The Rising: Ballad of Mangal Pandey (2005) 

 

 

 

Director:     Ketan Mehta.

Starring:     Aamir Khan (Sepoy Mangal Pandey), Rani Mukherjee (Heera), Toby Stephens (Captain William Gordon), Coral Beed (Emily), Ameesha Patel (Jwala), Kiron Kher (Lol Bibi), Om Puri (Narrator), Ben Nealon (Hewson), Habib Tanvir (Bahadur Shah Zafar), Varsha Usgaonkar (Rani Laxmibai), Kenneth Cranham (Kent), Tom Alter (Watson), Mukesh Tiwari (Bakht Khan), Shahbaaz Khan (Azimullah), Amin Hajee (Vir Singh).

 hero of an uprising against the British, the Sepoy Mutiny c. 1857

 

 

Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film.  The N word spelled out.

April 7, 1857.  Barrackpore Prison.  [Barrackpore is headquarters of Barrackpore subdivision in North 24 Parganas district in the Indian state of West Bengal. The town was a military and administrative center under British rule, during the 19th century.  The city is about 23 km (14 miles) from Kolkata (previously Calcutta), and 115 km (71.5 miles) from the border with Bangladesh. The city is on the eastern bank of the River Ganges.] 

"The entire Indian subcontinent is ruled by a company.  The British East India Company.  The most successful business enterprise in history.  The Company has its own laws, its own administration, its own army.  It controls the destiny of one fifth of humanity. "

Today an Indian is being hanged.  His name is Mangal Pandey, Sepoy (Private), 34th Regiment, Native Infantry at Barrackpore.  "You have been found guilty of mutiny and conspiracy to overthrow the government of the Honorable East India Company,  by a duly constituted court martial.  You have been sentenced to death."   They have, however, a problem.  The hangman has run away saying he will not hang Mangal Pandey.  So, the British tell the messenger to hang Pandey.  The Indian soldier says he is a Brahmin and it is against his faith.  [The older spelling of Brahman (a Hindu priest).] 

The commander says to send a message to Calcutta and get another hangman.  So Pandey is taken off the gallows platform and returned to his cell.  One British soldier is upset by the delay.  He stays behind after everyone leaves the gallows area.  His name is William Gordon and he says he feels responsible for the inevitable. 

Flashback.  Afghanistan, 1853, four years earlier.  In the mountains of Afghanistan.  The Afghans attack a small unit of British and Indian soldiers.  Most of the British and Indian soldiers are killed or badly wounded.  Mangal Pandey is able to get up off the ground and stand erect.  William Gordon tries to get up, but he can't make it.  Pandey goes over to William Gordon as some remaining Afghans start firing at them.  Pandey gets Gordon up half-way, but is then shot in the left shoulder.  Pandey gets Gordon up to the top of a hill and then rolls him down the other side into the hands of Indian soldiers.  The Indians gets the two men to base camp. 

The Indian doctor tells Gordon that the Afghans are on the run and we hold the pass.  Gordon get ups to go see Pandey.  He finds him sleeping on the ground and gives Pandey his pistol as a sign of gratitude. 

Four years later, December 31, 1956, Calcutta. It's the New Year celebration at the Governor General Lord Canning's palace.  Men and women are dancing to the music.  Mr. Lockwood, the Company auditor, stands next to Lord Canning.  Next to Lockwood is Mr. Kent, a big-time trader.  The Governor General makes some remarks to the now silent crowd.  His remarks are interrupted by the late arrival of a woman dressed in Indian clothes.  Mr. Kent scolds the woman, his daughter Emily Kent, saying she looks like a nautch girl, that is, a professional Indian dance girl. 

