Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Se


Surjya Sen (played here by Abhishek Bachchan) was one of the lesser-known revolutionaries who triggered an uprising against the British Raj in Chittagong, thus inspiring others to also fight for freedom. He used a motley group of teenagers and young adults and planned a meticulous attack on the key strongholds of British power. However, things went wrong, but the fearless Surjya was undaunted. He valiantly fought to the last, and finally achieved martyrdom.

Biopics, especially of lesser-known names, need careful handling. Stories of freedom fighters and the struggle for Independence have an intrinsic quotient of excitement and thrills and the narration must match, from the aspects of script and dialogues to the visuals. The synergy is thus all-too-vital through the screenplay, direction, cinematography, background music and editing as also the authentic research and detailing.

It is in this vital collaboration that Kheley Hum Jee Jaan Se — especially when the importance attached to our freedom fighters and interest in them is dwindling by the year — falls short. The research may be well-done, ditto the detailing, thanks to co-writer Manini De, who is related to Sen’s associate Kalpana Dutta (portrayed by Deepika Padukone). But the screenplay plods, thus resulting in a dreary narrative that simply does not hold the viewer. There is virtually no sequence where we are engrossed in what is happening, or even thrilled to the seat’s edge. There is no narrative or visual thunderbolt, and while some details are unnecessarily elaborate, key aspects are glossed over — how do the revolutionaries acquire the first samples of each rifle or revolver? What explanations do the young boys give to their families about their prolonged absences from home? How do the authorities, in the absence of traitors, come to know everytime where the key conspirators and Surjya are hiding? And why is firing resorted to when the freedom fighters can quietly escape in the precious minutes available to them when attacked? All this becomes even less convincing when we realise that this is the recount of a true story, and so explanations — convincing ones — must actually exist.

Gowariker’s direction, once again, is self-indulgent, and brevity has no place in his scheme of things. The emotional connect is also not there. He casts his actors with an eye for the physical appearance of the real players, but the acting in some cases falls short. Patently sincere, Abhishek Bachchan still seems uncomfortable in key sequences where he simply cannot show the intensity required. Deepika Padukone has little to do and sparkles in a sequence or two. From the supporting cast, Vishakha Singh shines as Pritilata, Kalpana’s friend. Sikandar Kher as Nirmal, Maninder as Anant, Feroz Wahid Khan as Loknath and Shreyas Pandit as Ambika are the most impressive, along with all the young boys.

Sohail Sen’s song and background score are competent but the songs lack punch. Technically, the film is non-gimmicky. But the bland fare could have been infused with more spirit and shortened at least by 30 minutes.

Rating: **
One star for the noble intention of highlighting unknown freedom fighters and one for the performances.
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This post was submitted by Mudit Agrawal.

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