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Bhagat Singh Revolutionary: “The Legend of Bhagat Singh”

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    Bhagat Singh Born: September 27, 1907 Passed Away: March 23, 1931 Contributions Bhagat Singh was among the prominent revolutionaries who shaped the base of a grand national movement. Following his execution, on March 23, 1931, the supporters and followers of Bhagat Singh regarded him as a “Shaheed”, “martyr”. Life Bhagat Singh was born on 27 September 1907 at Banga in Lyallpur district (now Pakistan) to Kishan Singh and Vidya Vati. From his early childhood, Bhagat Singh was imbued with the family’s spirit of patriotism.

    At the time of his birth, his father Kishan Singh was in jail. His uncle, Sardar Ajit Singh, was a great freedom fighter and established the Indian Patriots’ Association… Kishan Singh enrolled Bhagat Singh in Dayanand Anglo Vedic High School. At a very young age, Bhagat Singh started following Non-Cooperation Movement called by Mahatma Gandhi. Bhagat Singh had openly defied the British and had followed Gandhi’s wishes by burning the government-sponsored books. Following the violent incidents of “Chauri Chaura”, Gandhi called for the withdrawal of the Non-Cooperation movement.

    Unhappy with the decision, Bhagat Singh, isolated himself from Gandhi’s nonviolent action and joined the Young Revolutionary Movement. Singh later joined the Hindustan Republican Association, a radical group, later known as the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association. In March 1926, the Naujawan Bharat Sabha was formed with Bhagat Singh, as its secretary. On 30 October 1928, an all-parties procession, led by Lala Lajpat Rai, marched towards the Lahore railway station to protest against the arrival of the Simon Commission. Stopping the procession, police made a lathi charge at the activists.

    The confrontation left Lala Lajpat Rai with severe injuries and also led to his death. As an avenge to the death of Lala Lajpat Rai, Bhagat Singh and his associates plotted the assassination of Scott, the Superintendent of Police, believed to have ordered the lathi charge. The revolutionaries, mistaking J. P. Saunders, an Assistant Superintendent of Police, as Scott, killed him instead. Bhagat Singh quickly left Lahore to escape his arrest. To avoid recognition, he shaved his beard and cut his hair, a violation of the sacred tenets of Sikhism.

    In response to the formulation of Defence of India Act, the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association planned to explode a bomb inside the assembly premises, where the ordinance was going to be passed. On April 8 1929 Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt threw a bomb onto the corridors of the assembly and shouted ‘Inquilab Zindabad! ‘ The bomb was not meant to kill or injure anyone and therefore it was thrown away from the crowded place.

    Following the blasts both Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt courted arrest Trial and Death The British authority, while interrogating them, came to know about their involvement in the murder of J.P. Saunders. Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, and Sukhdev were charged with the murder. Singh admitted to the murder and made statements against the British rule during the trial. While in jail, Bhagat Singh found that the authorities were following a dual policy in treating the prisoners. The criminals of foreign origin were treated better than Indian political prisoners. As a protest, he along with some fellow prisoners declared to “go on hunger strike”. The strike continued for over a month and finally the British had to accept before their conditions.

    Bhagat Singh along with other revolutionaries found responsible for the Assembly bombing and murder of Saunders. On March 23, 1931, Bhagat Singh was hanged in Lahore with his fellow comrades Rajguru and Sukhdev. Singh was cremated at Hussainiwala on banks of Sutlej river.

    The film “The Legend of Bhagat Singh” describes each event chronologically and in depth. Even a kid will understand Bhagat Singh’s ideologies and his movement to free India after watching the film. Rising above the blatant crowd, director Raj Kumar Santoshi crafts an awe-inspiring recreation of Bhagat Singh in the late 1930s in The Legend of Bhagat Singh. Santoshi strikes a terrific balance of epic scale and emotional urgency. I simply cannot begin to describe the number of things in this movie that made the hair on my hand stand on end, right till the end. This film begins with the dead bodies of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev (Sushant Singh) and Rajguru being sneakily taken out of a jail and burnt.

    The reprehensible act creates an outrage among the public. The emotional upheaval for the audience begins when with a flashback we are transported to the younger Bhagat Singh who visits Jalian Wallah Bagh and visualises the horror of the senseless murder of innocent people. It goes on to show how he grows up with hatred in his heart for the British, how he befriends Sukhdev Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad in Cawnpore (now Kanpur) and Rajguru from Maharashtra; The scene then takes us to how . Bhagat Singh avenges the death of Rai by killing Sanders a junior officer who had attacked Rai too and how his ideals of a free country shaped his philosophy and work.

    The detailing of the events that led to his eventual martyrdom is narrated rather interestingly with images and visuals that remain long in the memory. , Bhagat Singh surrenders to the British, in hope of pursuing the revolution through the media. Singh sings a lovely patriotic-to-the-core song “Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna” to lift up the spirits of his fellow jailbirds cum freedom fighters. The British execute Bhagat Singh and his companions (Sukhdev – Sushant Singh, Raj Guru – D Santosh) but not the patriotic spirit of the Indians.

    The entire ambience of the era — the British Raj at its peak, the Congress Party led anti-British struggle, the joining of the Hindustan Republican Army by Bhagat Singh and its evolution into the Hindustan Socialist Republican Army, the spirit and motivation to defy the British at any cost, the use of the court room to propagate his fiery call to the nation, and the use of violence as self-defence, and of course his fast-unto-death (till jail inmates are given better food and hygienic conditions) which brings the British Government to its knees!

