In the struggle for freedom, there were many unsung heroes who never made it to the history books. Raag Desh is the story of those heroes, who were tried at the Red Fort which added fuel to the fire of independence. Tigmanshu Dhulia directorial Raag Desh featuring Kunal Kapoor, Amit Sadh, and Mohit Marwah as I.N.A soldiers Shah Nawaz Khan, Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon and Prem Sehgal, gives goose bumps on some occasions but educates on most. These three soldiers were accused of treason and murder by the Britsh government and their infamous trial in Delhi started a movement.
Without wasting time to dwell over the atrocities of British, Dhulia gets straight to the point. Within minutes into the film, the plot is established, the protagonists are introduced and the foundation is built. The three soldiers have their chest swelled up, have a sparkle in their eyes and the conversations show their belief in Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. Kenny Basumatary plays the role of Bose and does a convincing job at it. He mouths the popular slogans of Netaji, be it, ‘Delhi Chalo’ or ‘Tum Muje Khun Do, Main Tumhe Azaadi Doonga’, with conviction.
Raag Desh is as much about the supporting cast of the film, as it is about the protagonists. The director ensured to stay true to the story by bringing all elements of history- whether it was the Bengal famine, the clash of ideologies of Congress and Muslim League or the divide and rule policy which the British were using. Kenny Desai as lawyer Bhulabhai Desai, Kanwaljit Singh as Mohit’s father and Mrudula Murali as Mohit’s love interest and Vijay Verma, make the story stronger.
The dearth of war drama is quite evident in Bollywood and Raag Desh tries to fill the void. The scenes in which INA soldiers gaze at their defeat from the British Indian Army or the ones in which Gurbaksh (Amit Sadh) gets teary eyed after seeing his Indian brothers killed in war depict the mindset of warriors. The lead actors of the film, Kunal, Amit and Mohit try hard to show camaraderie among soldiers. While Kunal and Amit are friends whose exchange of jibes brings a smile few times in this serious film, Mohit is a misfit in the group. As Gurbaksh Singh, the hot headed soldier who doesn’t think twice before picking up a fight with a British soldier, Amit does a decent job. However, the patriotic dialogues seem forced.
Prem Sehgal’s love story provides with a brief joy in this war film which mostly talks about sacrifices and bloodshed. Shah Nawaz Khan has the most difficult job since he had to fight members from his own family in the war, and Kunal Kapoor’s demeanor gives an insight into it.
Raag Desh is not a film which will instil an immediate sense of patriotism in you, but the regimental march song Qadam Qadam Badhaaye Jaa, will give you goosebumps. The way Raag Desh talks about communal harmony will make you feel sorry for the current state of affairs. And more than all of this, the movie will teach you about those chapters of history which you should know but didn’t have any idea about.
If you hoping to see an amazing courtroom drama featuring grand speeches of patriotism, you would be disappointed. In a bid to teach a lot about history, the movie turns into a classroom and can appear a little stretched and boring in parts.
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