Movie Review: KHELEIN HUM JEE JAAN SEY (2010)
Ashutosh Gowariker is the same guy that took India to the Oscars with LAGAAN, and did some of the best film (critically and commercially) of the past decade, like JODHAA AKBAR and SWADES. So when I heard of his last film as being a pre-independant India film featuring a story about locals from the same city as my maternal grandparents, I was excited to say the least. What ensued when watching KHELEIN HUM JEE JAAN SEY though, was a 135 minute long educational feature for film students of the most horrible editing I’ve ever seen.
Rating: 1 Out Of 5 Stars
The film is about a small revolutionary movement in a port city of pre-independant India. And basically freedom fighters from this small but important town recruit a bunch of kids to try to deal a deadly blow to the British regime. They do so by coordinating attacks on multiple British outposts simultaneously. Sounds simple enough yea? Well if only it was executed with such simplicity.
I guess the makers assume that the entire world-wide audience is well aware of what happened during the British occupation of India, so nothing is established in the beginning of the film about the setting or any kind of background. No establishing of what’s happening in India, the state of things or even what the hell the British Occupation of India was. A bunch of kids, deprived of their soccer field by British soldiers setting up camp, join more experienced freedom fighters in their fight to remove the British from India. Yea, that’s it.
Let’s not even talk about how immoral and unethical it is for guys in powers of authority (main character is a teacher) to use their position to recruit naive and innocent boys into their dangerous cause. Abhishek Bachchan as the legendary Surjya Sen, a historical freedom fighter of India who gave his life in his efforts to free India from British rule, sucked. It’s really that simple. However, to clarify, majority of the horrible-ness of this film can be chalked up to the director and editor. Everyone else was a casualty, including the audience.
First off: Editing. The movie ran for over 2 hours, however the logical plot points set up in the beginning were concluded by the 1st hour and 15 minutes. The planned attack failed due to unforeseen circumstances. This should’ve been the end of the film, maybe with a huge firefight, some deaths, captures, emotional montage about patriotism to give some closure, etc. But we weren’t that lucky.
The story drags on with no rhyme or reason. The sequence of events that follows also makes so sense. The first half focused on the group of freedom fighters and kids training together for their mission. During which, all Abhishek’s character did was stare pensively back and forth in tight closeups as everyone else worked. After the botched mission, they all get split up for various reasons. So the director tries to take us through the different characters’ journeys to deal with the consequences of their actions. But even that is completely ruined, because there’s no sort of sequence of the scenes. Some characters are completely forgotten and show up abruptly near the end to tie up loose ends, others just sit around doing nothing but fight when they are eventually caught.
Performances: Dead. Everyone in this film is as cheesy and overdone as possible. Which is amazing, because there are a huge number of supporting character actors not to mention some of the big guns of Bollywood. Deepika Padukone’s character could’ve been done by any ditzy no name actress because even her angle played no significance. A love story was tacked on and only takes place in one scene. The supporting cast is strong, however the dialogue and story doesn’t really allow them to move beyond a cliched and generic state.
Everything about this movie sucked. There was no urgency driving the story forward. The character development consisted of showing mundane every day scenes of the youth at home with parents, eating. I guess they wanted those scenes to work as developing sympathy for the characters, but the execution seemed like it would play a part later in the movie, but it didn’t. NONE of the young men recruited to ‘do or die’ for their county knew wtf they were getting into. And this completely is obvious as they break down near the end and the veteran fighters have to literally become babysitters trying to control hysteric fits of kids freaking’ out. Because, apparently no one saw that coming when they recruited 13 years olds to kill and die for a cause they knew nothing about. And these are supposed to be the good guys.
KHELEIN HUM JEE JAAN SEY is an utterly dull movie. Nowhere in the entire movie do they even try to establish the reasoning behind the main conflict in the story. It’s just assumes that the British are evil incarnate based on the actions of the ‘heroes’ of the film. That is the entire basis of the film. Horrible… just horrible.