Set in British India, ‘Chittagong’ revolves around a 14-year-old boy, Jhunku, and his journey towards becoming a life-long freedom fighter.
‘Chittagong’ is a very well-made history-based film. Earnest performances from the cast, including Manoj Bajpayee, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Raj Kumar Yadav and the young boy Delzad Hiwale. Writer-director Bedabrata Pain makes a sparkling debut. The kids were splendid too.
14-year-old Jhunku Roy (Delzad Hiwale) had a comfortable life ahead of him. Having an influential British, Wilkinson (the wonderful Barry John), as a mentor, Jhunku had his eyes set on further education at the Oxford University in London. An untoward incident, which leads to the murder of one of the revolutionaries in Surya Sen’s (Manoj Bajpayee) team, incites Jhunku in taking up arms against the British. So, despite the disapproval of his parents, Jhunku joins Surya Sen and the rest of his team. Their first significant conquest is the Chittagong Armoury Raid on April 18, 1930. However, the British soon suppress the army and regain their ascendancy at Chittagong. The rest of the film is about Jhunku’s self-discovery. Surya Sen plays more of a mentor’s role in the film. The rest of the revolutionaries Nirmal Sen (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), Lokenath Bal (Raj Kumar Yadav) and Anant Singh (Jaideep Ahlawat) play their parts excellently.
The most intriguing aspect about the film was that ‘Chittagong Uprising’ is an incident that has not been taught to most of us in our history books. If at all, there is a brief mention of Surya Sen. So, the subject chosen is an important one. Kudos to the director Bedabrata Pain (who is a former NASA scientist with 87 patents to his name) for not incorporating any unnecessary element in the film to make it more 'commercially viable'! History wise, the film stays true to the actual events. The clipping that appears at the end of the film is awe-inspiring. It briefly talks about every significant part of the team followed by a message from the real-life Jhunku himself. That 5-minute-clipping gives you a better perspective about the men who mattered. The film has been shot terrifically by Eric Zimmerman. The art-direction could have been a lot better with a higher budget. However, looking at the relatively small scale at which they’ve made the film, it is a job well done! The patriotic fervour wasn’t quite there. You would expect a film, based on freedom struggle, to arouse feelings of patriotism within you. This film didn’t quite strike that chord till the 5-minute-clipping at the end. Still, ‘Chittagong’ merits at least one watch since it’s a subject that a lot of us are unaware about.
Sure, we know our Mahatma Gandhis, Bhagat Singhs, Mangal Pandeys! Let’s get to know the Surya Sens too!