'' England is so small that if we Hindustanis ( Indians ) all come together with our vast population to collectively spit on it , then it will drown in the torrent of that spit....''---said by Lokmanya .
This film deals with the life and times of Bal Gangadhar Tilak , one of the luminaries of the Indian independence struggle against the British . But it begins in the modern era .
A young man ( played by Chinmay Mandlekar ) who is a journalist by profession , stumbles upon a book on Tilak . He gets so mesmerized by the personality of the great man that he forgets everything else and begins to research Tilak's life . As he does so , he gets so inspired by the leader that his whole personality undergoes a change . His fiancee ( played by Priya Bapat ) initially gets stupefied by his change , but gradually learns to adjust to it . The movie unfolds before us in scenes of Tilak's life as this young man digs deeper and deeper into his era and learns of new incidents .
The personality of Tilak that emerges out of the movie is that of a strident nationalist , proud of his hindu roots and doubly proud of the ancient traditions of the land he was born in . A dreamer of a unified and free India , and having the chutzpah to actively work and struggle for those dreams . A man with ambitions as tall as the himalayas and courage to fuel real fire in those ambitions .
To realize these ambitions Tilak starts two newspapers spreading his message---'Kesari' and 'Maratha' . He asks Indians to boycott British made goods and use only Indian made goods . The idea of starting to celebrate the festival of Hindu God Ganesha openly on streets is his , but the platform of using the religious festival to give fiery speeches exhorting his countrymen to resist British rule is nothing short of inspirational .
But he calls the nation 'Hindustan' ( land of the hindus ) rather than 'Bharat' or 'India' , thus showing his tilt towards hindu nationalism . And he opposes social reform on the basis that the British do not have the right to interfere in Hindu traditions . This gives rise to severe differences with his lifelong friend Gopal Ganesh Agarkar , who believes that social reform must precede the march towards independence . While Agarkar wants to end oppression of women by changing the laws , Tilak opposes this by saying that trying to change laws means going to the British rulers for asking for that change , thus legitimizing their rule .
And Tilak not only opposes foreign rule , but is ever ready to use strong arm tactics to revolt against it . The crisis comes when plague strikes the country , and the British appoint a brutal officer called Rand to try to suppress it . Tilak is outraged by the manner in which Indians and particularly women are dragged by British officers out of their houses in an effort to quarantine their houses . And he is hell bent on using violence to avenge this dishonour....
So what is the violence that Tilak resorts to ?? What is the British government's response to it ??
Watch the movie for that....
Actor Subodh Bhave puts real meat in the role of Tilak , roaring like a lion in his speeches and silencing everyone around him with the firmness of his stance and power of his personality . Subodh makes Tilak look every inch a leader , born to lead the masses around him . Not surprisingly , Tilak is titled 'Lokmanya'---meaning 'acknowleged by the people' .
But due to the limited budget , the movie fails to show Tilak on the grand stage---as a pan Indian leader . He is shown mainly in the city of Pune , surrounded by people of his own caste---brahmins . Some scenes of Tilak meeting Swami Vivekananda and Bipin Chandra Pal in Calcutta do not fully bring out his leadership of the Indian independence struggle in the pre Gandhi era .
Inspite of this shortcoming , you do get a real feel of those times ( the movie is set a century ago ) and that era . Acting is good , by everyone . Colours and photography are commendable . No songs are there but music is appropriate for the situation in every scene . Not a bad watch....
Verdict---Very decent effort .
Three stars .