Chittagong is a story of essentially Surya Sen, a school-master who helped 50 young students of his class dream of a future , of a moment in the future, without the oppression of the omnipresent ruling British class. Its so much a Bengali story because it happened in Chittagong in undivided Bengal and like other fringe armed struggles for freedom during the pre-independence period , the protagonists are hailed immortal for time immemorial. But the duration of dominance over the British was very small to have made any difference to the overall struggle for independence both at the government and at the ground level. The liberation of Chittagong on 18th April'1930 by this rag-tag but motivated army of school boys has more of a symbolic value, an educational and a pedagogic value that was characterised so superbly in a speech by Surya Sen (played by Manoj Bajpayee) at the courtyard of the Chittagong armoury immediately after the successful raid; that one almost forgot that untrained newcomer Bedabrata Pyne's Chittagong was actually made in Hindi, not Bengali.
Chittagong is unlike any other historical Indian film I've seen. Its authentic. It doesn't exaggerate emotions to thick melodrama. Its superbly edited by Alde Velasco to maintain the pace of this action-drama. The picture carries a soft visual tone throughout and the music as well as the soundtrack is fantastic. The story doesn't revolve around Master'da and hence the movie-poster is a bit misleading. Rather it traces the transformation of a brilliant-but-timid 14 year old boy, Jhunku (played with passion by Delzad Hiwale) into an young revolutionary and much more. The sound mixing by Oscar awardee Resul Pookutty is brilliant without being overbearing . So much so that that even the sub-conversation in a group is so distinctly in the background. Eric Zimmerman excels in photography in absolute synergy with Bedabrata's direction.A chemistry that makes the tear drops, rolling down from Jhunku's innocent eyes, appear so touchingly real.
Bedabrata carries forward the tale of Jhunku beyond the fall of Chittagong and Jhunku's own 7-year prison-term in the Andaman cellular jail to a new phase in the agrarian history of Bengal. I wll leave it to the prospective viewer to explore.
But what the viewer can expect is exemplary histrionic performances by all the members of the cast. Special mention must be made for Alexx o'Nell as DIG Johnson, Jaideep Ahlawat as Anant Singh, Anurag Arora as CID officer Salauddin, Nawazuddin as Nirmal'da, Raj Kumar Yadav as Loknath Bal and the uniquely beautiful Vega Tamotia as Pritilata Wadedar.
A movie worth watching for all the money that is charges and as I said before , I only wish the movie was made in Bengali.
JAS Rating: 8 out of 10
JAS Rating: 8 out of 10