A LIGHTHOUSE, SHINING HIGH!
By MovieTalkies.com, 03 December 2010
Infused with patriotic fervour, 'Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey' is both epic and exciting, a sweeping tightly-paced 1930 British India set thriller. The film has no precedent in its style or dramatic enactment, as its patriotism is not jingoistic nor of a nature seen previously on celluloid (it is not even the subtle socialistic patriotism that breathed life through the journey of director Ashutosh Gowariker's Mohan Bhargava in 'Swades', nor the Shart Manzoor Hain heroic patriotic defiance of Gowariker's Bhuvanin Lagaan against the mighty British in an 1890 Champaner India reminiscent of Asterix and Obelisk); Gowariker this time around manages to keep a running subtext that underlines the drama with a national emotional resonance right till the heart-wrenching denouement that will bring a lump to the throat of even the most hardened hearts, while the story actually unfolds as a thriller with the planning and execution of five attacks on the British in a single night and its aftermath, a first for Indian cinema. At a time when our cinema needs true calibre to distinguish itself as an art form rather than a medium of lowest common denominator entertainment, 'Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey' stands as a lighthouse, shining high.
On the eastern edge of British India lies Chittagong, a small port town in the province of Bengal. For a few hours on the night of April 18th 1930, a small force consisting largely of young boys liberated this town from the tyranny of British rule. This force of five experienced revolutionaries, two resolute women - Kalpana and Pritilata, and a group of inexperienced young boys, was led by SurjyaSen, a school teacher by profession.
Together, this band of sixty-four carried out the most daring and successful revolutionary uprising against the British. Their mission was to attack five centers of British power in Chittagong on the same night and liberate the city, waging a war for freedom. The sacrifice and unmatched courage of these young boys touched the hearts of people not just in Chittagong but all over India.
Abhishek Bachchan as Surjya Sen is a revelation, a teacher who will give all that he has for his country, including his very life. A simple man with a goal that is near impossible, his ideals rise above the odds of failure, and he does not hesitate in embracing young comrades for his impossible task to make India truly free, putting together a team that wreaks havoc against the British with clinical precision. Rarely has Bachchan exhibited such restraint, slipping into the skin of the character, and making your heart cry out for Surjya as he reaches his ultimate faith. DeepikaPadukone is also in a completely different avatar compared to her previous roles, donning the Bengali saree convincingly and joining Surjya's band of revolutionaries with a commitment that speaks volumes through minimal lines and dialogue play.
The gripping narrative takes us through every step of the action, from the initial trepidation, to the thrill of the attack, to the underground movement, daring escapes and tragic captures, and most importantly, their undying legacy. Kiran Deohan's lensing and Nitin Desai's production design recreate 1930 British Bengal convincingly, while Sohail Sen's haunting music adds atmosphere to the proceedings (Yeh Des Hai Mera through all its renditions, is pure genius, while the whistle theme of the teenagers remains with you even after the film); and Ravi Dewan's action is raw, almost taking us back to what those muskets and 303 rifles in crossfire would have actually felt like.
A much-needed tribute to the sacrifice of many teenagers who have rarely been written about, the film leaves an indelible mark, and at a time when scams and corrosive corruption permeates the very fabric of Indian governance, and when we seem to have forgotten what brought us this independence, it is the ultimate wake-up call. Sacrifice everything and watch it, and do NOT leave the cinema hall without watching the end titles.