Set in 1957 British India, Mangal Pandey (Aamir) a sepoy in the East India Company saves Capt William Gordon’s life thus earning his friendship cutting across race and rank. Things get worse when Company introduces a new Cartridge allegedly greased with Cow and Pig fat, hurting both Hindu and Muslim sentiments. Mangal Pandey’s reaction and the start of the Sepoy Mutiny is a known piece from History. Other characters include Prostitute Heera (Rani) and a rescued Sati victim Jwala (Ameesha)
Mangal Pandey, in the movie has been projected as the Forerunner of India’s freedom struggle and one who was chivalrous with prostitutes. While people from the Hero’s village have reportedly disagreed to him being portrayed as a drunkard and man who visited prostitutes, the British don’t seem to have liked their portrayal as being brutal.
Some historians call Mangal an accidental hero; a casteist man facing societal rejection of having bitten Cow/Pig fat-greased cartridge reacted against the British, thus forcibly triggering the revolt much earlier than it was planned. Mangal’s casteist notions are visible when Heera tries to touch him and he asks her ‘What Caste are you?’ There are many who say that Mangal, an obedient sepoy of the company reacted more out of religious sentiments than out of any patriotic fervour. Surely, Ketan Mehta could have could have learnt how to make History Films from Hollywood’s Braveheart.
Ketan Mehta of Holi & Mirch Masala fame claims to have research two years on this subject. I can’t believe that he has turned up with such a poor script after all those years. The best ‘actors’ of Bollywood Aamir & Rani have been thoroughly wasted with half baked poorly researched roles. Toby Stephens better known as the villain in the 007 flick Die Another Day is the only one to have a well scripted role and has done exceedingly well. His dialogue delivery in Hindi and his dedicated performance are noteworthy.
Music is average with ill timed songs disturbing the pace of the movie. The Holi song is the most misplaced of all. Rahman has done a Mediocre job on this movie with ‘Mangala Mangala’ and ‘Vari Vari’ being the creamier of the lot.
Rating: 3/5 – Bad Research & Weak Script. Great Costumes & Locales save the Movie.