The title of the film – August 16 1947 and its positioning was intriguing enough to present a piece of history that apparently, we the audience weren’t aware of. The Hindi film viewers mostly relate A R Murugadoss with the super duper hit Aamir Khan starrer ‘Ghajani’. Though the perception remains the same however, here Murugadoss is not the director but the producer of the film.
The film begins on a high note and attractive visuals of maps and some animation to entice the audience of the production quality. The story has a basic premise about 2 days before the Indian independence and a day later. It is about a fictional village, somewhere in the then Madras, cut off from the outside world by the surrounding dense hills and forests.
A small village/hamlet types that boasts of producing the best quality cotton. It has been under the British control for the longest time and has been exploited to the last drop of blood by the rulers. So much so that it is almost under a dictator who has prohibited free entry and exit from the village. That brings to the crux of the story – the villagers remain uninformed about them being free from the Britishers on 15th of August 1947!
August 16 1947 | Story
It is about a small village that is ruled by a British officer / dictator Robert (Richard Ashton) and his son Justin (Jason Sha) who have been exploiting the villagers to produce more and more of cotton and have their prying eyes on the village girls. Most fathers end up killing their daughters to prevent their daughters being taken by Robert / Justin not without the help of the Zamindar, who himself cooked up a story of his daughter’s death in childhood itself. The girl (Revathy) remains confined to the house and is in love with a village lad Parman (Gautham Karthik).
While all these things keep happening there comes a time when India is announced as Independent. But the pronouncement letter reaches a day late. Robert makes sure that the villagers do not come to know of this until he leaves the village. The rest of the story is the over-the-top dramatic climax of the film.
One cannot single out actors for the performances in this film. It is not individualistic; everyone has delivered realistic performance with Richard Ashton taking the biggest share of the pie with his cruel and ruthless character followed by Gautham Karthik and Revathy for the significant length of their roles.
Point of View
The film had a very unique plot at their disposal, however, the writing and direction went to great lengths to establish the torture and atrocities on the people to create empathy for the villagers. Nothing wrong in that, however they forgot to make the narrative ‘interesting’. Haven’t we seen the torture and atrocities by the Britishers umpteen number of times all these years. It would have been better had they created dialogues or scenes that would engulf the audience into the narrative and not the visual representation. Or is it so that the makers wanted to include too many instances in one single story with the moot point just discussed sparingly.
Overall, N S Ponkumar’s August 16, 1947, with a very unique plot remains unattractive in its obsession to deliver multiple tracks not leading to the crux – Independence.
Movie: August 16 1947
Director: N S Ponkumar
Cast: Gautham Karthik, Revathy, Pugazh, Richard Ashton, Jason Sha, Mudhusudan Rao
Producer: A R Murugadoss
DOP: Selvakumar S K
Art Director: T Santhanam