There are a million reasons why any director decides to make a film but try as hard as you might you’d never be able to understand what inspired Ashutosh Gowariker to make Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey. Inspired by true events that took place 80 years ago, Gowariker’s film shows a complete lack of passion that is usually associated with his films.
Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey Story
Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey is about a bunch of motivated young men spurred on by Surjya Sen (Abhishek Bachchan) who stunned the British Empire by a series of raids in Chittagaon. Based on Manini Chatterjee’s Do and Die: The Chittagong Uprising 1930-34 the film starts with a bunch of teenagers who are shunned away from their football field by British soldiers who set up a camp on their playground. Irritated by their ruler’s high headedness the boys trace Surjya Sen (Abhishek Bachchan), a school teacher and a known revolutionary, and ask him to get their field back. Surjya promises to do something but a few days later the boys show up again only this time enraged by the enough to want more than just their football ground- freedom. Deciding to take up arms against the British Surjya convinces his comrades to include the boys in their army’s plan of attacking the British armory and taking over Chittagong.
For a story and characters that are as real as the day Gowariker’s screenplay fails to make the viewer connect with what’s happening on the screen. A story spread over four years ends up looking like a disjointed television show that is forced upon you. Gowariker splits the tale of the uprising in two distinctive parts and while choosing to devote much of the screen time to the build-up isn’t a bad choice, the execution ends up being half-baked. Gowariker’s screenplay lays great stress on long and, at times, rather boring ‘training’ sequences where the transformation of aimless teenagers into impassioned freedom fighters hardly comes across.
Inspiring to be an honor to a forgotten chapter in Indian history, Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey had a great foundation in the form of Chatterjee’s book but Gowariker’s apparent lack of interest especially in the first half of the film makes it a failed opportunity. Leave aside the fact that the characters of Kalpana Dutta (Deepika Padukone) and Pritilata Waddadar (Vishakha Singh), who join Sen and his army, are not fully explored but what’s strange is that they are treated like props. The years that followed the uprising were as important as the event and yet in the second half Gowariker simply breezes through the vital episodes, like the attack on Pahartali and the entire underground resistance.
Loose Points in Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey
Besides the lackluster screenplay the all round acting also lets Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey down. Bachchan plays Sujya Sen with strange conviction and has an almost idiotic grin for the better part of the film, Padukone looks lost and Sikander Kher who plays Nirmal forgets to change his expression on cue. All the main actors have such pronounced nuances that the film looks staged and theatrical. Some of the boys in the supporting cast provide great moments like the one towards the end of the film where four of them take their own lives before being caught by the British.
Unlike Bryan Singer’s Valkyrie, where even though all the characters are German and yet they speak non-accented English, Gowariker decides to use heavy Bengali accent that is almost funny. Everyone seems to have a roshogolla in their mouth while speaking their lines and try as hard as you might you will crack up when someone says ‘Kolpona’ ‘Shurrrrjo’, ‘Gonesh’; either the actors should have been guided by accent and dialogue coaches or Gowariker should have stuck to plain Hindi.
For a director who raised the benchmark when it came to firang actors portraying pivotal characters in Hindi cinema (Captain Russell from Lagaan), Gowariker, strangely enough, settles for mediocre and downright unconvincing actors who play the British. Hardly viewing the entire episode from the other side, Gowariker’s complete blas depiction of the British officers steals the fervor from Sen and his comrades. Imagine Bob Christo trying to go serious and you’ll get an idea how bad the foreigners in Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey.
Final Words on Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey
Like all Ashutosh Gowariker films Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey is blessed with a great production design and the detailing of the period is impeccable but like What’s Your Raashee the music, once again, takes a beating. Sohail Sen’s music manages to evoke traces of AR Rahman and the title track isn’t all that bad but the score lacks the punch and his non-stop background score bludgeons the senses.
There are some scenes towards the end that really hit you in the gut but that’s all there is to Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey. What’s sad is the fact that Manini Chatterjee’s prologue packs in more than Gowariker’s entire film. Gowariker’s indifferent and apathetic approach makes you feel angry and cheated. If a true story about a bunch of teenagers led by an idealistic teacher who laid down their lives for a dream that most would have been dismissive of can’t evoke passion in the viewer then I don’t know what would.
Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey Cast: Abhishek Bachchan, Deepika Padukone, Sikander Kher, Vishakha Singh and others.
Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey Written by: Ashutosh Gowariker based on Manini Chatterjee’s book on Do and Die: The Chittagong Uprising 1930-34
Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey Directed by: Ashutosh Gowariker
Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey Ratings: 2 / 5
Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey Genre: Drama / Thriller / Suspense
Source by Gautam Chintamani