Movie review: Chittagong (2012)
A little-known but hugely significant chapter of the Indian freedom struggle constitutes the narrative kernel of Chittagong, scientist-turned-filmmaker Bedabrata Pain’s directorial debut. As far as period sagas go, this is anything but average fare.
This simple, sure-handed and easy-flowing film strikes no false notes, nor does it fall prey to any creative ambiguity. The director knows exactly what he wants to mine from the pages of history and he extracts just the right degree of dramatic energy from the tale of intense conflict that lies at the heart of the film.
Pain’s approach to the rousing saga of a band of gutsy men and boys who had the British rulers on the run, if only briefly, in Chittagong in the early 1930s – the selfsame story that Ashutosh Gowariker brought to the screen in Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey far less effectively – is refreshingly realistic and clear-headed.
Set in the turbulence of the 1930s British India, Chittagong is a true story of a 14-year-old boy Jhunku [Delzad Hiwale] and his journey to find where he belongs. For the first time in Indian history, the British army is defeated by an army of schoolboys and their teacher, Masterda [Manoj Bajpayee]. Called a traitor by his peers, and let down by a man he trusts, Jhunku impulsively joins the movement.
As his world is turned upside down, Jhunku is forced to confront his self-doubts. As the leaders of the movement are caught or killed, Jhunku battles against seemingly insurmountable odds to win a victory of his own.