the freedom struggle.

Written by Shubhra Gupta | Mumbai |
December 3, 2010 9:47:14 am

Director: Ashutosh Gowariker

Cast: Abhishek Bachchan,Deepika Padukone,Vishakha Singh,Sikander Kher,Amin Gazi

Rating: **1/2

One historic night in 1930,a bunch of young Chittagong revolutionaries shook the British Empire. Led by idealistic teacher Surjya Sen and his loyal band,they attacked key parts of the town in a manner that declared their intention of throwing the invaders out of their country.

Ashutosh Gowariker’s ‘Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey’ re-creates a near-forgotten chapter of the beginning of the freedom struggle,which took place in a small town in undivided Bengal. You can’t fault Gowariker’s sincerity of purpose : this is a story,based on Manini Chatterjee’s book ‘Do And Die,The Chittagong Uprising 1930-34’,that needs telling. But you can also see,in its execution,the gaps between the intention and the final product : the book’s gripping characters and its rousing patriotic tale never comes fully alive on screen.

For one,the film’s inordinate length,especially the stretched-out first half,works against it. It is important to set the scene,and introduce each of the characters,but it is a crime to take so much time and come up with characters so pallid : the lead pair specially,Surjya Sen and Kalpana Datta ( Bachchan and Padukone),are the most indeterminate,made up somewhat by the supporting cast,mainly Pritilata Wadedar ( Singh). We can understand big-budget compulsions to go with big stars,but why not those who can fill in their parts with fervour and passion? Bachchan’s single-toned furrowed brow and Padukone’s twin plaits are not enough.

For another,the mixed accents are bothersome. There are two ways to do this. Either get all your characters to practice with an accents coach so they can credibly handle the smattering of Bangla,or junk it altogether. Better that than to have people round their mouths and say a forced ‘Kolpona’. It is downright annoying,and it militates against the authentic look of the film : the scenarists have done a great job in getting it just right.

What gives this film power is the way it finishes up. The police are after the revolutionaries,and as they weed them out,a few at a time,the real tragedy of so much loss of young life—there were more than fifty fiery teenagers in the bunch—is brought home. Shots ring out,blood is spilled,and people are killed. This was the cost of revolution,and our freedom.

shubhragupta@expressindia.com

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