‘Raag Desh’ Review: Not Your Usual Patriotic Bollywood Film
(Photo Courtesy: Raag Desh poster)
(Photo Courtesy: Raag Desh poster)

‘Raag Desh’ Review: Not Your Usual Patriotic Bollywood Film

Tigmanshu Dhulia’s latest directorial venture brings us a lesson in history about the Indian National Army (INA) and Subhash Chandra Bose’s efforts during the freedom struggle.

We follow the Red Fort Trials of 1945, during which three officers of the INA – Colonel Prem Sehgal, Colonel Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon and Major Shah Nawaz Khan – were courtmartialed. The three were accused by the British government of being traitors and Japanese stooges.

Till date, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s death remains shrouded in mystery, and Tigmanshu Dhulia steers clear of this controversy.

Also Read: Critics’ Verdict: ‘Raag Desh’ Is Important But Not Engaging Enough

What he focuses on instead is the predicament of the Indian soldiers as they find themselves in a tough position, where fighting for the freedom of their motherland also means killing their own brothers and countrymen.

During the Second World War, when the British were defeated by the Japanese forces, some 40,000 Indian soldiers surrendered to Japan. These men later came under Subhash Chandra Bose, whose leadership gave birth to the INA.

Be it recreating the tense world of pre-Independence India, or the well-written dialogues that convey the precarious power struggle between the Congress party and the British, Dhulia’s brilliant eye for detail that lends this film potency.

Mohit Marwah, Amit Sadh and Kunal Kapoor, who play Sehgal, Dhillon and Shah Nawaz respectively, have mastered both the body language and the accents of their characters.

Sequences, like the one where Colonel Sehgal’s father (Kanwaljeet Singh) tries to convince Bhula Bhai Desai to take up the case, play out with controlled urgency as details bleed out slowly. It definitely makes for compelling viewing.

Kenneth Desai’s performance in the courtroom scenes is impressive and measured.

The casting is on point. Kenny Basumatary as Subhash Chandra Bose, Mrudula Murali as Captain Lakshmi Swaminathan and Vijay Varma as journalist Jamal Kidwai, who travels to Rangoon to understand the workings of the INA, are all promising additions.

Patriotic films generally run the risk of being saddled with jingoistic nationalism. But that’s not the case with this film.

Tigmanshu Dhulia's steady hold on the narrative definitely makes this film worth a watch.

I give it 3.5 quints out of 5.

Also Read: Of War, History and Bose: Kunal Kapoor Opens up on ‘Raag Desh’

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