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Review by : Behindwoods review board
Starring: Abhishek Bachchan, Deepika Padukone and other revolutionaries
Direction: Ashutosh Gowariker
Music: Sohail Sen
Production: Ajay & Sanjeev Bijli and Sunitha Gowariker

The Chittagong Uprising is a relatively unknown episode in Indian history. Ashutosh Gowariker deserves a special word of appreciation for having chosen an inspiring story and presented it on screen. Though he has directed historical and periodic movies like Lagaan and Jodhaa Akbar,
Swades remains his most patriotic movie thus far as it was a contemporary take on love for the country.

In KHJJS, a youngster asks his friend what Vande Maataram means. Though a few of them remain ignorant, one of them says "Vande Maataram... bolne me acha lagta hai na? (isn't it nice to say it?). This comes from the heart of a director, a person who realises that today's youngsters know more about Western history than ours. KHJJS is an adaptation of Manini Chatterjee's 'Do and Die'.

It is about Surjya Sen (Abhishek) and his aides who decide to attack the heart of the ruling British in Chittagong by planning simultaneous attacks in 5 places on April 18, 1930. By recruiting an army of revolutionaries, the attacks are made possible by shrewd planning. But little do they know that an obstacle awaits them at the time of the attacks. Do they succeed in their quest? What happens to Surjya Sen and his young group of associates who volunteered to sacrifice their lives for the freedom of India? Find the answers by watching the movie only in cinema halls!

Ashutosh is among a rare breed of directors who relentlessly gives us movies by digging our treasured history. Here again, he brings the charm of Chittagong in Goa through some meticulous research. Watch the end credits and you will know why! Since most of us are not aware or have read Manini Chatterjee's novel, it will not be prudent to judge if KHJJS is a pure adaptation. But one feels that Ashutosh slips a little with an incoherent screenplay, especially in the first half. What irks here is the postcard-perfect shots, whiter-than-white kurtas of the leads and well delivered stage-perfect dialogues. Though the art direction and detailing are perfect, you somehow fail to connect with the story.

The second half is gripping and definitely coveys what the director first set out to do. The intense struggle of the bravehearts, the British's carnivorous search for the revolutionaries and the eventual happenings make you sit up and move forward with the narrative. Music in such historical movies needs to be point perfect. Sohai Sen's music is too amateurish and does not appeal at all. It is often repetitive and fails to conjure our instincts.

Occurrences in the first half are very sporadic. Dilip Deo's editing could have been tight and slick. Dialogues again seem to be very common and something which does not evoke the right amount of patriotism. Scenes which involve Abhishek to ignite fire in the revolutionaries fall flat. If Deepika is called Kalpana in a scene, she is 'Kolpona' in the other. The characters also seem confused whether to speak Hindi or Bengali and hence the authenticity is missing here.

Cinematography by Kiran Deohans and Seetha Sandhiri are up to the mark. They bring the small village of Chittagong to life with their dynamic shots. Art director Nitin Chandrakant Desai must also be appreciated for his work. A lot of effort has been spent in research and to get the detailing in each shot right. Good job!

Performance-wise, Abhishek Bachchan is the biggest disappointment of the lot. With his sober expressions and sparkling-white kurta and dhotis, he cuts a sorry figure. He fails to show the fire in his eyes to ignite the passion in others. He seems happier to let others steal the show with their performances. A rather uninspiring leader! Deepika Padukone does well in the role given to her. But the stand-out performances come from the rest of the cast. Vishaka Singh as Pritilata is a revelation. The emotions she displays in her eyes are indeed nice. Sikhander Kher as Nirmal Sen steals our heart with his performance and so do Mahinder Singh, Shreyas Pandit and others. The young lads do a handsome job as the 'krantikaris'.

Overall, KHJJS could have been hard-hitting if it had a cohesive screenplay, inspiring music and compulsive dialogues. In spite of all this, the movie must be watched for one person: Ashutosh Gowariker. His tenacious passion for showcasing Indian history must be lauded. The way he ignites the passion in the second half definitely warrants a dekho.

Verdict: Salute the heroes, 80 years on! Vande Maataram.

Tags : Abhishek Bachchan, Deepika Padukone, Sohail Sen, Javed Akhtar, Ajay Bijli ,Ashutosh Gowariker
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