Swatantra Veer Savarkar

Swatantra Veer Savarkar
Swatantra Veer Savarkar
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Telling chapters of one’s life is not an easy task. But still Randeep Hooda’s Swatantra Veer Savarkar — a biopic on Vinayak Damodar Savarkar — attempts to do this, tries to break down and chronicle the important events from his life, and gives us a three-hour-long biographical movie that clicks in places and fails to grab your attention for the rest.

Covering over a decade including both pre independence era starting from 1857 and post independence till 1966, the film unabashedly tells the story through its much controversial hero. And it doesn’t bat an eyelid while doing so, especially when putting him up as a revered figure with ideals that many may not have endorsed initially, but would eventually come around to. Consequently, Swatantra Veer Savarkar ends up being a one-sided narrative that is disinterested in presenting an even-handed view about the contributions made towards India’s struggle for freedom.

Film’s premise

A politician, activist and writer, Savarkar propagated Hindutva and the idea of Akhand Bharat (undivided India) believed in armed revolution against British rule unlike Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violent beliefs and ideologies. However, there was no endorsement or advocacy for violence in the movie which came as a relief.

It brings into focus contribution and sacrifices of armed revolutionaries whom we tend to look down upon because only non-violence is assumed to have played part in India’s freedom. Using bold newspaper headlines to show rise fall of Savarkar was motivated by need — let us know about his early life; high points during his time in England where he joined hands with India House and Free India Society; arrest by British Police; imprisonment; countless mercy petitions to British authorities as political prisoner among others.

Savarkar’s life is such an enigma

Some called him patriot while others referred to him as bomb ‘golavala’ who incited violence. He was charged with conspiracy theories and cleared of them on different occasions. What makes Savarkar’s life so captivating are his sacrifices for India’s freedom struggle and the film takes its time in unpacking this. The first half is a great build up showing us young Savarkar as a child adoring his elder brother (Amit Sial) and later on, being extremely loyal to wife Yamunabai (Ankita Lokhande) also serving as charming law student full of confidence while studying England. Unfortunately, second half nosedives both regarding storyline and Hooda’s direction. Somewhere along the way, he loses plot and goes all over unable to figure out how to bring everything back together.

Randeep Hooda shines through the movie

Amidst all the highs lows, one thing that undoubtedly stands out throughout this film is Randeep Hooda playing lead role which he is also credited for directing, co-writing producing it too. His incredible physical transformation (losing 30kgs) with bones sticking out everywhere from under his skin coupled with rotting teeth still remains both a spectacle worth seeing but equally hard to watch at times too.

In the notorious Andaman and Nicobar Islands’ cellular jail, where he was imprisoned, and then Kaalapani’s solitary confinement, they show him being beaten up many times in different shots. Every time you watch it, your heart sinks. He performs brilliantly as both a heroic leader and a helpless prisoner. The portrayal of Savarkar by Hooda is simply amazing — from his body language to dialogue delivery — even the voiceover done by him leaves no doubt about his acting skills.

Scenes are handled with maturity and dignity

Many thought that the clash between Gandhi and Savarkar’s ideologies would be at the center of the film but thankfully this wasn’t entirely true. Directed by Mahesh Manjrekar, this is one such scene in which Swatantra Veer Savarkar (Randeep Hooda) can be seen interacting with Mahatma Gandhi (played by Rajesh Khera) very respectfully without any sign of provocation or argument. However there is a moment when he tells about how big has Gandhi become? This line might make people laugh but its an obvious sarcasm on gandhi . But i am sure swatantra veer savarkar did not want it to be shown like this ,the intention behind all these changes were made So That his image does not look flawless on screen but still throughout the movie we can see that they have tried to correct certain things about themselves through story telling part only which are quite subtle yet effective such as when Randeep says “I do not dislike Gandhiji I just don’t like non-violence” or “I don’t hate Britishers I hate slavery ,injustice & oppression”.

Final thoughts

The length and editing are the film’s biggest drawbacks. It’s almost three hours long so it drags more than what you would expect.Rajesh Khanna shines through as always though i felt like he had so much to say that even with this running time 

It was difficult for him hold onto our attention because there is only one actor in the whole movie ,which is not fair. I would have loved if they made a long format episodic series on Savarkar’s life with such extensive research and understanding of the subject instead of this never-ending film where after point, it starts going nowhere and we stop caring about what happens next. But still Randeep Hooda’s performance saves some face for it so watch it once atleast.

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