A servant carrying wine spills it down the front of Emily's outfit.  Captain Hewson calls the servant a black dog and chases after the man.  The servant gets outside and falls.  The Captain starts kicking the man again and again.  Then he takes a whip and starts whipping the man held by two guards.  Mangal Pandey steps in between Hewson and the servant with his back turned to Hewson.  He lets Hewson whip him until he gets tired.  Then Pandey turns to tell him: "Enough".  Hewson whips Pandey across the face and then stops.  He apologizes to Emily for the servant, but Emily says he doesn't owe an apology to her, but to the Indian servant. 

Gordon saw the whole thing but didn't intervene to stop it.  Pandey looks at him disapprovingly, but neither man says anything to the other.

The quartermaster shows Gordon the new Enfield rifle that the Company is bringing into India.  Gordon likes the new rifles. 

An Indian says the Company has connected all of India through wires of the telegraph. 

A British woman uses a wet nurse to feed her baby, so by the time the wet nurse returns hiome to feed her own baby, she is dried up.  The husband Veeru comes in and wants to know why their baby is crying?  The wife says it's just a touch of colic.  Three of Veeru's buddies come by to pick him up.  He leaves with them.  Now the mother decides to put opium on her nipple to keep the baby from crying.  The men go to watch wrestling.  Mangal Pandey wins the match to the cheering of the crowd.  Captain Gordon stops his horse to see what's going on.  Pandey challenges him to a wrestling match "with a black man". 

While wrestling Gordon asks why Pandey did not come today?  Pandey says he was mad because Gordon did not stop Captain Hewson from nearly killing the servant.  Gordon asks him what could he do given the situation?  Pandey says that Gordon couldn't or wouldn't intervene between a British person and a black dog.  Gordon finally says Pandey is right and apologizes for his non-action.  Gordon has a good lock on one of Pandey's arms to encourage him to forgive him.   Pandey gives in and forgives him.  The match is over. 

After the match Pandey gets Gordon to try a drink called Bhang.  The two men end up drunk.  They walk down the street and see Hewson at a party.  Emily is there also.  The two drunks decide to play a trick on Hewson.  They tie his saddle to a post.  Emily watches them from the grand porch.  As Hewson pulls away from the hitching area, the saddle pulls out from under him and he falls to the ground.  The drunks laugh, but Emily has a good laugh too. 

In the morning Pandey runs into an untouchable on the street.  He scolds the man and takes a stick to him, but to get back at Mandey, the man asks him:  "And who's going to bite the new cartridge dipped in animal fat?"  This bothers Pandey as it would defile his body to take in animal fat.  He tells the untouchable to shut up and he calls the man a liar.

The Indian soldiers make Mangal Pandey their spokesman.  The whole crew shows up outside the house of the commander.  Pandey tells the commander that the cartridge of the new Enfield rifle is greased and must be bitten before loading.  The commander doesn't understand the import of Pandey's statement.  So the man explains to the commander that the grease coating is made of cow and pig fat.  The cow is sacred to the Hindus and the pig is forbidden to the Muslims.  It would be a sacrilege to bite the cartridge. 

The commander asks:  "Who's spreading this rot?"  The commander says there is no truth in this at all.  He adds:  "Some mischief-monger is misleading you.  There is no such cartridge.  There will be no such cartridge."

Out shopping Gordon introduces Emily Kent to Mangal.  Emily gets upset when she sees men selling female slaves to men with money.  The narrator says:  "Emily was surprised that though slavery was abolished in Britain, the Company allowed it in India.  Gordon explained that the Company itself bought these girls for the pleasure of white soldiers.  It helped prevent the spread of disease in the army."  Emily is disgusted and leaves the slave sale area. 

The pretty woman who was up on the sales platform ends up being bought by a brothel.  They name her Heera (meaning diamond) because she is beautiful but needs some polishing.  The madam says she is the boss and her name is Lol Bibi.  Furthermore, this pleasure place is only for white men. 

The narrator comments:  "One of the Company's biggest trades was that of opium.  It forced Indian farmers to grow it, bought it from them at a pittance and sold it in China at a profit."  When the Chinese balked at this opium trade, Indian soldiers helped put down any resistance by the Chinese.   

