Mangal Pandey: The Rising, about the 1857 mutiny in India

Mangal Pandey: The Rising, about the 1857 mutiny in India
August 24th, 2005  

Topic: Mangal Pandey: The Rising, about the 1857 mutiny in India

Mangal Pandey: The Rising, about the 1857 mutiny in India

BBC News

Bollywood film Mangal Pandey: The Rising, about the 1857 mutiny in India, has broken box office records for a Hindi film in India, reports have said.

The film, about an Indian rebellion against the colonial British, took 2.8m ($5m) in its first week.

The amount is "the highest ever on record" in India, Screen Daily said.

The film, one of the most expensive Hindi movies made, took about 120,000 in its first weekend in the UK.

The film is expected to gross 6.7m ($12m) in India, where it opened simultaneously on 400 screens.

It was filmed simultaneously in Hindi and English.

The movie depicts a revolt by Hindu and Muslim soldiers against the British East India Company over fears that gun cartridges were greased with animal fat forbidden by their religions.

Rani Mukherjee in The Rising
Bollywood actress Rani Mukherjee plays a prostitute in the film

Directed by Ketan Mehta, the film centres around soldier Mangal Pandey, played by Aamir Khan, who was executed for his role in the uprising.

Some historians have disputed the film's depiction of events.

UK historian Saul David said scenes showing British East India Company rulers massacring civilians to make way for opium production and flouting a slavery ban were "nonsense".

Indian historian Rudrangshu Mukherjee expressed reservations about Pandey's role in the 1857 rebellion.

The film's makers have defended it against criticism.

Director Ketan Mehta said the film took two years to complete because a "lot of research went into the production".

Conservatives in the UK also queried the government-backed UK Film Council's decision to invest 150,000 in the film.

The UK Film Council said it supported projects on the basis of "quality, not politics".

BBC News

Prince Charles kicks off Bollywood film
The Prince of Wales has launched the filming of a new Bollywood movie during his visit to India.

"The Rising - take one - Start!" said Prince Charles as he snapped the clapperboard on the sets of The Rising during shooting in a Bombay five-star hotel.

The Rising is based on the 1857 uprising when Hindu and Muslim soldiers revolted against the British East India Company, over fears that gun cartridges were greased with animal fat forbidden by their religions.

The film, directed by Indian filmmaker Ketan Mehta, stars popular Bollywood performers like Aamir Khan and Aishwarya Rai and British actor Toby Stephens.

Prince Charles spent 20 minutes on the film's sets as Khan, who plays an Indian soldier, acted out a scene with Stephens in the role of his British friend.

'He knew about Indian history'

"I am really honoured that Prince Charles came for the opening shot [of the film]," Khan said.

"He was asking us about the story and my character in the film. He was very knowledgeable and he knew about the Indian history of that period."

The Rising sets
Prince Charles flanked by Amir Khan (l) and Toby Stephens (r)

The film's producer Bobby Bedi said the story revolved around Indian freedom fighter Mangal Pandey and his friendship with a British commanding officer.

The revolutionary was eventually executed for his role in the uprising - known as the Indian Mutiny in the UK and the Sepoy Mutiny in India.

After the uprising was crushed, the British took control of most of the country.

"The war was against the East India Company and it created the British empire," Bedi said.

Prince Charles arrived in India on Tuesday to start his nine-day tour, focusing on the environment and heritage restoration
Source:BBC News

The most expensive film ever produced in India, The Rising, is not just big news in Bollywood - it's brought excitement to a remote corner of Central Asia.

The final scenes from the epic Indian independence drama are being filmed in the tiny Tajik village of Aychi, near the Afghan border.

Director Ketan Mehta picked Aychi because it looks like Afghanistan in the 19th century - where The Rising, starring Bollywood legend Aamir Khan, begins.

Aamir Khan is a superstar even in the most remote Tajik villages - and when he and his entourage descended suddenly on Aychi, local people gathered from far and wide to catch a glimpse.

"I never thought I would see him! Let alone act in his film!" said one young Tajik from the village.

He was among the lucky picked as extras and horsemen - for this is horse country, set between the mountains and the dusty plains that run down to the Afghan border 50km (30 miles) away.


The film tells the story of Indian independence fighter Mangal Pandey, hanged by the British in 1857.

So Aychi has been swarming with actors dressed up as Indian revolutionaries and British red-coats, sitting under umbrellas to escape the fierce Tajik sun and temperatures in the high 40s centigrade.

There's even a British camp pitched in the lee of the hills.

Costing $20m, says the Bollywood press, The Rising is a co-production between the Indian Kaleidoscope Company and the UK's Capitol Films.

It's the first part of a historical trilogy based around the independence movement.

Aamir Khan calls it a realistic film which tries to bring alive a true story: "It has a lot of resonance in today's world too," he told the BBC.

The Rising is shot in Hindi and English and is aimed at the international box office.

It's produced by Bobby Bedi who first brought Bollywood to cinemas around the world with his 1994 hit, Bandit Queen.

Cash chance

To the horsemen of Aychi, it's been a wonderful week.

The extras have picked up about $30 a day - more than most people can make in a month.

This harsh, poor region is often stricken by drought and there are few opportunities for work beyond the cotton plantations that line the road.

Some people make it to the capital, Dushanbe, an hour away, to find work as drivers or in the bazaars.

Others cross the border into Afghanistan to work as labourers on post-war building projects - but that doesn't pay anything like as well.

'So kind'

The Tajiks' enthusiasm, though, is about much more than money.

Tajiks love to host any guest - let alone a celebrity - and they have been thrilled to invite the stars and crew to their houses.

"People here are so kind and friendly," Aamir Khan says.

Bollywood films are so popular in Tajikistan that many people can sing the hits all the way through in Hindi - without understanding the words.

Most people - who can afford it - watch on pirated videos as there are few cinemas in Tajikistan.

"I love Indian films. They're so romantic," said one woman selling fruit in a bazaar in central Dushanbe.

"The old ones are best - with stars like Raj Kapoor," echoed a taxi driver.

The Rising is due for release later this year across the world - but sadly not in Aychi.