By Martin D'Souza, Glamsham Editorial
n any movie, casting plays an important role. Once the script is in place, the director's vision is fleshed out through a casting director who meticulously sifts through an actor's aptitude to adapt to a set role designed especially for that particular film. This task gets even more tedious when it is a period film that you are dealing with.
Honey Trehan deserves a round of applause for bringing together director Bedabrata Pain's vision with a cast that is as different as chalk from cheese but who effortlessly sync in with the dance called CHITTAGONG, which Pain so cleverly and passionately displays on screen. There is immense passion in the work and that is evident from scene one itself. The editing by Aldo Velasco is a lesson in itself.
The film begins with a young lad (Jhunku) of around 23 years of age being chased by the British police, who then goes 'underground' in a tunnel dug by the peasants. From there he narrates the story of CHITTAGONG, which is as gripping and as sensational.
CHITTAGONG is a period flick set in 1929 till 1939 and it traces back the fight of young Indian rebels led by their school teacher Masterda Surya Sen (Manoj Bajpayee). When the decade finally ends, the British have already been dented by this ragtag army who took over CHITTAGONG, only for a day, but did not let the steam go out of their belly.
CHITTAGONG is mainly the story of a 14-year-old lad called Jhunku (Delzad Hiwale), who is ridiculed by his peers for squealing in on them, and impulsively takes on the fight and joins Masterda's army even though he has a bright future beckoning him at Oxford, courtesy Magistrate Wilkinson (Barry John) who has a soft-corner for the boy.
The brilliance of the first scene is supported by the genius in the final scene where the older Jhunku (Vijay Verma), is stopped by Magistrate Wilkinson in the field and is being arrested. The scene soars several notches higher when Jhunku tells the magistrate "Suno". He stands alert thinking he is about to hear something from Jhunku. But then, Jhunku, with a wry smile says, "gaor se" (Carefully). The peasants, who were moving in from the tunnels, have captured the godowns where their harvest has been stored.
As the credits roll, you don't want to leave the theatre. What if you miss another gem? But this is not a commercial blockbuster where an item number will come on screen. But you will be glad you waited. A memorable song, "Ishan" is played. You soon learn that the director has made this film in memory of his 14-year-old son Ishan, who he lost in a tragic road accident.
The characters are very real. Take Pritilata Wadekar, the first female martyr played by Vega Tamotia. She is flawless. So tender, yet steely in her resolve to fight the British. At age 23, she leads a march to storm the European Club to assassinate DIG Charles Johnson.
Delzad Hiwale who plays the young Jhunku is a powerhouse. Confused, scared, wanting to prove a point... all these attributes he displays without a hitch as he syncs in with the character he has to play. As he goes through the grind in prison and then in Andaman and Nicobar Island, he keeps getting information of how his colleagues have lost their life battling the British, which makes his resolve even stronger.
Vijay Verma who plays the older Jhunku bears such a stark resemblance to the younger Jhunku and all the good work done by Delzad is immediately transferred on to Vijay's persona. He carries this weight with ease.
The other cast stand out too. Manoj Bajpayee as the leader gives the right shades to his character. Jaideep Ahlawat, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Barry John, Charles Johnson, Sauraseni Maitra, Chaitali Ghosh, Raj Kumar Yadav along with the others perform brilliantly.
Music by Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy is another ace in this film.
CHITTAGONG is a film that should reach all schools, colleges and corporate houses. It gives you an insight of how the freedom we now enjoy was fought for bravely by youngsters, who put country over self.
It's a must-see film, which should be made tax free.
Rating - 4/5