Innocent Emily shows the crowd at a party the beautiful poppy flowers she picked.  She asks why there are so many of these flowers growing and wonders if it is involved in some kind of religious celebration for the Indians?  Gordon is rather rash in explaining the dirty business of the opium trade.  Captain Hewson tells Gordon to spare the ladies from hearing the story. But Gordon goes on anyway, ending with:  "The circle is complete and we call it the free market."

Mr. Kent scolds Gordon saying the man abuses his host's hospitality.  Gordon can't stand this and walks outside for some fresh air.  Emily follows after him and says she is so sorry for what happened.  Gordon starts to kiss Emily, but thinks better of it, realizing he does not belong in her elite circle. 

The British instruct the Indian soldiers in the use of the new Enfield rifle.  But the Indian soldiers won't use the rifles because the the animal grease problem.  Gordon is ordered to allay the fears of the Indians.  He gets up on the platform and says he gives his word that the cartridges have no animal grease on them.  He asks for a volunteer.  Mangal Pandey steps forward.  He takes the rifle and cartridge.  He uses his teeth to rip off the top of the cartridge.  He loads the gunpowder and ball in and fires the weapon.

Pandey is now accused of being tainted and he will be an outcaste from now on.  Pandey says he trusts Gordon's word and so he bit the cartridge top off.  He says Gordon would never lie to him.  The men, however, ask what if the cartridge story turns out to be true?  Pandey says then he will burn down the Company. 

Pandey talks to Gordon about who and what is the Company?  As they talk about what is capitalism, the men see a Sati taking place.  [Sati or suttee was a social funeral practice among some Indian communities in which a recently widowed woman would immolate herself on her husbandís funeral pyre. The practice was banned several times, with the current ban dating to 1829 by the British. The woman takes her place on the pyre and the dead husband's head is laid on her lap.  The fire is lit, but the woman becomes fearful and wants to escape from the flames.

Gordon rides his fast horse up to the pyre telling the men to stop the Sati. He shouts at the men that Sati has been banned and burning a widow is now a crime.  The men tell Gordon to put the woman back on the pyre or else.  A fight starts.  Luckily, Pandey arrives on his horse and helps force the men back from the pyre.  He yells at Gordon to get the woman out of here and he will chase of these heathens. 

Gordon takes the woman to his nice home and throws her on the bed.  The male servants tell Gordon to take the woman back for no one will touch her.  Of course, Gordon rejects that idea.  Pandey arrives and says the woman's relatives will not take her back.  So now she has no where to go. 

At night Gordon goes to check on her.  He finds her hiding under the bed.  She refuses to come out, so Gordon leaves a drink for her and goes.  He watches through an opening between the door and its frame.  He sees her take the drink. 

In the morning the woman is very fearful.  Gordon says he has to go to work, but he has set guards around the house.  The woman says her relatives will come for her, nevertheless.  The village chieftain comes to talk with Gordon.  He asks Gordon to return the woman to them. Gordon becomes furious and grabs the chieftain telling him that if he returns to this house, he will shoot the chieftain dead.  He then pushes the man out the door. 

Mr. Lockwood checks for corruption in the Company.  He and some soldiers raid the godown of a Parsee merchant, named Sorabjee.  They arrest the man.  Sorabjee tells Lockwood that he is ready to pay a fine right now of some 3,000 pounds in gold.  Lockwood can't believe how rich this merchant has become off of illegal trade in opium, which is supposed to be a British monopoly.  Lockwood forces Sorabjee to give him the names of the villages from which he bought the opium.

The army goes out to the villages to inform them that their land will be confiscated from them.  The men of the village now beg the white men for mercy.  They say the white men tell them to grow opium and they tell the farmers when to sell the opium.  They do not make the decisions.  The white man in charge gets disgusted and knocks some villagers down with his horse.  The women start throwing manure on the man in charge, as well as Gordon and other whites.  The big boss gives the order to fire on the crowd.  The Indian soldier hesitate for 30 seconds, the order is given again and they finally start firing on the crowd.  The houses are then burned. 

