The official trailer for Gour Hari Dastaan: The Freedom File was uploaded on YouTube on Wednesday morning. The film, directed by Ananth Narayan Mahadevan, is a biopic depicting the real-life travails of Gour Hari Das, a freedom fighter who fought the government for 32 years to be recognised as such.
Vinay Pathak plays Das, a freedom fighter of the Gandhian persuasion, who has to fight another battle more than six decades after independence against an arguably heftier adversary: bureaucracy. According to this piece by Indiatimes, the real-life Das was compelled to fight for his rights after he tried to get his son admitted to a Mumbai-based polytechnic on the basis of the freedom fighter quota and was told that he lacked the necessary paperwork (a freedom fighter certificate) and credentials to be considered eligible for the quota. Gour Hari Dastaan documents this struggle, with Pathak's look changing to show the character aging from his late 40s to 80, when he finally won his battle.
The real-life Das, who is now 85, is currently the general secretary of the National Anti Corruption and Crime Preventive Council (NACCPC). In the pre-Independence era, Das, then a teenager, was a member of the Vanar Sena, a group of youngsters who would pass messages to senior compatriots. At 14, he was jailed for about 40 days for hoisting the tricolour in a public place, an act that had been made illegal by the British-led government at the time.
While he was proud of his contribution to the struggle, in later years, he expressed regret about how things turned out. In his quest to get a freedom fighter certificate, he was constantly humiliated by government officials. "At times I felt the British were far better than our own people. It is sad, but true. They were strict and would not allow any corruption and lethargy," he once told DNA.
The well-cut trailer, which depicts Das's struggle as a series of numbers — he knocked on 321 doors, climbed 66,000 steps, and wrote 1,043 letters in his journey — is striking in the way it uses music, which the editing locks on to perfectly. Some of the shots by cinematographer Alphonse Roy shown in the trailer look beautiful. The lone gripe is that some scenes come across as slightly over-dramatised for its aesthetic but that could be because of the lack of context.
The cast also includes Konkona Sen Sharma, who plays his wife, and, Rajit Kapur, and Ranvir Shorey. The film has been written by well-known journalist C.P. Surendran.
It's also worth noting that the director Mahadevan's last Hindi outing was the widely-panned crime caper The Xpose (2014), which starred Himesh Reshammiya and Yo Yo Honey Singh. However, he was also the director and screenwriter of the Marathi film Mee Sindhutai Sapkal, which won four National Awards.
Gour Hari Dastaan releases in theatres on August 14. Watch the trailer above.