Raag Desh in the Time of Hyper-nationalism

Pop Culture

Raag Desh in the Time of Hyper-nationalism

Illustration: Sushant Ahire


n Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Raag Desh that chronicles the landmark Red Fort treason trials of three officers from Subhash Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army (INA), the idea of “deshbhakti” is celebrated, revered, and proudly defended despite the weight of its consequences. During different points through the film, the three patriots, Maj Gen Shah Nawaz Khan (Kunal Kapoor), Lt Col Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon (Amit Sadh), and Col Prem Sahgal (Mohit Marwah) refuse to cow down despite the charges against them. And despite the acute realisation that their fate pivoted on the possibility of a compromise.

Shah Nawaz rejects an offer of allegiance and a possible defence from the Muslim League. A hot-headed Gurbaksh refuses to apologise to the British for daring to dream of an India free from their shackles. Prem wrestles with familial longing and the promise of going back to a normal life instead of being wrongly tried for conspiring to wage a war.