Pandey is very sad, indeed.  Gordon says to him:  "We're soldiers.  It's our job to fight, to kill."  Mangal was just following orders.  That's his duty. 

Indian women dance and sing for a private occasion at the brothel.    Captain Hewson grabs the pretty girl Heera and wants to have sex with her.  The women says that Heera has been promised to the Company' senior officer, so he can't just take Heera away.  But Hewson just insists that her first night will be with him.  Pandey now shouts out:  "Enough!"  Hewson is confused for awhile and Heera pulls herself out of his grasp.  So now Hewson is going after Pandey.  He strikes Pandey, but then Pandey knocks him down.  Hewson calls Pandey a nigger and says he will get Pandey for this!  Pandey goes a bit crazy and goes after Hewson who runs back into the brothel.  Hewson grabs a pistol, fires at Pandey, but misses.  Pandey chases Hewson up to the second floor where business is ongoing.  He finally gets Hewson down on a brothel bed and starts really slugging the man.  Then a British soldier strikes Pandey in the back of his head with the butt of a rifle. 

The widow serves Gordon some coffee in his room.  He asks her name and she says it's Jwala.  A group of Indian soldiers rush over to tell Gordon that Hewson has gone to the jail to kill Pandey.  Gordon goes with them.

It's Hewson and three of his men beating Pandey.  Pandey is able to knock Hewson down.  Pandey is tough but he can't win against four men with his hands shackled in front of him.  Hewson starts beating Pandey, who spits blood into Hewson's left eye.  Then the guys start kicking and stomping on Pandey.  One of the men yell:  "Make the black bastard shit blood."  Finally, Gordon arrives and stops the beatings. 

The Indian soldiers now declare Mangal Pandey a hero and they rush through the streets shouting:  "Long live Mangal!"  They rush Mangal to a doctor.

Mr. Lockwood tells Mr. Kent that he has found out that Kent has been compromising senior officers, falsifying accounts and cheating the Company.   Kent tells Lockwood that if he points his finger at him (Kent), Lockwood will have to take on the whole House of Lords in England. 

Gordon goes home and sits down on a chair to rest.  Jwala comes out on the porch to give him his slippers.  That makes him uncomfortable, but what happens to him next makes him angry.  Three men fire three arrows at Gordon to try and kill him.  Gordon fires two pistol rounds at the men, but doesn't hit anyone.  Jwala is so scared that she is crying inside the house.  She grabs his pistol and holds it to her head.  He grabs it from her and it goes off, but doesn't hit either of them.  He holds the woman to calm her. 

The one-time slave girl that Mangal Pandey saved from Captain Hewson has the cross-eyed untouchable tell Pandey that she wants to see him.  Pandey says he wants to meet her.  So the untouchable will be the go-between for the couple. 

The meeting is set up and Pandey uses the equivalent of a fire escape for the brothel to get to her balcony.  He meets Heera.  He asks her if she wants to escape?  She asks:  "With you?"  They are interrupted by one of the women who says the boss is looking for her and she is going to get into trouble.  She runs into the house.  Pandey starts to leave, but she throws him an expensive piece of jewelry. 

Jwala and Gordon fall in love with each other.  Some women dance for a crowd.  The singer, Heera, sings that her man of interest is Mangal Pandey.  Jwala and Gordon go to bed in the bedroom. 

The next day Pandey runs into the cross-eyed untouchable again.  This time the untouchable tells him that he will show Pandey the factory where the animal fat is prepared for the cartridges.   Pandey and some other soldiers go with him to the factory.  The men there see the cut-up pieces of beef and pork and how they are processed into a glue. 