    You need to see it to feel its effectiveness. Asks Anjum Rajabali, who writes the script and screenplay, “Why do I need to participate in yet another film that could be dominated by filmy patriotism? ” But adds, “when I started reading K. K. Khullar’s biography of Bhagat Singh and the recent book by Kuldip Nayar, I was hooked. And I realised I was not the only one. When Bhagat went to jail for the Assembly bomb explosion on April 8, 1929, no one apart from his comrades and family knew of him.

    But just two and a half months later, Bhagat Singh Day was being observed throughout the country. The official history of the Indian National Congress by Pattabhi Seetaramiah admits, that there was a time (1929-30) when his popularity was equal to that of Mahatma Gandhi! ” An element the film shows with great glee. In fact the Mahatma appears in rather poor light — a man who does not really agree with Bhagat Singh’s methods of repelling the British, and makes little effort to secure pardon for the three condemned men — Bhagat, Sukhdev and Rajguru.

    And yes, a Britisher wouldhate to see the film for its depiction of their rulers and their policies then! Almost entirely in sepia and brown tones, the film to some extent has created the period feel (art direction by Nitin Chandrakant Desai) effectively. Raj Kumar Santoshi, the director, and K. V. Anand (camera) capture the essence of the locations to show the bleakness and the darkness of those times. Agra with the Taj Mahal in the background, Lahore and Calcutta are some of the places that figure.

    The narrative of the film depends on the history lessons that we had as kids to understand what is happenning sometimes. (But this was only sometimes though) – Like when they show Subhash Chandra Bose – we have to decipher – becuase he looks remarkably like him – but to the younger generation – they wouldn’t know. The best part was the enthusiasm shown by the gang of freedom fighters – their friendship , their despair, their struggle came through wonderfully – full marks to santoshi for having transported the audience to a different era.

    Probably there could not have been anyone more sensitive than A. R. Rahman to add to this mood. The songs (with lyrics by Sameer), rooted in Punjabi folk, serve more as the background than as separate elements except on one occasion. They create a sense of melancholy sweeping the viewers through its flourishes, chords and notes. “Sarfaroz Ki Tammana”, the slow version, begins ballad-like and moves to a faster pace with cellos and other string instruments, providing a piercing tone of sadness.

    It is not brilliant music, but it moves you. Contrary to the popular expectations, it is amazing to see Ajay Devgan as Bhagat Singh. His performance is simply top rate, although his accent at times seems to have gone with the flow. He gives a striking performance as the likeable Indian patriotic hero. D Santosh also delivers, as does the rest of the fine cast. As you would expect, the background music and scores from Rahman are splendid and touching in many a scene.

    There is a host of other talented artistes who make this a film to remember — Akhilendra Mishra as Chandrashekhar Azad, Raj Babbar as Kishen Singh, Bhagat’s father (does a very poignant scene when he meets his son in jail), Farida Jalal as his mother, excels especially when she bids goodbye to her condemned son and Amrita Rao as the girl who wants to marry him — though one does not know if the romantic angle did really exist!

    The surprise package was Sushant Singh as Sukhdev – he was just great and matched one on one with Ajay Devgan. The action scenes could have been done better – that’s where the movie falters. Santoshi has crafted a poignant, well-paced film that brings to life an Indian hero most of us know mainly through history lessons and books. Whether or not “The Legend of Bhagat Singh” is historically accurate in detail is not really important.

    That it convey a sense of time, place and importance is what matters, and that it does. What is also important to remember is that when a movie is as well made as this one, it not only entertains, but educates as well; there is inspiration here that may well become the impetus that leads one to other sources for factual accounts of the revolutionary war led by Bhagat Singh. This is the importance of good movies, and it’s all a part of the magic of the cinema.

    THIS IS probably something for the youth, politicians of today and those who wish well for this country —Forget the fact that there are too many films dealing with the same subject, that rhetoric and theatrics are something we have to live with in most Hindi films and that patriotism sells. Tips Films’ “The Legend Of Bhagat Singh” reminds you of all the sacrifices, losses, courage and selflessness that today seems a wasted exercise — considering how communal carnage, hate propaganda, fundamentalist ideals are making a mockery of what the freedom fighters fought for.

    Who is Bhagat Singh, we may well ask. History does not seem to accord undue space to this martyr from Punjab other than the fact that he died at the age of 23 for the ideal of a free India. But it takes a well-marketed film to tell us in a dramatic fashion, about this revolutionary, whose ideals could turn a turbulent nation today towards true equality, secularism and rationality. He was someone who had foreseen the dangers of fundamentalism, of allowing religion to be used as a political tool. He felt if it were brought into politics, it would tear a secular society to fragments!

    The film has its excellent moments. And some flaws which you may want to overlook considering the fact that it is not easy to hold the emotional interest of the audience for close to three hours. “The Legend of Bhagat Singh” is an emotionally charged, action packed, memorable patriotic film that is at once both intimate and of epic proportions. It is artistically rendered, beautifully photographed, and well acted; I just don’t think there’s a whole lot more you can ask of a movie. This is absolutely one that should not be missed.

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