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Bollywood bids for the mainstream.There are two sides to Bollywood: there’s the popular perception of rambunctious movies, brimful of song, dance and kitsch fashion; then there are the political stories that populated Indian cinema’s golden age in the 50s and, more recently, in the films of Satyajit Ray. Director Ketan Mehta’s The Rising, set in 1857 and telling the story of Mangal Panday’s journey from East India Company soldier to freedom fighter opposing British rule, belongs largely to political Bollywood.
However, like British box-office hit Lagaan, which detailed a village’s resistance to British rule through cricket, The Rising throws an olive branch to the more populist nature of Bollywood and does itself a grave disservice in the process, by including spurious dance numbers. When it sticks to dramatics, The Rising is a thought-provoking discourse on culture, the corruption of power, and friendship, which has a contemporary resonance and shows that Indian cinema is more than just a fashion parade.
The Rising, on general release 12 August 05.
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