Swatantrya Veer Savarkar Review: A Brave Attempt

"Swatantrya Veer Savarkar" movie is not only the story of freedom fighter Savarkar, but it's a saga of Akhand Bharat, & it also talks about the contrast ideologies of Savarkar and Gandhiji. 

General Rating

In a nut-shell:

A Brave Attempt

Swatantrya Veer Savarkar Star Cast/ Actors: Randeep Hooda as Veer Savarkar, Ankita Lokhande as Yamunabai Savarkar (Veer Savarkas’s wife), Rajesh Khera as Gandhiji, Amit Sial as Babarao Savarkar

Swatantrya Veer Savarkar Director: Randeep Hooda

Swatantrya Veer Savarkar Release Date: March 22nd, 2024

Swatantrya Veer Savarkar Available On: Theatrical Release (likely to be released on Zee5)

Swatantrya Veer Savarkar Released/ Available In Languages: Hindi, Marathi

Swatantrya Veer Savarkar Runtime: 178 Minutes

Swatantrya Veer Savarkar Critic Review:

Much like the controversial Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, Randeep Hooda’s favourable portrayal of the freedom fighter will evoke polarised reactions.

It also leaves you with mixed feelings.

On the one hand, you can’t help but admire the heaps of research that have gone into its making, the vastness of the history it covers within a controlled budget (reportedly Rs 30 crore) and the evocative use of mood cinematography by Arvind Krishna.

On the other hand are its inordinately exhausting length (close to three hours) and its obvious slant which will straightaway put off those inclined towards a different ideology.

When Randeep Hooda opts to produce, write (with Utkarsh Naithani), direct and play the titular protagonist, it prejudices him from using edit tools effectively. And the camera tends to give him far too many close-ups.

Witha saga that harks back to the 1857 mutiny which Vinayak effectively rewrote as India’s First War of Independence, the canvas of a fiery revolutionary who lived, witnessed and made history from 1883 to 1966, is boundless. Hooda tries to tell it all from Vinayak’s nationalistic perch that, in the process,dwarfs every other personality.

Vinayak’s belief in armed revolution and his secret Abhinav Bharat movement that was at odds with the non-violence preached by MK Gandhi (Rajesh Khera), has the latter coming off almost like a snake-oil salesman. Gandhi puttingahinsa on the backburner when he sends Indians to fight the World Wars for Britain; his minority-appeasing insistence on backing the Khilafat Movement which had even Jinnah wondering why we should bother about a movement in far-off Turkey, and his inability to logically answer Vinayak when he asks him why he didn’t extend the same appeasement privileges to other minorities, are spelt out by Hooda. Nehru is also passed off as “selected Prime Minister, not elected” and Vinayak raises the uncomfortable question, “Was any Congress leader ever sent to Kala Pani?”

In chiselling away the stature of everybody else, it is Vinayak who stands out as the man who supports Madan Lal Dhingra (played with affable zest by Mrinal Dutt) when he assassinates Curzon Wyllie in London; it is Vinayak who encourages Subhas Chandra Bose to go to Germany and fight the British; it is Vinayak who meets Lenin and learns how to make bombs. The list goes on andthat’s where an uninvolved director may have known when to say, stop.

But there is no denying the importance of telling the full story of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and putting forth his perspective. The Crown’s fear of his influence that compelled it to deport him to India where the law for “natives” was harshly different from the more lenient justice he would’ve got in London, the unfair re-arrest from French soil, the two life sentences to be served in the barbaric Cellular Jail or Kala Pani at Andaman that he was singled out for, the barbaric atrocities and solitary confinements in jail, the infamous mercy petition, all of it required chronicling and Hooda does it without pulling his punches.

Vinayak’s unwavering belief in Akhand Bharat that was shattered with the capitulation to the two-nation Partition, his first-hand witnessing of flagrant forced conversion of prisoners to Islam which was fanned by the British to widen the religious divide and prevent a united struggle for independence, and his final outburst that “Hindutva” was the only counter to the Muslim League’s religious fervour, everything is detailed.

But again, unless you know your history, many turning points like the hanging of the Chapekar Brothers and Khudiram Bose, the Moplah Riots, the Khilafat Movement, the communal killings in Bengal,and the aftermath of Gandhi’s assassination, could be lost on the viewer.

Hooda makes it a point to include the Royal Indian Navy revolt that rattled the British who had to accept that this was no longer the India of 1857. Gandhi’s assassination, the many attempts to indict Vinayak Savarkar and his final exoneration, also find a place in Hooda’s elaborate storytelling.

But again, there are far too many finger-wagging monologues which make it exhausting.

Hooda and team get the production details right and give Gandhi and Vinayak an interesting transformation in the way they look. Gandhi enters India House in a rarely seen formal suit, morphing over the years into the more recognised man in the loin cloth. Vinayak goes from collegian at Fergusson in Pune to law student in London who takes to the British way of life (clothing, non-veg et al), and then to the incarcerated and much-tortured freedom fighter shut away in the dreaded hell in the Andamans.

Randeep Hooda’s sincerity is unmissable. Amit Sial as older brother Ganesh Damodar, his staunchest supporter, and Ankita Lokhande as Vinayak’s wife Yamuna Bai are superbly cast. 

Swatantrya Veer Savarkar- Watch it or Not?: It is an important interpretation of the controversial freedom fighter but you can sit through it only if you’re invested in the Savarkar story.

Swatantrya Veer Savarkar Review Score Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Swatantrya Veer Savarkar Official Trailer:

Swatantrya Veer Savarkar Official Trailer (Credits: ZeeTV)

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A Brave Attempt Swatantrya Veer Savarkar Review: A Brave Attempt