Dejá vu, dejá heard and dejá experienced. As mentioned in the review of Shaheed-E-Azam, we shall not talk about the story here. It's all the same. How different can four biographical accounts of the same man be, especially a man who just lived for 23 years? So where this one score above the previous attempt at capturing Bhagat Singh on reel? For one, Bobby Deol manages to emote better than the guy in the previous version. The patriotic songs here are better than in the other, and "Mera Rang De Basanti Chola' has been broken up into small parts for easier digestion.
Then, Ash makes a special appearance as someone Bhagat Singh may have married in a parallel universe. Maybe that Bhagat Singh went on to have kids and his grandchildren are politicians now. And Chandrashekhar Azad is given much, much more importance for the simple reason that bade praji Sunny Deol plays the role here. And Saif's begum Amrita Singh plays Bhagat Singh's mom.
This movie also steers clear off controversy as big names like Gandhi and Nehru are not dragged into the picture. Lala Lajpat Rai features here too, as his death plays an instrumental part in Bhagat Singh's activities. Another scene in the movie is the Jallianwallah Bagh massacre. It is portrayed here as an inspiring prelude that strengthened Bhagat Singh's convictions later on.
Bobby Deol has managed to renounce his thorax shaking ways and executes the role with dignity. Both brothers try to outdo each other's patriotic fervor and vent out the powerful dialogues with great gusto. To give more scope to Sunny Deol's role, Chandrashekhar Azad's death too is portrayed here, and Sunny Deol manages to execute a very patriotic and inspiring death, fortunately without any dialogues.
Rahul Dev as Sukhdev is impressive as he lends dignity to the character and leaves a powerful impression. None of the other actors has much scope to emote much and they all just play sentimental foils to the dashing Bhagat Singh.
The difference here is plain to see, as the focus is on performances and emotions rather than sensationalizing the great man's life. The post-death events of Bhagat Singh are shown from a factual point of view and not as awe-inspiring acts of hero-worship. This movie banks more upon factors like powerful dialogues, their delivery and star-power. The songs are all patriotic except for one dream-sequence shot exclusively on Ash, which should have been omitted.
With such factors to bank upon, this movie should do well. But then, who knows? 71 years is a long time, and people have their own worries now. Maybe we should make a movie on secularism... 27 February 2002, Shaheed?