Mangal Pandey comes knocking on Gordon's door.  He tells Gordon that he lied to him!  He saw the whole process and now Pandey is an outcaste.  Now his entire community will shun him.  For them Pandey is an untouchable, a nobody, he no longer exists.  He gives Gordon back his pistol and says they are no longer friends.  He then leaves. 

Intermission. 
 

Pandey thinks he will be shunned, but his friends do not shun him.  One of the men says:  "A wrong done unknowingly is not a sin."  They shake his hand and Pandey feels very relieved. 

Gordon tells the top brass that the cartridge controversy could spin out of control.  The senior officer gets irritated and say:  "Damn it, we can't succumb to such blind superstition."  Gordon explains that it may seem like superstition to us, but it is an extremely sensitive issue for the Indian soldiers.  Colonel Mitchell says that his Indian troops in Behrampore are very loyal to him and they can introduce the cartridges there.

February 12, 1857.  Behrampore Cantonment.  The British have brought a contingent with them from Barrackpore.  The British run into the same opposition here as elsewhere.  So Colonel Mitchell tells the sepoys that if they do not obey, he will fire the cannon at them.  The cannons are brought forward.  Mitchell counts to ten.  Mangal Pandey marches up to a cannon and puts his chest up to the mouth of the cannon and shouts an order to fire.  The cannon is not fired.  A huge cheer goes up for Pandey.  The sepoys break ranks and start coming forward to the white officers.  Gordon and other officers tell Mitchell to dismiss the parade.  Mitchell is disgusted but he tells his officers to dismiss the parade. 

The sepoys break into the armory and grab the rifles.  They also grab boxes of ammunition.   They gather together and talk about their options.  A sepoy rushes in and shouts that the British are coming with horses and canons to attack the sepoy's homes. 

Colonel Mitchell arrives with cannon and men.  Gordon says they can't fire on their own men, but Mitchell says these are not their men any more.  These men are mutineers!   The sepoys go get lighted torches.  They completely encircle Mitchell and his little band of men.  An Indian corporal asks that he be able to speak to the sepoy.  Mitchell tells him to go ahead.  The corporal tells the men that Mitchell has agreed to remove the cannon and they wish to withdraw so let the British pass through the circle.  A huge cheer comes up from the sepoys.  They are jubilant. 

Gordon appears at a meeting of the rebellion leaders.  Pandey goes over to speak with Gordon in private.  Gordon tells him the sepoys are going to force the British into using force because the army can't tolerate insubordination. He goes on to say that the British do have some unreasonable and unfair rules, but these can be worked out in reasonable ways.  Pandey is not so sure.  He grabs Gordon's right arm and brings the torch close to their arms to say so much of the difference is just this:  white and black skin color.  He is saying the British are racist and will not treat the sepoys or any other Indians with real fairness.      

The news from Behrampore reaches the British senior officers.  The blame falls on Mitchell.  One officer says Mitchell is a fool.  Gordon comes in and urges the army to get rid of the offending cartridges.  The officers cast aspersions on Gordon and bring up that he shares his bed with a native woman.  They dismiss Gordon from the room.

One problem for the British is that there isn't a full British regiment between here and Lucknow and that's 700 miles away.  The commander, General Anson, says there's a Queen's Regiment at Rangoon.  Telegraph for them. Meanwhile, the British will stall for time until the regiment arrives.

The leader of the rebels believes that the British are being reasonable and they should return their rifles back to the armory.  Pandey jumps up and says they can defeat the British now because they have seven men for every one British soldier.  The leader says this will not end the reign of the Company.  The moderate leader wins the argument for now.

