Raagdesh

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Raagdesh
Raagdesh

RAAG DESH is well-meant, but lacks finesse!

Uncovering dust from the lesser-read pages of Indian history, this Tigmanshu Dhulia directorial narrates the origin story of INA and the impact of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose in the fight for India’s freedom. While it has its moments, it never really excels at anything. However, by throwing light on lesser known facts, through a fairly engaging screenplay, RAAG DESH deserves a watch!

RAAG DESH is a period drama based on the Indian National Army set up by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and the war to liberate India that was fought on the shores of the Irrawaddy in Burma. The British called the soldiers of the INA renegades and Japanese stooges and a trial was held at the Red Fort in Delhi that was called the Red Fort trials of 1945. RAAG DESH brings to life that epic trial that paved the way for India's Freedom.

Talking of the positives first, Tigmanshu Dhulia creates a veritable feel and setup of the era he’s depicting here and for the most part, he maintains the patriotic sentiments. If you’re not too much into the Indian political history, this film will definitely serve a lot of new stuff on your plate. There’s also something really refreshing about seeing a film that keeps the iconic Netaji in the forefront, rather than the usual popular figures. Even the historic Red Fort trial is something commercial Indian cinema will see for the first time. The swift pace of the narrative is another plus for the movie, which could’ve easily become a tiring affair if the screenplay wasn’t tight. It also brings to light, the important character of Bhulabhai Desai, who totally deserved this attention.

But, there are quite a few problems as well. While it does evoke patriotism, it frequently crosses the line and hops into the territory of jingoism. Also, it suffers from the usual Bollywood trappings of exaggerations and over-the-top depictions. Yet another problem is the fact that the protagonists are reflected in a blemish-free avatar, which is typical Bollywood again. Even the trial scenes could’ve been far more absorbing than what they are – inconsistent.

The performances are decent enough to hold your attention. Kunal Kapoor, Amit Sadh and Mohit Marwah to a good job. Even Kenny Basumatary, as Netaji, is swell. But its Kenneth Desai’s portrayal of BhulaBhai Desai that is the real show stealer. He’s apt and almost always up to the mark. All others do a nice job.

In all, RAAG DESH is a film which deserves a watch for depicting a not-so-popular chapter in Indian history. This may not be among Dhulia’s better films, but it sure is a one-time-watch!

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