Go.ndyaa parat aalaaThe Indian Express reports that the riveting 22 June, 1897 is marking "25 years" (see note 2), and the occasion is being marked in many a small way. I remember watching the film as a child, and was completely fascinated by the story, the acting and the narration. Infrequent repeat viewings have confirmed its status as a classic, and as the makers Nachiket and Jayoo Patwardhan mention in the news article, it was a uniquely dispassionate look at what is supposed to be the 1st assassination of a British officer in India.
The story is probably not well known outside Maharashtra, so a small summary is in order. In 1897, Poona is in the midst of an outbreak of plague, and the resulting insensitive actions by the British government causes extreme anger among the local residents. The Chapekar brothers, incensed by their actions, decide to assassinate Commissioner Rand. Their spiritual mentor is Bal Gangadhar Tilak (interestingly, the situation uncannily echoes the question of whether and to what extent Savarkar was involved in the Gandhi assassination exactly 50 years before). The deed done, the rest of the story deals with their attempts to evade arrest which is unsuccessful because of the Dravid brothers and subsequent hanging. This happened on University/Ganeshkhind Road, now an arterial road in the city and the spot (10 minutes from my home) is marked by a small memorial.
The film boasts of some wonderful acting by Sadashiv Amrapurkar as Tilak, and recognisably, Ravindra Mankani (whom I later came to know was an alumnus of COEP) as a younger Chapekar. Only today did I realise the contributions of Vijay Tendulkar and Shankar Nag as well. The only online notice of the VCD I could find is in this eBay extract and you would do well to take a look at the movie.
1. The title of this post means "Go.ndyaa is back", a reference to the codephrase employed during the murder.
2. The timing of this news article is a little suspect for if the movie was made in 1979, it would be either 26 or 27 years old and not 25. Perhaps this has more to do with the producers of the VCD finding publicity obliquely.