The rebel leader meets with emissaries of King Nana Saheb.  One emissary is named Azimullah and the other is the Chief of the Maratha army, Tatya Tope.  [Maratha is a Hindu people inhabiting Maharashtra in west-central India.]  Azimullah says that Nana Saheb has united all the kings to fight against the Company.  Pandey steps forward to criticize the kings saying they bowed down before the British.  And now the real power of the British lies in the sepoys who do the fighting for the British.  The sepoys are the only group capable of giving the British a good fight. Azimullah asks then who will rule in India?  Pandey says the people.  Tatya Tope says the Indians have to unite together and stop the British from pitting the various groups in India against each other.

The real sepoy leader gets up to say that they are ready to fight alongside the kings.  They need, however, a unifying symbol for the fight.  Pandey says that symbol is the Red Fort in Delhi.  [The Red Fort is a 17th-century fort complex constructed by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in the walled city of Old Delhi that served as the residence of the Mughal Emperors.]  Pandey adds that they will be willing to unite under the leadership of the Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah.  Tope objects because Bahadur Shah is 82 years old.  The sepoys don't object to the man's age.  The sepoy leader says thee are 300,000 sepoys, but only 40,000 British soldiers.  The sepoys and others must all rise up at the same time and disarm the British soldiers around them.  Pandey suggests the date of May 31. 

A big celebration takes place wherein people's clothes are splashed with different dyes that are very strong colors.  Pandey and Heera get together and join the crowds and so do Gordon and Jwala. 

General Anson gets the news that the Rangoon Regiment is on its way.  They are expected to arrive on April 1.  Anson says when the regiment arrives the sepoys will be disarmed and their leaders hanged. 

Heera rushes over to Pandey to tell him that the British in the area have sent for the Rangoon Regiment.  She says she heard this from Hewson.  She wants Pandey and her to run away somewhere else.  Pandey says no.  She starts crying, breaks away from him and runs back to the brothel. 

Pandey tells the other leaders and now they are going to have to strike sooner than they expected.  They will march to Calcutta and capture Fort William. 

The news of the rising reaches the ears of the wet nurse Kamla via her husband Veeru.  The woman runs over to her employer's house to tell her that there is danger.  The British woman comes to the door after Hewson gets off of her and hides.  The white woman goes and asks about the danger.  The Indian woman says that Baba is like her own son and she doesn't want anything bad to happen to him.  She tells memsaab that she must leave. 

Veeru is grabbed and tortured in the British prison by Hewson.  They break Veeru and he tells the British that the date set for the rising is March 30.  And now the British jump into action.  General Hearsey orders that the Rangoon Regiment must reach Barrackpore before March 30.  He also orders that the Behrampore Regiment must be stopped in route to Barrackpore. 

March 29, 1857, Barrackpore.  British ships are coming up the Ganges River.  The cross-eyed untouchable runs to Pandey to tell him.  He alerts the others. Pandey grabs a bugle and blows the call to assemble on the parade grounds.  The men run to Pandey, who tells them that the Rangoon Regiment has landed!  The men say they are not ready.  Pandey shouts at them that it's now or never.  "For once, fight for yourselves!"  Now the men start rallying to the cause.  Three British officer ride their horses toward Pandey.  Pandey loads a rifle and shoots Hewson off his horse.  He runs over to Hewson to whack him with his saber but another sepoy holds him back. 

Gordon arrives and tries to reason with Pandey.  That doesn't work so they start sword fighting.  Hewson is tied to his horse and then the horse is send running, dragging Hewson behind it.  A wounded messenger rides to tell the local commander the rising has begun!  While the sword fight continues between the two friends, more British troops arrive, but the sepoys pull them off their horses and kill them.  Pandey wounds Gordon in the leg and he goes down on one knee.  Pandey starts to strike him in the head but stops himself.  Instead, with his closed around the sword handle he knocks Gordon out cold. 

