An uninspiring historical

Producers: Ajay Bijli, Sanjeev Bijli and Sunita A Gowarikar.
Director: Ashutosh Gowarikar.
Cast: Abhishek Bachchan, Deepika Padukone, Sikandar Kher, Vishakha Singh

MUMBAI: Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey is a documentation of the Chittagong Rising, a local chapter during the British regime in India.

Historical films have no takers in Indian cinema since ours is a history of the vanquished and not of the victors. To choose to make a film on such a subject should be considered risky enough and to be able to justify and finally to make it acceptable to the audience is highly impossible. To add to the burden of having chosen this subject, director Ashutosh Gowarikar opts to treat it as a documentary rather than a compact dramatised version.

Based on Manini Chatterjee’s book, ‘Do And Die: The Chittagong Uprising 1930-34’, the film is a snail paced account of the event that makes one feel even the book would be faster moving than the film!

While the Congress continues its campaign against the British Raj, a group of five Chittagong lads led by Abhishek Bachchan, a school master, decides to chart its own course to deal with the British rather than continue their association with the Congress and its non-violent ways. Their way is to ambush five vital points of power of the local British Administration: the railways, the post office cum telephone exchange, the cantonment, the armoury etc. The plan works alright but due to a miscalculation, none of the British personnel could be held hostage, since the day happened to be a Good Friday and all had called in early. Expectedly, the manhunt begins and all rebels are caught to be dealt with mercilessly; apparently, they may have planned for the ambushes but not for the aftermath. 

The first half is entirely devoted to starting from scrap to go on to the enrolment of an army of 56 teenaged school boys, training them (which looks as serious as some kids playing war games!), raising funds to arranging for resources, reconnaissance of targets and detailed planning. This takes its toll on the viewer who would rather get this over and done with quickly.

Also, disappointingly, the execution of the operation, the ambush and destruction of the targets is lightening fast, done like a cakewalk without resistance or dramatics. Post this, the tedium sets in again as the film goes in details of how each group or individuals on the run was caught turn by turn; though they may mean something to the story, they mean nothing to the audience who don’t care if they live or not. Eventually, like it has happened in case of all the martyrs of Indian freedom movement, the heroes are sacrificed at the altar of the British Law.

There is quite an assembly of unknown faces in the cast led by Abhishek Bachchan and Deepika Padukone and they remain unknown since none of them has a scope to stand out by some sort of heroics or sacrifice. Along with few top rung characters, Abhishek Bachchan also has little to do by way of acting and to watch him in dhoti is hardly exciting for his fans. Deepika Padukone is bland.

Direction is lacklustre, falling victim to details rather than coherence and a compact narration; resultantly, nothing in the film evokes either sympathy or patriotism in the viewer. Dialogue is uninspiring and routine. Music lacks appeal. Cinematography is good.

Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey will just end up adding to the big league failure count.

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