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Randeep Hooda’s ‘Swatantrya Veer Savarkar’ is a Fitting Rejoinder to Marxist Historians’ Version of India’s Freedom Struggle

Randeep Hooda’s ‘Swatantrya Veer Savarkar’ is a Fitting Rejoinder to Marxist Historians’ Version of India’s Freedom Struggle

  • After watching this biopic, I was rendered speechless with so many emotions of anger, admiration, sadness, gratitude, and, above all, inspiration.

Savarkar means Tej (Brightness)
Savarkar means Tyaag (Sacrifice)
Savarkar means Tap (Struggle)
Savarkar means Tattva (Truth)
Savarkar means Tark (Logic)
Savarkar means Tarang (Tide)
Savarkar means Teer Aur Talwar (Arrow & Sword)

— Prime Minister of Bharat Shri Narendra Modi.

We often hear that in history, there are figures sometimes obscured, their valor deliberately overshadowed by the narratives of others. In my school days, I was an avid reader with an insatiable appetite for History. I used to read the entire history textbook for the grade within a few days of the commencement of the school year. This was recognized even by my history teachers, who used to ask me to conduct history quizzes for my classmates. As many of the readers here can relate, the history textbooks had glorifying narrations of Ashoka, Delhi Sultanate, Mughals, British, and eventually the non-violent freedom movement led by Gandhi and Nehru that was supposed to have gotten us our independence in 1947. As a school kid in the 1980s, without the internet, my knowledge was limited to the history written in these textbooks. Again, this is something that the readers can very much relate to.

With the advent of the internet and the explosion of social media in the late 2000s, I now had an inexhaustible resource pool of history. I now had access to books of great historians like Shri Sita Ram Goel and Shri Ramesh Chandra Majumdar. But I also soon realized how our school “History” textbooks, from what I had learned, were the works of a Marxist ecosystem that, under the garb of being ‘secular’ and ‘liberal’, fed us distorted and one-sided history. I realized their evil machinations, where they deliberately whitewashed the barbaric acts that had been purposely concealed and transformed into a ‘secular historical experience.’ I also learned that true historical heroes were intentionally buried and how false heroes were taught to generations.

I felt deceived and deprived.

Coincidentally, around the same time of this realization, I was fortunate to join a friends’ circle where I got to learn about patriots and legends like Dr. Hegdewar, Guruji, Swami Vivekananda, and, importantly, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, fondly called Veer Savarkar, a towering figure deliberately erased from the pages of our textbooks. I got the great honor to conduct a discussion about Veer Savarkar, and in preparation, I had the great privilege to read his book where Veer Savarkar eloquently defines Hindu and Hindutva and also lays out the six epochs of Bharat’s History. His definition of Hindu and Hindutva resonated deeply, a clarion call to reclaim our heritage and identity: A Hindu is a person who regards the land of Bharatvarsha from Sindhu to the seas, as their ancestral land (Pitrbhu) as well as their holy land (Punyabhu) and that which is the cradle of their Dharma.

I could also see how he could make bulletproof arguments when he said why he specifically had chosen the six epochs of Bharat’s history: “I mean the one from the history of that warlike generation and the brave leaders and successful warriors who inspire and lead it on to a war of liberation to free their Nation from the shackles of foreign domination whenever it has the misfortune to fall prey to such powerful fatal aggression and to grovel abjectly under it, and who ultimately drive away the enemy making it an absolutely free and sovereign Nation.”

Needless to say, I was super excited to hear that, finally, there was a movie being made about this deliberately forgotten Mahatma. Just watching the trailer gave me goosebumps.

And so, when the movie “Swatantrya Veer Savarkar” was released on March 22, I took my family to watch it. After watching this biopic, I was indeed rendered speechless with so many emotions of anger, admiration, sadness, gratitude, and, above all, inspiration. “Classic” is the word that came to mind after watching the movie because only a classic can visually evoke so many emotions and leave you spellbound.

Randeep Hooda’s portrayal of Savarkar was nothing short of mesmerizing, a testament to his dedication as both an actor and director. I did not see Randeep in the movie; I felt like I was witnessing one of the most towering personalities of Bharat’s freedom struggle on screen! Randeep’s immersion into the character transcended mere acting; it was a homage to a titan of our freedom struggle.

It’s a challenge to capture the lifetime of a great man of many talents and accomplishments like Savarkar in under three hours. Still, the film does just that and shows almost every important aspect of his life. Kudos to Randeep and his team for picking up the key milestones from the life of Savarkar and presenting it with a compelling and awe-inspiring screenplay that keeps you riveted to your seats through the three-hour saga. Despite time constraints, the movie encapsulates the essence of Savarkar’s life journey and leaves an indelible mark on the audience. The production quality and performances held us spellbound throughout the biopic.

“Swatantrya Veer Savarkar” isn’t merely a movie; it’s a testament to our suppressed history, an ode to the sacrifices of those who dared to defy it.