Now the sepoys see the entire regiment coming toward them.  It's an impressive sight of an overwhelming number of white soldiers.  The local commander yells at Pandey to surrender or die!  Pandey's men are scared.  They want to run, not die.  Pandey says the revolution needs blood, and it may as well be his blood.  The men object that the rebellion needs Pandey.  He tells his men to run and tell the others that a British regiment has arrived.  The men start running.  Mandey stands alone on the platform and shoots an officer off his horse.  He starts to reload.  The British prepare to fire but the commander tells them he wants to take Pandey alive.  So now Pandey sees a thousand or more men start marching toward him.  He shoots and wounds another officer.   Now the soldiers are getting much closer.  Pandey takes his boot off, puts the barrel of his rifle to his mid-section and fires his rifle with the use of his toes.  He falls backwards. 

Gordon has regained consciousness and runs over to help the downed Pandey.  The soldiers reach the platform and pick up Pandey to take him to a hospital. 

Nana Saheb's Palace, Bithur.  Tatya Tope tells the King to strike now or perish!

Rani Lakshmi Bai's Palace, Jhansi.  Tatya Tope tells Queen Lakshmibai that the time has come earlier than expected.  She is already prepared to strike the British. 

Red Fort, Delhi.  Tatya Tope tells the King that a giant wave is rising.  Swim with it or drown!

The doctors tells Gordon and other officers that Pandey will live.  Gordon goes in to tell Pandey that if he apologizes, they will let him live.  Pandey says he's not sorry and he's not afraid of death.  Gordon feels that this is all his fault, but Pandey tells him:  "My blood is not on your hands."  He adds that all Indians are untouchables under British rule.  The fight is not about cartridges.  It's a fight for their dignity, their freedom.  He explains to Gordon that he doesn't see the whole picture:  "India is rising!"  And no one can stop it. 

April 4, 1857.  A court martial is held for Pandey.  Gordon has to give testimony damaging to Pandey.  They soon dismiss him, but he says he will say what he came to say.  The British are not being responsive to the concerns of the sepoys and this has led to the problem at hand.  But if they hang Mangal Pandey, he will become a martyr for the cause and a tide of rebellion will sweep through this land like wildfire.  The judges tells Gordon to stop it!  That is enough! 

Back to the present.  Alone, Gordon leans his back against a wall not far the gallows.  Tomorrow they will hang Pandey in front of the public. 

Heera pays a visit to Pandey in his prison cell.  She cries and hugs him.  She has brought some red dye and he takes a bit of it and marks her head with it.  She, in turn, marks his forehead with it. 

A song is sung in honor of Pandey.  He is taken to the gallows in front of a large crowd of Indians.  His shackles are taken off his feet.  His hands are still tied behind his back.  A rope is put around his neck.  Pandey shouts:  "Attack!"  His body is raised off the ground to hang there.  The Indian crowd attacks the British soldiers. 

"And so began the bloodiest rebellion in human history.  The British called it a Sepoy Mutiny, but for the Indians it was the First War of Independence.  An officer by the name of Captain William Gordon, was recorded as having joined the rebel forces and fought against the Company Raj.  The rebellion was finally put down after a year, but it destroyed the East India Company and the British Crown took over the governance of India.  Mangal Pandey in his death became a hero, a legend who inspired a nation to fight for freedom.  The dream of freedom ignited by Mangal finally came true 90 years later on 15th August 1947, when India became free."

 

Good film.  It covers the actions of Mangal Pandey, the great hero, of India and its First War of Independence.  The British called it the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857.   The former title is preferable.  The case for freedom is set out very nicely and the many grievances of the Indians against the Company were made plain to see by all.  The worst of these injustices was the injustice of wicked racism.  By declaring a people an inferior race makes it much easier to conquer and abuse them at one's whim.  I had heard about Pandey, but didn't know the details of the story at all.  Now I do.  He was quite the man.  Very brave and daring, willing to repeatedly risk his life for India's freedom.    Aamir Khan (as Sepoy Mangal Pandey) and Toby Stephens (as Captain William Gordon) were both very good in their acting roles.  I really felt the two fellows from different worlds were truly friends, even to the point of risking their future careers and lives for each other.   

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 

 

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