When you type the words ‘The Forgotten Army’ on Google, the first result that shows up is the Kabir Khan directorial of the same name with an initial release of 1999. This is because Kabir had made the documentary The Forgotten Army — Azaadi Ke Liye for Doordarshan in 1999. This was long before the filmmaker made his Bollywood debut with the 2006 John Abraham and Arshad Warsi starrer Kabul Express. Years later, Kabir is revisiting the same story of the Subhash Chandra Bose led Indian National Army (INA). And it is a worthwhile revisit for the most part.
Consisting of merely five episodes, The Forgotten Army is a well-crafted drama that dramatises the events that led to the formation of the INA and the consequences thereafter. What is important to note is that Kabir Khan had stated in an Amazon Prime Video interview that history has been recreated and not fictionalised per se, which is something that doesn’t happen often in the Hindi entertainment industry. What also lends a narrative depth to the plot is that it frequently switches between two timelines — one of the 1940s (which boasts of some archival footage and credible cinematography) and the other in the late 90s amidst a student protest in Burma. The transition between the two timelines is smooth, and the idea of a story that is embedded within a larger story never leaves the room. This makes the viewing more exciting.
Sunny Kaushal’s character Captain Sodhi and Sharvari’s Maya are inspired by two army veterans — Captain Lakshmi Sehgal and Colonel Dhillon. And this is perhaps one of the reasons why they feel rooted in reality. What lends these acts another dimension is that they have been dealt with precision and honesty by actors Sunny Kaushal and newcomer Sharvari. The supporting cast does what is required of them ably. And the release of the show which speaks in some detail about the idea of journalism, patriotism and students protests is noteworthy, especially considering the present state of the country. While some sequences do drag a bit and seem a bit over-the-top, it is interesting to see a show which espouses the idea of patriotism, and not nationalism.
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