Sunny Super Sound's 23RD MARCH 1931 SHAHEED, directed by Guddu Dhanoa, tells the story of the freedom fighter Shaheed Bhagat Singh.
The story begins in Lahore when Bhagat Singh is just a small boy ï¿½ a growing child exposed to an environment of British rule in India. His sharp mind, though very young, is full of curiosity and reasoning.
Death does not frighten Bhagat Singh as a teenager. Growing into a college-attending adult does not distract Bhagat Singh from his goal. As a young man, he takes on the British rulers in India.
23RD MARCH 1931 SHAHEED tells the story of an extra-ordinary young man who happily became a martyr for his country at the tender age of 23. A revolutionary who shook the dictatorial British government.
With a massive cast and the hype surrounding it, the expectations from 23RD MARCH 1931 SHAHEED rise manifold. But it's a mixed feeling one gets at the end of the show.
The basic problem with the film is that it has woven incidents from Shaheed Bhagat Singh's life and put them together, instead of making a complete film on his life.
Another glaring defect is that Sukhdev and Rajguru, who were with Shaheed Bhagat Singh, don't get much scope in the film. They seem to be sidetracked completely.
The film starts on an ordinary note, but the story picks up rapidly during the early years of the great freedom fighter. A few sequences have been handled deftly by director Guddu Dhanoa, notable among them being ï¿½
* The Jallianwala Baug massacre;
* A young Bhagat Singh wanting to sow and reap rifles in the fields, so as to fight the oppression of Britishers;
* The scene when Bhagat Singh (Bobby Deol) meets Chandrashekhar Azad (Sunny Deol) for the first time.
But the film has its share of flaws as well ï¿½
* The sequence of events are narrated in a manner that the present-day generation, who are perhaps not completely aware of other legendary characters and incidents, may not be able to understand what's going on.
* Two, the film is too lengthy and drags towards the second half, with the pace dropping considerably time and again.
* Three, the film tends to get very talk-heavy at places.
Directorially, Guddu Dhanoa has handled a few sequences with maturity, but is letdown by writer Sutanu Gupta. The outcome of the film is plain mediocre, mainly because care has not been taken to simplify incidents and characters for the viewer. It looks as if the writer has taken the audience for granted, perhaps feeling that the viewer knows the complete story of the great freedom fighter minutely, and also of all those people who were associated with India's struggle for independence.
Also, the emotional moments are missing in the film. Besides, the jail and courtroom sequences are far from exciting. The research that has gone into the making doesn't seem enough. Even the dialogues (Sanjay Masoom) lack fire.
Anand Raaj Anand's music is functional. 'Des Nu Chalo' is the pick of the lot, while the remaining numbers are just about okay. The background music (Surinder Sodhi) is effective. Cinematography (Thiru) is excellent. The ambience has been captured to perfection. Action and chase sequences (Tinu Verma) are fantastic. Costumes (Simple Kapadia) deserve special mention.
Bobby Deol is just about okay. Sunny Deol, like always, is efficient. His introductory sequence ï¿½ when he squeezes an eve-teaser ï¿½ is sure to be greeted with claps and cheers.
Amrita Singh, seen on the big screen after a hiatus, makes her presence felt. Rahul Dev (as Sukhdev) and Vicky Ahuja (as Rajguru) get no scope. Suresh Oberoi, Shakti Kapoor, Divya Dutta and Akshay Anand lend decent support.
On the whole, 23RD MARCH 1931 SHAHEED lacks the power to motivate the viewer. The hype associated with the film compels the viewer to expect a lot from the film, but it falls short of expectations in the final tally. At the box-office, the business in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab will be the best.