Four years after directing Bullet Raja, Tigmanshu Dhulia returns with a true story of INA and its three soldiers and their trial with Raag Desh. The film stars Kunal Kapoor, Amit Sadh and Mohit Marwah in the lead role. Here's our review of Raag Desh...
What's it about
The movie tells the untold saga of three INA officers Shahnawaz Khan (Kunal Kapoor), Prem Sahgal (Mohit Marwah) and Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon (Amit Sadh), while following the tribunal of the three at the Red Fort conducted by the British army. They have been accused of murder and mutiny. The question is whether they are national heroes or traitors. However their lives depend on various external factors, biggest of it all is the politics between the British Government and Congress.
Kunal Kapoor is an able performer and he proves it here once again. His posture, body language, attitude, aggression are apt and he looks like an army officer. Amit Sadh's portrayal of a brash, hot headed soldier with a perfect Punjabi diction also gives the film a few light hearted as well as whistle worthy moments. However, it was Mohit Marwah, that was a revelation for me. Last seen in Fugly in 2013, I didn't have many expectations from him but he was spot on and there was not a wrong note in his act. Kenneth Desai as Bhulabhai Desai catapults the film with his hard hitting and highly engaging monologue, in the climax when the film starting to falter. Special mention to Kenny Basumatary as Netaji. He looked and acted perfectly in his limited screen time.
Having seen umpteen number of period, as well as patriotic films, Raag Desh is the only movie that is high on factual accuracy and doesn't succumb to the greed of playing to the gallery for which Tigmanshu Dhulia should be applauded. This is also one of the only Bollywood films where you see characters of different ethnicities and nationalities speaking in their own languages rather than speaking butchered and laughable Hindi. So much for authenticity. In fact, the actors not just fit their part to the T, they even look like the original characters they are portraying on screen.
The dialogues of the film will hit you right where it needs to hit. And the recreated version of 'Kadam Kadam Badhaye Jaa' will surely give you goosebumps.
Despite the brilliant performances, detailing and casting, the film suffers due to its slow pacing, especially in the second half and the implementation of few scenes. Also I am a fan of non-linear story-telling but here it often confuses rather than leaving you intrigued or amused. If you are an impatient kind, you might lose the track in the first 20 minutes itself.
The subplots were mostly uncalled for, especially the one featuring a half baked romance between Prem and Laxmi. Also despite its apt detailing the film lags behind other films in the same genre be it The Legend Of Bhagat Singh, Rang De Basanti etc and that's because it isn't as engaging as those films were. The film might also feel like a boring history lesson for those who are of an impatient nature.
What to do
Make no mistake, this is no A Few Good Men, but it is surely a very well researched tale of unsung heroes we may not even be aware of. Bollywood keeps making films on the likes of Mahatma Gandhi or Bhagat Singh, but it's high time we give due credit and respect to the likes of Shah Nawaz Khan, Prem Sahgal, Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon and various others. The film may not be your quintessential Bollywood patriotic drama but despite its various short comings, I'll still recommend it to everyone. Go and watch the unknown and unheard history of Indian independence unfolds in a most realistic way. If not for anything Raag Desh will surely start a discussion and that is enough.
2.5 out of 5
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