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Today is the birthday of Sardar Bhagat Singh, a great martyr, a great revolutionary, a great visionary and a great son of Mother India. Born on 28th September, 1907, he laid his life for the cause of the nation's freedom on 23rd March,1931 at the tender age of 23-24 years. I pay my tribute to him through this review which is of a movie made on his biography in 1965.
Many movies have been made on the life of this immortal soul out of which five movies were made and released almost simultaneously in the year 2002. However none of them could match the intensity of patriotic emotion depicted in this four decade old movie in which Manoj Kumar has played the lead role in such a memorable way that the viewers cannot hold their tears while seeing his performance on the screen.
Shaheed Bhagat Singh was a great visionary. He resorted to the path of violence only for a while. Realizing its futility, he had left it and the bomb had been thrown in the assembly leading to his arrest (with B.K. Dutt) was a totally harmless one, meant only to make the deaf (the British govt.) hear. He was by all means, the first genuine socialist of India who had envisioned a socialistic regime in politically free India with abolition of the landlords and the blood-sucking money-lenders coupled with the abolition of the caste system and equality for all. He had asserted clearly that he did not want foreign exploiters to be substituted by indigenous exploiters.
He was not against Gandhiji but he was against the surrendering and compromising tactics applied by the Congress to appease the oppressive rulers for petty concessions. He was a brave man who was never scared of death. In fact, he chose to die by ensuring his arrest himself because it was his strategy to use the court-room for patriotic propaganda and make his voice to be heard by his countrymen loud and clear. It was a big deal costing his life but he never considered it a big deal as he deemed his life as much cheaper a price to arouse the patriotism of the Indians. He had grasped the essence of Bhagvad Geeta fully. He was never ambiguous or unclear in his mind. He knew what to do and what the goal was. Both the path and the destination were pretty clear before his eyes.
Bhagat Singh belonged to a family of great patriots. His uncle Ajeet Singh and his father Kishan Singh were great patriots who suffered a lot in the hands of the British rule. His mother was a great lady who prohibited the people from shedding tears upon his death. His younger brother got the same blood and sentiments of the family. And even his fiancée, Maanawaali regarding whom the history does not tell much, was also overwhelmed by patriotic sentiments of the man who could not become her husband.
The movie directed by S. Ram Sharma and written by B.K. Dutt (?) is an outstanding one. Being a black and white movie makes it all the more effective as the intensity of the emotions and the drama envelopes the viewer like anything which a coloured movie might not have done to that much extent. The screenplay is awesome and except some dragging in the court-room drama in the post-interval session, the narrative is thoroughly gripping, and moving too. The movie does full justice to the towering persona of the great patriot. However the focus remains mainly on him only without giving due weightage to the other characters. Bhagat Singh's joining the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association, the murder of Saunders, his escape, the throwing of bomb in the assembly, the court-room drama post his arrest, the hunger-strike in the jail and finally his climbing to the gallows with Rajguru and Sukhdev, everything has been portrayed in a highly impressive way. Putting it straight and clear, the narrative is mesmerising and tear-jerking at places. Dialogues are also admirable.
The performances are brilliant. Manoj Kumar's performance in the role of Bhagat Singh is undoubtedly his best as an actor. He has been able to convey the anguish, the emotions, the restlessness, the patriotism and the philosophy of Bhagat Singh very effectively. Among other characters, Prem Chopra as Sukhdev, Pran as dacoit Kehar Singh (fellow jailbird of Bhagat Singh), Madan Puri as jailer and finally Kamini Kaushal as Bhagat Singh's mother stand out with their praiseworthy performances.
The music is very good whose credit goes to Prem Dhawan for both lyrics and composition. Other than the legendary songs - Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna, Mera Rang De Basanti Chola and Pagadi Sambhal Jatta; patriotic song - Aye Watan Aye Watan Hamko Teri Kasam and Jogi Ham To Lut Gaye Tere Pyar Mein are also also very impressive.
Cinematography, editing and other technical aspects are also according to the need of this patriotic movie. The art director has enlivened that period on screen by his sincere efforts. But finally it's the subject matter and its treatment which matters most. The moviemaker is successful in his objective of arousing the love for the motherland in the hearts of the viewers.
Shaheed is a memorable movie and I pay my tribute to the great soul through this review on his 103rd birthday.
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