Mangal Pandey: The Rising [Indian title] or The Rising: Ballad of Mangal Pandey [international title] [released in India on 12 August 2005] is an Indian movie based on the life of Mangal Pandey, an Indian soldier who is known for his role in the Indian rebellion of 1857. It is directed by Ketan Mehta, produced by Bobby Bedi, and with a screenplay by Farrukh Dhondy.
Aamir Khan plays the lead role of Mangal Pandey who was a Sepoy whose actions helped spark the Indian rebellion of 1857. The rebellion is also known as "The First War of Indian Independence", "The Sepoy Mutiny" or "The Sepoy Rebellion".
The film begins in 1857, when India was ruled by the British East India Company. Mangal Pandey [Aamir Khan] is a sepoy, a soldier of Indian origin, in the army of the East India Company. Pandey is fighting in the Anglo-Afghan Wars and saves the life of his British commanding officer, William Gordon [portrayed by Toby Stephens]. Gordon is indebted to Pandey and a strong friendship develops between them, transcending both rank and race.
Gordon rescues a young widow, Jwala [Ameesha Patel], from committing Sati [the act of following her deceased husband on to the funeral pyre]. Afterwards, he falls in love with her. Meanwhile, Heera [Rani Mukerji] has been sold into prostitution, to work for Lol Bibi [Kirron Kher]. There is a spark of attraction between her and Pandey and a liaison follows.
Gordon and Pandeys friendship is challenged following the introduction of a new rifle, the Enfield rifled musket. In reality as in the film, rumors began to spread among the sepoys that the cartridges [referring here to cardboard wrapped powder and shot, not metallic cartridges] were greased with either pig fat or beef tallow - an abhorrent concept to Muslim and Hindu soldiers, respectively, for religious reasons. British military drills of the time required soldiers to bite open the cartridge. The idea of having anything which might be tainted with pig or beef fat in their mouths was unacceptable to the sepoys of both religions.
In the film, Gordon investigates, and is told to assure Pandey that the cartridges are free from pollution. Demonstrating his total trust in Gordon, Mangal bites the cartridge. But Pandey soon discovers that the cartridges really are greased by animal fat. The rumour of this imposed pollution is the spark that ignites the powder keg of resentment in the country. Mutiny breaks out, led by Pandey. At one point Pandey and Gordon become involved in direct hand-to-hand combat as the latter tries to dissuade the sepoy from what he believes to be a futile exercise that will lead to only death. Pandey is captured and executed, despite the protestations of Gordon, who reasons that Pandey will be revered as a martyr and that his legacy will cause more uprising. This turns out to be correct, as the film closes to scenes of nationwide revolt against British rule.
The film ends with a montage of drawings of the historical rebellion and the narrator describes the progress of the Indian independence movement over the next century. The montage ends with documentary footage of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi leading the Indian National Congress during peaceful protests against British rule in the 1940s, eventually forcing an end to colonialism in the subcontinent.
The music of the movie was scored by A. R. Rahman with lyrics penned by Javed Akhtar.
The film had a successful start at the Indian box office, grossing Rs 172,000,000 in its opening week. The film grossed $954,000 at the U.S box office and a further $7,187,000 at foreign markets for a worldwide total of $8,142,076. It became average grosser overall.
Upon its release, the film received positive reviews receiving a 90% rating from noted critics meaning "fresh" at Rotten Tomatoes. Film critic Taran Adarsh of IndiaFM gave the film a rating of four stars of five saying that the film is "A genuine attempt at bringing alive a great hero on celluloid, the film will only bring pride and prestige in the domestic market as well as on the international platform."
Derek Elley of Variety commented, "This is the classic structure of all the best historical epics, and though the film employs recognizable Bollywood trademarks, helmer Mehtas approach is more "Western" in its rhythms, pacing and avoidance of Asian melodrama. Musical set pieces are more integrated into the action, and the focus is kept tightly on the Gordon-Pandey relationship."
Film Scholar Omer Mozaffar of RogerEbert.com commented that this film is a study in imperialism and sensitivity, comparing the issue of the rifle grease to the 1992 Los Angeles riots and the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy. The inciting event that leads to the Rising could have been avoided or quickly rectified. However, in the context of the situation, it was a larger issue of unrest due to negligent power brokers.
In India, the Bhartiya Janata Party demanded a ban on the film, accusing it of showing falsehood and indulging in character assassination of Mangal Pandey. As an example, the BJP spokesman stated that the film shows Mangal Pandey visiting the house of a prostitute. The Samajwadi Party leader Uday Pratap Singh called in the Rajya Sabha for the movie to be banned for its "inaccurate portrayal" of Pandey. The Uttar Pradesh government criticised the film for "distortion" of historical facts, and considered banning it. Protestors in Ballia district, of which the historical Pandey had been a native, damaged a shop selling cassettes and CDs of the film, stalled a goods train on its way to Chapra [Bihar], and staged a sit-in on the Ballia-Barriya highway.
Source : Mangal Pandey: The Rising Wiki Page