The movie starts with a young Vinayak and his family witnessing their father’s death under the apathy and atrocities of the British Raj. Overcoming this tragedy, he soon grows up with his two brothers and decides that he wants to be a freedom fighter. His sole mission in life is to drive out the British from Bharat. The reason behind this life’s mission is also very well shown in the movie where Savarkar, when asked by his captors, says he doesn’t hate the British but hates slavery. Vinayak’s first stop on this daunting mission is Pune, where he gets admission into Fergusson College. Even before entering the campus, he established the Abhinav Bharat Society and is executing the plan for the freedom movement. His eventual ambition is to go to London and learn British law so that he can fight the British using their rules.

While his friends and fellow freedom fighters spread the word and motive of Abhinav Bharat Society across the country, Savarkar is focused on motivating his fellow students at his college to become a part of the freedom movement. During his stay in Pune, he meets the legendary nationalist leader, Lokmanya Tilak, who takes him under his wing and helps him fulfill his dream of studying in London. At this point, there’s a short but very interesting exchange between Veer Savarkar and his wife, Yamuna Bai, who fears for Savarkar and brings up the taboo of crossing the seas. Savarkar comforts her by saying that when the oceans wash Bharat Mata’s feet, how can the seas harm him? This one short conversation yet again showed how motivated Savarkar was in achieving his goals and the brilliant arguments that he could make to disarm the other side.

Upon reaching London, he was awarded a scholarship to study law by the then-resident of London, Pandit Shyamji Krishna Varma. And there, as part of India House, he leads freedom fighters like Madanlal Dhingra, Madam Cama, S.R. Rana, Bhai Parmanand, Lala Hardayal, Senapati Bapat, Harnaam Singh, Niranjan Pal, MPT Acharya, V.V.S. Aiyar, Chempakaraman Pillai, V.N. Chaterjee, Ganesh Sri Krishna Khaparde, Gyanchand Verma, Dr. Joachim DeSequeira Coutinho, Syed Haidar Raza, LalGovind Amin, and Dr. Rajan; becoming the fountainhead of Indian Armed Revolution, in London, brewing right under the nose of imperialism and colonialism.

Amidst the riveting narrative, the film delves into the contrasting characters of Savarkar and Gandhi, offering a nuanced portrayal of their ideological differences. Their divergent thoughts and approaches have been depicted very well, from simple food preferences to a deeper intellectual level of interpreting Prabhu Shri Rama and Vijayadashami.

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The film, at a rapid pace, goes on to show how Savarkar’s fight for Bharat’s freedom takes surprising turns, with him even getting arrested and his attempt to escape his British captors on French soil by jumping out of the porthole of his ship at Marseille port. The torture Savarkar faces during his incarceration in the infamous “Kaala Paani” Prison on the Andaman islands, where he is serving two life terms, is bone-chilling. Yet, this Mahatma does not lose hope. He even outlasts his captors and demonstrates that you can physically capture a person and subject them to torture but can never arrest their firm conviction. In a short conversation, we see how the captured Savarkar influences his captor, Reginald H. Craddock. The latter admits that Savarkar had almost convinced him that the British were in the wrong, and therefore, we realize why the British termed Savarkar “The Most Dangerous Man.”

One aspect I particularly appreciated about the movie “Swatantrya Veer Savarkar” was its thorough exploration not only of Savarkar’s life but also of his brothers’ Ganesh Damodar Savarkar and Narayan Damodar Savarkar. What struck me most was the exploration of Savarkar’s family, particularly his brother, whose fate mirrored the shadows cast upon the nationalist movement. The film not only resurrects Savarkar but also sheds light on the unsung heroes who stood by him, his brothers, and his wife Yamuna Bai. Did you know that after Gandhi’s assassination, Narayan Damodar was dragged out of his house and hit by stones by Congress workers? He never fully recovered and later died in 1949.

“Swatantrya Veer Savarkar” isn’t merely a movie; it’s a testament to our suppressed history, an ode to the sacrifices of those who dared to defy it. As the names of Chapekar Brothers, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Khudiram Bose, Anant Kanhare, Madan Lal Dhingra, Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Rajguru, and Subhas Chandra Bose resound, their connection and the inspiration they had drawn from Savarkar becomes unmissable. Through their struggles, we witness the evolution of a nation yearning to break free from the shackles of oppression, and we realize why his name was removed from history books, to assert the narrative of non-violence.

In its portrayal of Savarkar, the movie unveils a multifaceted persona: an intellectual, a visionary, and above all, a patriot with a never-say-die attitude. Randeep’s rejection of a secularized script underscores the importance of authenticity in preserving and presenting our true history. “Swatantrya Veer Savarkar” isn’t just a movie — it’s a reminder of our collective responsibility to honor those who sacrificed everything for our motherland. Let us heed the call, not just for ourselves but for the legacy of Veer Savarkar, a beacon of hope in our nation’s history. I urge every reader to watch this movie with their family, especially the next generation, so they too can get a profound admiration for a man who dared to dream of a free Bharat! A man whom we should have been taught about in our formative years.

And as the credits rolled I felt informed and blessed.

Akhand Bharat Amar Rahe!

Shreyas Suresh is a Pravaasi Bharatiya residing in Naperville, IL. Please follow him on X @vande_mataram.

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