05 August 2017

'Raag Desh' - Review

A review of 'Raag Desh':

In 1937, Japan started World War 2 by invading China. In 1939, Germany started the war in Europe by invading Poland. Britain declared war on Germany on behalf of the entire British Empire, including India – without the consent of Indians. In 1941, Japan attacked America and invaded South East Asia. Again Britain declared war on Japan on behalf of the entire British Empire, including India – without the consent of Indians.

Accordingly, the British Indian Army fought against the Japanese Army in South East Asia. Though it fought bravely, it lost and had to surrender in 1942. Then Subhash Chandra Bose came and told the Indian soldiers that their real duty was to fight against the British – and free India. Around 50,000 soldiers answered his call – and the Indian National Army (Azad Hind Fauj) was born.

INA fought bravely against the British under the leadership of Bose. But finally in 1945, America defeated Japan – and INA had to surrender to the British. The British denounced all INA soldiers as traitors and decided to court-martial all INA officers for treason. They started by court-martialling 3 officers (Prem Kumar Sehgal, Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon, Shah Nawaz Khan) in Red Fort in November 1945. The Indian National Congress decided to defend the 3 officers. It chose the eminent lawyer Bhulabhai Desai for the job.

The court-martial was just a formality. The verdict was a foregone conclusion. But Bhulabhai Desai fought the case like a tiger – using all his legal expertise. Finally in December the trial ended as expected: all the 3 officers were found guilty.

Meanwhile with the end of the war, Indians gradually came to know about the heroism of Bose and his INA. The whole country was filled with respect and admiration for their patriotism and courage. The court-martial only served to ignite the already burning hearts of Indians. The British came to know this and wisely decided not to punish the 3 officers – they simply dismissed them from the Army.

How did Britain rule India for 200 years? A country can rule another country only by force – ie, by its army. But an army needs men. So how could a small country like Britain have an army big enough to control a big country like India (which was 25 times bigger)? The simple answer is that it did not. The 'British Army' in India was actually a British Indian Army. That is, only its officers were British – all the soldiers were Indians. So how did Britain control India with this British Indian Army? Simple: The Indian soldiers were loyal to the British. Thus the central fact about British rule in India was that it depended completely on one factor: the loyalty of Indian soldiers to the British. As long as this factor existed, the British Raj was unshakable.

The heroics of INA in the war and the court-martial of its officers ignited the flame of patriotism in not just ordinary Indians – but more importantly, among Indian soldiers. Just a month after the court-martial (in February 1946) 10,000 sailors of the Indian Navy revolted against the British. The revolt was somehow put down, but the British realised what was happening. The foundation of their rule – the loyalty of Indian soldiers – had disappeared. The writing was on the wall – their rule in India was over. A year later (in February 1947) Britain's Prime Minister Clement Attlee announced that the British would leave India.

Tigmanshu Dhulia's Raag Desh tells the story of this important chapter in India's history. Our Leftist historians have completely erased Subhash Chandra Bose and INA from the story of our freedom struggle. Raag Desh provides a much-needed corrective to this gross distortion. Mohit Marwah, Amit Sadh and Kunal Kapoor play the 3 officers and Kenny Basumatary plays Subhash Chandra Bose. The movie features the famous INA marching song 'Kadam Kadam Badhaye Ja'.

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