Ashutosh Gowariker is back to familiar territory with KHJJS, it has a similar 'Underdog vs Goliath' scenario as the entertaining Lagaan (2001). It also has, like the Oscar nominated movie, an impressive ensemble cast. Only, this one happened for real.
On April 18,1930, a band of young teenagers and revolutionaries led by Surjya Sen, (Abhishek Bachchan) a school teacher) attacked five main centres of British-ruled Chittagong (In undivided Bengal), in order to wrestle control and drive away the rulers, at least from their little sleepy town. Their plan was to capture all the ammunition and use it against the British themselves. What happened next? The film brims with the element of uncertainty many a time, a huge plus.
That Gowariker has no luxury of twisting fiction here (beyond a limit), acts to the film's advantage. The only causalities - Surjya comes off as a cardboard-dull person in the first half, rather than the quiet simmering patriot he is intended to be. Abhishek, acts well, has his moments, but doesn't bring out the fire of a person inspiring a large group of freedom fighters. The same can be said, to an extent, of Kalpana (Deepika Padukone), one of the two women who were part of the uprising, which is more to do with limited scope of the role. The rest of the cast are all very real, especially the young teenage actors who provide an unexpected punch to the proceedings.
Sohail Sen's music adds charm, his background score is understated, a charming ally to the proceedings. The title song rendition and depiction plays well as a upbeat musical transition, the same can't be said for Nayan tere - it makes for an awkward introduction to the female characters. Lip-synching of songs don't fit in in these settings.
KHJJS is original and poignant for most of its running time, the length is not a deterrent, as it was in Jodha Akbar (2008) and What's Your Rashee? (2009). As a viewer, I was disappointed by the lack of a powerful opening scene (Random shots of football playing kids), and the quiet introduction of Surjya Sen. Despite the flaws, this is a movie that burns slowly into our hearts. Yet, there is nothing extraordinary as we have come to expect from Gowariker.
The noose around his neck, his mouth oozing blood, a man looks up as a full moon is ominously shrouded by clouds.