Mumbai: Each Republic Day is an opportunity to look back and assess if as the citizens of a free nation, we are honoring those who fought for our freedom and enshrined the values of democracy in our Constitution. Here is our pick of some Zee Theatre plays and a few films that ask pertinent questions about if we have progressed or regressed on the path of self-determination. These stories also delve deep into the socio-political realities of the country and explore human and societal issues that concern all of us.
Do we care about the unsung heroes of the freedom struggle? ‘Seven’, the Hindi adaptation of Catherine O’Reilly and Tim Churchill’s play, ‘The Magnificent Seven’ asks this very question.Set in an old age home in 1997, it focuses on camaraderie between former freedom fighters who decide to join the 50th Independence Day celebrations in Delhi. They make a plan to escape from the confines of their old age home and what happens next is incredibly inspiring. ‘Seven’, directed by Nitin Shingal stars Pawan Maskara, Beena Banerjee, Kanwaljeet Singh, Shubha Khote, Yusuf Hussain, Utkarsh Mazumdar, Jayashankar Tripathi, Neeraj Aneja, Ronjini Chakraborty, Payal Nair, Saloni Grover, and Swanandi Tikekar. It will be aired on January 26th on Tata Play Theatre.
When we were battling the British, we knew who the enemy was but who are we battling today is the question this play directed by Saahil Saple asks. The story is about the “internal enemy” we may hate but who will win this battle between violence and humanity and what is the moral cost of revenge? The protagonists include PK, a highly placed commander, and a politician on a mission to kill an activist fighting for freedom and equality. A young foot-soldier Somu and an ex-army recruit Darshan, are entrusted with a deadly mission but Darshan begins to question the morality of the task he is being asked to carry out. The play stars Raj Arjun, Manoj Kolhatkar, Jayant Gadekar, and Siddharth Menon.
State vs Malti Mhaske
Can all Indian citizens access their constitutional rights? This hard-hitting play conveys that the answer is, ‘No.’ This adaptation of Gary Earl Ross’ award-winning courtroom drama, ‘Matter of Intent revolves around a 20-year-old Dalit house help Malti, who is accused of murdering her employer from a higher caste. Malti is condemned even before the trial has begun and seems fated for the gallows but then a lawyer, Tara, steps in to reveal some hidden truths. Watch the play to find out if Malti gets justice that is due to her. Directed by Nikhil Mahajan, the teleplay stars Divya Menon, Sagar Deshmukh, Smita Tambe, and Vikram Kochhar.
Is there any antidote for communal hate? Sahitya Akademi Award-winning playwright Mahesh Dattani’s play, ‘Final Solutions’ discusses how communal conflicts continue to rupture relationships and create social divides till date. The play travels through three generations post-independence and progresses through the narratives of various characters to prove that it is perhaps not possible to dissolve deep rooted biases once and for all. The play stars Himanshu Tyagi, Shalini Vatsa, Chandan Anand, Payal Nair and Priyanka Charan.
We may idolize the heroes of the independence movement but do we really value what they stood for? The Hindi adaptation of Shafaat Khan’s Marathi classic play, ‘ Shobhayatra ‘ reveals the gap between the idealism of nation-builders and freedom fighters and the opportunism of the present age. Set during India’s 50th Independence Day celebrations, the play shows protagonists from various professions deciding to act as iconic leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Rani Lakshmibai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, and Subhas Chandra Bose. Strangely enough, the play is sponsored by a gangster. ‘Shobhayatra’ stars Chirag Vohra, Ayaz Khan, Mansi Multani, Anand Alkunte, and Nikhil Ratnaparkhi. The play filmed by Attar Singh Saini and directed for the stage by Ganesh Yadav will be aired on January 26th on Dish TV and then on D2H Rangmanch and Airtel Theatre
Rang De Basanti
Has the promise of a free, fair and equitable Republic been fulfilled or do we need another freedom movement to question injustice and corruption? These questions were asked by this 2006 Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra film which starred Aamir Khan, Siddharth, Atul Kulkarni, Soha Ali Khan, Sharman Joshi and Kunal Kapoor. Confronted by a tragedy, and inspired by the freedom fighters of the independence struggle, these young Indians find a sense of purpose and decide to do something. The film also led to candle light vigils seeking justice for Jessica Lal and still remains one of the most influential films of the last few decades. It can be streamed on Netflix.
The Legend of Bhagat Singh
In 1965, Manoj Kumar starred in a biopic about martyred revolutionary Bhagat Singh and in 2002, two films came out to retell the same story. Of these two, the Rajkumar Santoshi version was decidedly superior and also won lead actor Ajay Devgn a National Award. The film reminded us just how many sacrifices were made to win India its independence and how callous we are with the privileges that so many freedom fighters laid down their lives for. AR Rahman’s goose-bump inducing score is another reason to rewatch this modern classic on Netflix. ‘The Legend of Bhagat Singh’ also had strong performances by Sushant Singh, D. Santosh and Akhilendra Mishra.