Movie Review: Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey (Hindi) 116

When I saw the station ‘Masterda Surya Sen’ on Kolkata Metro sometime ago, little did I know about his history or the fact that he was a freedom fighter! That our mainstream history text books don’t talk about it makes this a little piece of history obscure. Revisiting history for the third time, Ashutosh Gowariker brings to the big screen, Manini Chatterjee’s book Do or Die on the Chittagong Uprising of 1930.

Abhishek Bachchan portrays Surya Sen, a revolutionary who along with his associates puts together a band of patriotically motivated teenagers and trains them for a planned synchronized attack on key bastions of the British Raj in Chittagong. They are assisted by two women, Kalpana Dutta (Deepika Padukone) and Pritilata Waddedar.

Some of the scenes, mostly shot in Goa are well done, including those in the aftermath of the attack on the cantonment in which the young revolutionaries are hunted down in the jungles is particularly moving. Despite losses, the protagonist masterminds an attack on the European club; the ripples of which reached London’s powers that be.

To his credit, the filmmaker didn’t make a mockery of the story, a la Ketan Mehta’s Mangal Pandey: The Rising. But rather than plain enactment of history, the audience would have wished to know more about the persona of Masterda, his motivation for the freedom struggle and his choice to rope in impressionable teens.

Despite best intentions, ‘Khelein Hum..’ neither has excitement of ‘Lagaan’ which was also an anti-gora period flick, nor the management lessons that it packed in. In reality, putting together 64 boys against a powerful empire was no mean achievement!

Surya Sen’s character surely deserved better than a clean shaven Abhishek Bachchan mouthing lines sans passion. Deepika deglamorized, was no less stunning, but the script didn’t have much for her; the romance between the lead pair seems forced too.

Best performances come from the likes of Sikander Kher who played Nirmal Sen and others who played Ganesh Ghosh, Ananta Singh and Ambika Chakraborty. Those who played Englishmen were horribly miscast; the lesser said the better.

Although this is among Gowariker’s least lengthy movies, a bit more scissor-work was needed. Sohail Sen’s music is bland when pitted against the memorable tracks that marked Gowariker’s earlier hits. The breathtaking cinematography too is missing.

So, if this all about a lengthy tale with bad acting and not many melodious songs, then why watch this movie? That’s because, Gowariker, in a way, pays tribute to those martyrs of a little known story and there is a sense of sincerity in the way the story is told. If you have three hours to spare, you may give this history lesson a chance.

Rating 6/10: Never mind bad acting, we get to learn about a little known story!