Envoy Score: 4/5
The Forgotten Army: Azaadi Ke Liye is a web series by Kabir Khan and Rajan Kapoor for Amazon Prime Video. Based on The Indian National Army, this series a must-watch.
The story opens with Surinder Sodhi (M.K.Raina) going to Singapore after 50 years as he reminisces about his past. He discusses it with his nephew Amar (Karanvir Malhotra), who is a journalism student. It dates back to the days of the Second World War in Singapore where the soldiers of the British Indian Army were held captive by the Japanese.
A younger Sodhi (Sunny Kaushal), who is a soldier in the British Indian Army in Singapore, gets inspired by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s clarion call Chalo Dilli and joins the Indian National Army (INA). At the same time, the Rani Jhansi Regiment is also established as an all-women army which subsequently gets trained by Sodhi.
Many soldiers from British Indian Army join the INA, along with volunteers from Singapore and Malaysia. One of them is Maya (Sharvari Wagh), a young photojournalist who too gets inspired by Netaji and joins the Rani Jhansi Regiment.
On their march to India, war separates Sodhi and Maya, who share camaraderie between them. Sodhi is held by the British as a prisoner of war after losing against them in Burma whereas Maya stays back in Burma fighting her own battle.
In the present day, the elderly Sodhi is accompanied by his nephew revisits Rangoon after 50 years which makes him nostalgic. He gets an opportunity again to make a fresh sacrifice, but for a different cause this time.
The find of the season is undoubtedly Sunny Kaushal whose performance will be cherished for years. Another one who impresses is the debutante Sharvari Wagh, who has donned the role of Maya with great maturity and dignity.
Other performances by T.J. Bhanu as Rasamma, Rohit Chaudhary as Arshad, Amala Akkineni and Nizhalgal Ravi as Maya’s parents and even actor-filmmaker Takeshi Kitano as a Japanese General, touch your heart and will stay with you for quite a long time.
Everything is buzzing with positive energy in this series right from episode one, which starts with a voice-over by Shah Rukh Khan.
The picture-perfect locations and realistic war zones (though there is CGI involved), which are captured by Cinematographer Aseem Mishra, give the whole series a superlative look. All those wide and top angle shots are magnificent. The interspersed real-time visuals add more authenticity to the narration.
Pritam’s music elevates The Forgotten Army to the highest level and the Guinness World Record-breaking performance is another feather in his cap. The Background score by Joel Crasto keeps the viewer engaged all through this 5 episode web series.
Sham Kaushal’s fights and battle sequences are to be seen rather than described. They will leave every one simply wide-eyed and speechless.
The conviction with which Kabir Khan makes films is evident from his earlier works on the big screen. The same conviction can be seen all through this short web series without any deviation or ambiguity.
The seed for this story which, was sown as a docuseries also titled The Forgotten Army on INA for Doordarshan way back in 1999, comes out in its full form and glory after 20 years. This illustrates how close this story is to Khan. He has not compromised on anything to create The Forgotten Army as the huge spectacle it deserves to be.
By presenting the saga of the unsung soldiers who laid down their lives for India’s freedom and in turn were branded as traitors is a small, yet fruitful attempt to honour their memory.
There is nothing in The Forgotten Army that lets one down except for a few dialogues being out of sync which could be due to some technical snag.
The web series is a must-watch for every Indian. Everyone deserves to know about the valiant sacrifices made by the soldiers of the INA and listen to those gallant battle cries which were hushed up in the annals of history.