Movie Review: MANGAL PANDEY (2005)

Published by Shah Shahid on

There have been plenty of movies made around the Independence of India from the British. They mostly tread on the same path of showing us the horrible White men, noble Indian freedom fighters, big showdowns, Brits leave… Indians rejoice. But there was one movie in 2005 that attempted to do something more unconventional about the British occupation of India… MANGAL PANDEY.

Rating: 3 Out Of 5 Stars

MANGAL PANDEY showed us a world where the East India Trading Company is occupying India, strictly to exploit the resources of the region for economic gain. A massive Company, ruling over a part of the world. And unlike other stories, the world in this movie was peaceful. The Indians didn’t feel oppressed, weren’t bitter, but rather worked side by side the British in harmony… almost.

One such Indian was a loyal solder in the Army, Mangal Pandey. He was a regular Indian with patriotic views, but also was dedicated and loyal to his employers. He eventually gains the respect and admiration of Captain Gordon, a British Officer, born and raised in India during the occupation, so he was sympathetic to the Indians’ plight, and always showed them respect and courtesy.

loyal and dedicated sepoy…

So the white guy & brown guy are BFF’s, however one lie by the “Company” causes Pandey to unknowingly do something that goes against his religion, which is a massive deal in those days when society was structured around caste and religion. When The Company’s treachery comes to light, Pandey realizes just how much disrespect the Indians are treated with and decides to do something about it. This is where MANGAL PANDEY differs from other films, because it shows us an Occupied India, 100 years prior to its liberation. Imagine a Pre Pre-Independence movie.

disillusioned Pandey after being ordered to kill his own people…

Basically, MANGAL PANDEY’s story is about how this one man’s views, and his complete and total rebellion, which might have been premature and rushed at the time, is what causes the nation of India to actually question the British occupation, sowing the seeds of Revolution which eventually liberates the country 100 years after Mangal Pandey’s death. 

It’s a good attempt, and the story was very unique and different, however for some reasons… the Makers did a horrible-ass job. One gripe of mine is that the entire movie seemed to have been geared toward the Indian audiences, without any regard for anyone else, wasting a lot of time and performances that could have otherwise been told in a different way.

Obviously such a movie will have a huge and amazing non-Indian cast and there were some very impressive performances from a lot of non-Indian actors throughout the film. However, their performances are all for naught, considering majority of scenes with extended English speaking dialogues, are all voiced over by the Hindi speaking narrator, explaining what’s happening in the scenes. It’s a complete waste of the performances by the actors.


Another issue with MANGAL PANDEY was the massively long, almost 3-hour, runtime. Most of which is spent with trivial storylines that are crammed in to conform to the Indian formula of filmmaking. There’s a love story angle between Aamir Khan’s Mangal Pandey and Rani Mukjerji’s Heera, which was unnecessary and does nothing to give us any further insight into the character of Pandey. Even Captain Gordon, the British officer who becomes friends with Mangal Pandey is given a love story angle of rescuing and falling in love with an Indian girl… which, again, adds nothing to the story!

ugh… unbearably pointless…

The initial concept and idea of MANGAL PANDEY was very new and had massive potential. This is further proven by the effective-ness and impact of the last scene. However, that also gets watered down with 5 minutes of narration afterwards, before the end credits roll.

no… this isn’t a spoiler… this is in first 5 mins of the movie…

The entire movie felt like it was made more for instructional and informational purposes while at the same time following typical Bollywood formulas. MANGAL PANDEY is a long, boring, at times uninteresting and unnecessary movie that had the potential to be very unique. However, the typical Bollywood mentality seeps in and destroys any chance it ever had.

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Shah Shahid

Entertainment Writer | Film & TV Critic | Bollywood Blogger | Host of Split Screen Podcast | Proud Geek Girl Dad


huy · January 9, 2013 at 11:06 AM

Bullocks to criticism. Great movie!

    Shah Shahid · January 11, 2013 at 11:24 AM

    LOL. I wanted to think so too. There was a lot of unique elements in this, but some things ruined the experience for me.

    Glad you liked it though. Thanks for stopping by.

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