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5 Bengali films centered on nationalist undercurrents that peaks into the Indian freedom movement
Hia Datta
Aug 14, 2021

Among all the films set in the days of the Indian freedom movement, there are some exceptional films that do not portray the freedom struggle directly, but the events that led to it, and the soaring patriotic spirit that fuelled the fervour for it. While some movies depict the dedication and sacrifice of great national figures who spurred and built the nationalist zeal, some critique and lay bare the harsh realities of the lives caught in the time.

Ahead of Independence Day, we list select Bengali films available on OTT that revolve around the patriotic ardour and nationalist feeling that eventually led to the Indian freedom movement as we know it today.

Bhagini Nivedita
5.8OTTplay Rating
Bijoy Basu directed this unique film that starred Arundhati Devi, Asit Baran, Ajit Banerjee, Shova Sen as the lead cast. Arundhati Devi plays the lead role of Sister Nivedita, the famous Irish disciple of Swami Vivekananda. Margaret Elizabeth Noble, immensely inspired by the philosophy of Swamiji, leaves her family and country and dedicates her life for the cause of serving the needy Indians. Watch Arundhati Devi as she essays the role of a lifetime, personifying the grace, dedication, and sacrifice of the great lady who faced hurdles while working for the upliftment of the downtrodden and helpless children of India. The underlying spirit of India awakening sets the film apart despite the obvious constraints due to its low budget at the time it was made.
Mahabiplabi Aurobindo
Helmed by Deepak Gupta, the film has Dilip Roy, Ajitesh Bandyopadhyay, Subrata Chatterjee, and Tarun Kumar in key roles. The plot is based on the life of the great freedom fighter turned spiritual leader Rishi Aurobindo (famous for the Pondicherry Ashram founded by him). Those were the days of armed struggle against the British Raj in India. It showcases Aurobindo’s life in India, his marriage, spiritual awakening, struggle, and the trial of the bomb case with aplomb. Dilip Roy’s outstanding act as Aurobindo, marvellously captures the evolution of his character from a brilliant student to a spiritually dedicated great man.
Subhas Chandra
8.6OTTplay Rating
Starring Amar Datta, Samar Chatterjee, Ashis Ghosh (in the role of Subhas in different ages), Dilip Roy, Rabin Banerjee, and others, the film was written and helmed by Piyus Basu. The plot covers only the initial phases of the great Indian leader Subhas Chandra Bose (Netaji) from his childhood to his youth, until he joined the political party of the Indian National Congress. The script deals traces his childhood perception of Indian history, getting influenced by the martyr Khudiram Bose and the freedom struggle movement, and developing leadership skills all the way to his joining active politics. Delineating the gradual evolution and making of the national leader, the film evokes the patriotic spirit and upsurge that was increasingly prevalent in pre-independence days, without directly delving into the freedom struggle. Through little humane moments, scenes of nature, and impactful use of songs, this film that was commercially successful, is an enjoyable film for your Independence Day watch.
8.6OTTplay Rating
The film is a cinematic recreation of the historic win of the IFA Shield Football Championship Final match by Mohun Bagan Club against the British team, East Yorkshire Regiment in 1911.While the plot is centered on a football match, the game unites the general public against the mighty British team. On the sidelines, strong discontent and anger against the oppression and torture of the British rule in then Calcutta is simmering gradually and a freedom struggle is being organised secretly. The championship match thus transcends the game to become a symbolic expression of the mood of the country.
7OTTplay Rating
This noteworthy Srijit Mukherji directorial features a talented cast that includes Rituparna Sengupta, Saswata Chatterjee, Kaushik Sen, Jaya Ahsan, Jisshu Sengupta, Abir Chatterjee among others. In 1947, Bengal was cut into two halves on a religious basis - West Bengal (to be retained in India) and East Pakistan. The Radcliffe Line, which severed the country forever, passes through a brothel manned by Begum Jaan who runs it with 10 prostitutes, a servant, and a loyal bodyguard. The building housing the brothel is to be demolished, and Begum Jaan (Rituparna Sengupta) is requested to abandon it along with all the residents. When negotiations fail, things turn violent. In what is an interesting take on a feminist-at-heart, nationalist-in-spirit tale conjured around the heart-breaking Partition, this film stands out with the hard realities it shows, and the indomitable spirit of women against a patriarchal political boardgame, where 'freedom fights independence.' Rituparna Sengupta plays the role of Begum Jaan with an uncharacteristic makeup, husky voice, and an entirely different body language that was hitherto unseen in her career until Rajkahini.

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