Chittagong Review: Fighting For Freedom, Survival, Justice

Bollywood has very few good movies on India’s independence struggle, Chittagong could be the best of them.


Cast: Manoj Bajpayee, Nawazuddin Siddique, Rajkummar Rao, Jaideep Ahlawat
Writer, Producer, Director: Bedabrata Pain, Shonali Bose
Music: Shankar Ehsaan Loy
Rating: 3.5/5

Chittagong is written, produced and directed by Bedabrata Pain (Scientist, IIT alumnus & settled in USA) in memory of his loving teen son who left for his heavenly abode in an accident. As the picture of the smiling boy, Ishan, during the end credits came up, tears rolled down my eyes.

The 90 minutes preceding it was all about teens – fighting for freedom, survival, justice and their country. Chittagong is no more part of India, it is now in Bangladesh.

Shame to our multiplex populace who never went to watch this movie. Despite rave reviews, it could not even recover 10% of the costs (as per Wiki). Chittagong won ‘Best Debut Film of a Director’ at 60th National Film Awards, though.

Chittagong’s release had created some controversy when Anurag Kashyap had posted that Amitabh Bachchan used all his clout to delay its release, as a movie on similar theme was releasing around that time. I have tried watching Abhishek Bachchan’s Khelen Hum Jee Jaan Se twice, but failed to go past the thirty minute mark, both times. KHJJS also barely recovered 10% of its costs. But at ten times the budget, it had the same eye candy seeking audience. Had part of that audience watched Chittagong, the latter would have made profits.

Bedabrata and his wife Shonali were also makers of the heart wrenching Amu starring Konkona Sen Sharma. Chittagong’s star studded cast includes Manoj Bajpayee, Nawazuddin Siddique, Rajkummar Rao and Jaideep Ahlawat. So solid are they, that 90 mins were never going to be enough screen time, to whet your appetite. You wish the director had prolonged the duration, just to see the actors more.

But Bedabrata could not make the movie longer as the magnitude of the story did not deserve it. Chittagong uprising was a short event – an attempt on 18 April 1930 to raid the armoury of the police and auxiliary forces from the Chittagong Armoury in Bengal province of British India. Bollywood has very few good movies on India’s independence struggle, Chittagong could be the best of them.

I also wondered at the way the British rulers conducted themselves as arrogant, unjust, haughty imperialists with no trace of humanity. Walking into a Durga Puja pandal and shooting a youth was as easy as putting that famous signboard “Dogs and Indians not allowed” or chopping off the teacher-turned-revolutionary Surya Sen’s fingers or seeding communal strife.

There is a scene where the police are influencing a Muslim village not to give shelter to Hindu revolutionaries, when in the background the camera shows that the existing brotherhood between the two communities was much deeper. The movie also dwells on why the British were not willing to return to Britain as one third of Britain was reeling under unemployment at that point of time.

Chittagong is fast-paced, engaging and blood boiling. Watch it.




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