Tag Archives: British Raj

Film Review: Sardar Udham (2021)

The name Sardar Udham is significant for all reasons that shaped the movement for independence from the British Raj. A tragic event that ignited millions of Indians and encouraged them to oppose British Imperialism. Shoojit Sircar‘s latest is a tribute to the national hero who stood for his people and avenged by assassinating Michael O’Dwyer in London, the man who appointed Reginald Dyer to supervise the ever-haunting Jallianwala Massacre.

I refuse to believe that this is an Indian film. I do not claim that Indian or Hindi-language films are that bad but the production of films like this still does not exist. The technical aspects of this film are extremely rich and carefully detailed. Excellent direction and stunning cinematography on many occasions.

Direction and camera work play a vital role if the screenwriting is to be justified, and this film is an example of an absolute masterpiece. Being lengthy is a problem that I will reason later but some portions need time investment and that demand is accomplished in the film. You may say that the time spent on Udham eating at her cousin’s place, his quest for O’Dwyer’s whereabouts, or speaking about freedom alone in the park were needless but I think Shoojit gave such minutes to build a thought about his character that meant a lot on all these occasions.

Vicky Kaushal‘s leading role will neither be criticized nor be pointed for objection because this, for me, will be remembered as one of the best performances in Hindi cinema for this new decade. You feel pain when his portrayal agonizes. There is much discomfort to watch his rage and hatred for British Imperialism and he has perfected that genuity you want to watch in the films about Indian freedom against the British. His tense courtroom scene of justification and in a lengthy struggle of saving many lives after the massacre are the best examples of Vicky’s notable performance.

Another factor that tops Sardar Udham is toning down the stereotypical elements of jingoism and giving rich feelings of sacrifices and excruciating pains of the British cruelty. No larger-than-life action sequences, no cosmetic dialogues. British portrayal and periodic productional set-up are so apt. The chosen actors for the British portrayal have done a fine job. Also, a superb background score by Shantanu Moitra made the mood to the audience.

Being a supporter of global diversity, I have a cordial affection for the name he used during his time in jail, Ram Mohammad Singh Azad. This name has been valued in the film that indicates the unification of the nation for freedom.

I have confusion about historical accuracy because the life of the freedom fighters was either a mystery or detailed with exaggeration. In some places, the readers won’t find strong pieces of evidence or authentic lead in their lives. Take the case of the Jallianwala Massacre; the film shows Udham to arrive late at the scene whereas one book ‘The Trial of Udham Singh’ claims that he was present during the firing. Whereas in other internet sources, there is no agreement on what official stats are about the casualties and survivors from that incident.

Also, there is no evidence of his love interest as shown in the film portrayed by Banita Sandhu. Was it necessary? Of course not. His involvement with Ghadar Party is also missing.

Minus? I’ll say the length of the film. It may be slow-burn to some extent but I am okay with the way the story moved with Udham’s character. The flow was acceptable. But I think the aftermath of the massacre was way too long. I understand the significance of the horror that still haunts millions of Sikhs worldwide but picturizing Udham and other fellows taking the severely injured victims from one place to the other for 20 minutes is overstretched. I actually thought maybe Shoojit stretched that scene so that Udham may eventually locate the body of his love interest but even that was not the case. The obvious ending could have been better.

I must mention the portrayal of the Jallianwala Massacre that was kept on wait after two hours well spent on developing the story and Udham’s character in entirety. Praising a massacre scene would make me foolish or call it great. So choosing my words carefully, I should write this way that the intensity and provocation of that bloodshed were extremely detailed. This scene was deliberately shot violent. The graphic detailing of this three-minute scene full of gunshots and painful cries was more savage than what Lord Attenborough showed in Gandhi. It was a scene that boiled the emotions and broke the hearts. Udham’s commentary about his fury for this incident all this time made his case.

Sardar Udham is an accomplishment in the Indian cinema that distinguishes the filmmaking of freedom-themed nationalist films from most of the others. Sardar Udham may not need to check the historical accuracy whether Udham was there or not. Maybe it is the directional artistry or some kind of representational theory that has been applied to demand an apology from the British government that India is yet to officially receive even after 100 years.

Sardar Udham is the ‘other’ side of a freedom fighter story that hardly any director wishes to direct. This film is about the crime for which the innocents had to pay that was demanding to the British to leave their country once and for all. Sardar Udham is not a film but a reminder to the present generation about what and how their great-great-grandparents suffered in the name of imperialism. Thank you, Shoojit Sircar.

Ratings: 9.2/10

Movie Review: Rang Rasiya (2014)

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Once upon a time there was a painter from Travancore and a very attractive woman. They were destined to meet in their lifetime. One day it happened to be the moment when the painter’s eyes caught the attention of that lady worshiping in the temple. Her beauty inspired the painter to paint God and Goddesses as human beings. He began sketching her in different shade of moods and gifted her a major surprise by meeting her outside the temple. After she saw the sketches, she got attracted to him.

 

This was the time when Hindustan or British India was stuck with the infinite political crisis of seeking independence from British Raj and leaving the colonial prestige. Painting was seen as a token of appreciation towards the painter for his enormous talent of depicting his skills in art of drawing a particular substance. In the painter’s case, he was too broad to be accepted among the conservatives, orthodox and traditional people who believe in more social and moral code over their culture and religion.

Where the printed images of his collections made the common man worship the Gods in their houses, shops and community gatherings, few of them didn’t accept. His paintings of human beings as Hindu Gods or Goddesses enraged a particular community of fundamentalists and the case went to the local court. Till that time, his popularity had reached America and Europe. The painter was India’s finest revolutionary painter, Raja Ravi Verma and the inspirational lady was Sugandha Bai.

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This story is from a biographical novel ‘Raja Ravi Verma’ written by Ranjit Desai. The movie on which this novel is based is ‘Rang Rasiya‘. It is a Hindi-Sanskrit language movie with some doses of English dialogues directed by National Award winning director Ketan Mehta (Mirch Masala, Sardar, Mangal Panday). Randeep Hooda is Raja and Nandana Sen is Sugandha. This movie took 6 years to release due to the certain objection of the Censor Board’s objection with certain bold scenes that involved paint and nudity. The movie shows how the freedom of art conflicts with man-made laws, how religious bigotry disturbs the social momentum.

Selection of Nandana Sen for Sugandha was very fitting as she incidentally was Raja’s fan. When Ketan approached her for the role, he found two of Raja’s paintings at her residence which made this deal more convincing and easy. Nandana will seduce the viewer to a level. Randeep’s selection was a tough one considering the fact that Randeep had to play a 20-year-old and then a sexagenarian.

Despite the fact the direction and dialogues were pretty weak and outdated, what worked for the movie’s complements was above-average performances and terrific background score. Raja-Sugandha chemistry was worth watching, it melt your emotions with paintbrush. Randeep-Nandana have done marvelous job. Costume and art designing was superb and will give you breathing in periodic environment. 

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Overall, Rang Rasiya is a Randeep Hooda show who portrays an exceptional character from the original and gives a feeling of nearness with him when he is riding his journey from highs and lows towards the legendary art. A journey which starts from marrying a princess and ends with why-should-I-tell-you, will make you leave the enthrallment of cruelty and boundary, motivate you to live with your passion and fulfill your burning desire. Being one of the best movie of the year is very debatable but calling Rang Rasiya one of the best art-centric biopic in recent years won’t be bad.  

Rating: 7/10

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