Mangal Pandey: The Rising

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Mangal Pandey: The Rising
Mangal Pandey movie poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byKetan Mehta
Screenplay byFarrukh Dhondy
Ranjit Kapoor
(Hindi script)
Story byFarrukh Dhondy
Produced byBobby Bedi
Ketan Mehta
Deepa Sahi
StarringAamir Khan
Toby Stephens
Rani Mukerji
Ameesha Patel
Kirron Kher
Narrated byOm Puri
CinematographyHimman Dhamija
Edited byA. Sreekar Prasad
Music byA. R. Rahman
Distributed byKaleidoscope Entertainment
Tfk Films
INOX Leisure Limited
Yash Raj Films
Release date
  • 12 August 2005 (2005-08-12)
Running time
151 minutes
Budget340 million[1]
Box office520 million[2]

Mangal Pandey: The Rising (internationally known as The Rising: Ballad of Mangal Pandey) is a 2005 Indian historical biographical drama film based on the life of Mangal Pandey, an Indian soldier known for helping to spark the Indian rebellion of 1857 (also known as The First War of Indian Independence).

It is directed by Ketan Mehta, produced by Bobby Bedi and with a screenplay by Farrukh Dhondy. The lead role is played by Aamir Khan, marking his comeback after he had gone into hiatus after Dil Chahta Hai (2001).

It premiered in the Marché du Film section of the 2005 Cannes Film Festival.[3][4] It was the fourth highest-grossing film of 2005.[5]


It is the year 1857, a large part of the Indian subcontinent is under the control of the British East India Company. On 7 April, in Barrackpore, Mangal Pandey (Aamir Khan), a sepoy (soldier of Indian origin) in the 34th Bengal Native Infantry of the company's army, is being led to his execution by hanging for fomenting mutiny against company rule. Witnessing the execution is Pandey's friend, Captain William Gordon (Toby Stephens), who is relieved when the execution is delayed due to the hangman's refusal to hang Pandey. The film then flashes back to four years earlier. While fighting in Afghanistan, Pandey saves Gordon's life by dragging him to safety when the two were targeted by Afghan snipers. Afterwards, Gordon seeks out Pandey at a camp and offers him his pistol as a token of gratitude. Three years later during the New year's Eve at a ball at the Governor General's palace in Calcutta, Pandey angers Captain Hewson (Ben Nealon) when he attempts to stop him from severely beating an Indian servant for inadvertently touching Emily Kent, the daughter of Mr. Graham Kent, an influential British businessman. Gordon witnesses the assault but does not stop it leading to tension with Pandey. However he apologizes to Pandey during a wrestling match and a friendship is formed between them transcending rank, colour and race.

The company then introduces a new weapon in January 1857 for its troops: the Enfield rifled musket. Rumours spread among the sepoys that the paper cartridges holding the powder and ball for the rifle are greased with either pig fat or beef tallow; the process of loading the rifle requires the soldier to bite down on the cartridge, and the soldiers believe that this would cause them to consume pork or beef — acts abhorrent to Muslim and Hindu soldiers for religious reasons.[6] A low-caste labourer named Nainsukh teases Pandey, a Brahmin, that he has lost his caste by using such a gun, but Pandey dismisses Nainsukh's taunts. The sepoys, led by Pandey, express their concerns to General Hearsey (Jeremy Clyde), but he reassures them that no such cartridge exists. The sepoys remain concerned when they are asked to test-fire the new rifle at musketry drill, but Gordon, after talking to Hearsey, reiterates that no such cartridge exists and asks a sepoy to test-fire the rifle. Pandey volunteers, and his fellow sepoys chastise him afterward. However, demonstrating his trust in Gordon, he states his belief that the rumours are untrue.

Meanwhile, Gordon stops a Sati ceremony from occurring and rescues a widow, Jwala (Ameesha Patel). He arranges for her to be treated, and the two gradually become closer, eventually having an affair. Also, Pandey further earns Captain Hewson's ire by stopping him from trying to rape a tawaif named Heera (Rani Mukerji), who was sold to a brothel run by Lal Bibi (Kirron Kher). He suffers a serious beating from Hewson and three other officers the next day, but Gordon intervenes and saves Pandey. Pandey meets Heera at the brothel afterwards, and they begin to fall in love with each other. Some time later, Nainsukh takes Pandey and some other sepoys to see the factory, owned by Mr. Kent, where the cartridge grease is made; indeed, the grease turns out to be pig fat and beef tallow. Pandey, believing Gordon lied to him, returns Gordon's pistol and ends their friendship.

Hearing of the 34th Regiment's refusal to use the rifles, the 19th Regiment at Berhampore also refuses to use them in a parade at the ground on 12 February 1857, and mutiny brews among the sepoys. Gordon unsuccessfully attempts to dissuade Pandey and the mutineers from rebelling, and is likewise unsuccessful at convincing Major General George Anson (Christopher Adamson), the Commander-in-Chief, India, to abandon using the cartridges. The mutineers, meanwhile, meet with Tatya Tope (Deepraj Rana) and his messenger Azimullah (Shahbaz Khan) and they all agree to unite under the leadership of the elderly Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar (Habib Tanvir) and rise in rebellion. Anson decides to send the Queen's Regiment from Rangoon to intercept and subdue the rebels; it is scheduled to arrive in Berhampore on 1 April. Heera informs Pandey of this plan, having spent the previous night with Hewson. The rebels revise their timetable to march on 30 March, but the wife of one of the rebels, angry at her husband after an argument in which he tells her of the impending revolt, informs her British employer woman of the plans. As the employer woman is having an affair with Hewson at the time, he overhears the conversation and later tortures the rebel into revealing the date of the march.

On 29 March, the mutineers are informed of the Rangoon Regiment's arrival. Pandey attempts to rally them into fending off the attack, and when the officers, including Gordon, inquire as to what they are doing, the rebels turn on them. With the regiment's arrival, the mutineers want to throw down their weapons; Pandey, however, fires at the opposing forces, killing two and injuring four, then attempts to shoot himself when the regiment surrounds him. Captured alive, he is court-martialed, and Gordon testifies on his behalf, passionately defending his actions and warning of bloody rebellion if he is hanged. Despite Gordon's warning, the court-martial imposes a death sentence on Pandey. The night before Pandey's execution, Heera visits him in his jail cell and has him place sindoor on her forehead, marking their marriage.

The next day (on 8 April), in front of Gordon, the British officers, his fellow sepoys, and the townspeople, Pandey is hanged. Inspired by his execution, the spectators break out in revolt. The film ends with drawings of the Indian Rebellion of 1857, and footage of the later Indian independence movement.


The film marked the comeback of actor Aamir Khan who went into a hiatus after Dil Chahta Hai which was released in 2001.
Actor/Actress Role
Aamir Khan Mangal Pandey
Toby Stephens Captain William Gordon
Rani Mukerji Heera
Ameesha Patel Jwala
Coral Beed Emily Kent
Kirron Kher Lal Bibi
Om Puri Narrator
Ben Nealon Captain Hewson
Habib Tanveer Bahadur Shah Zafar
Varsha Usgaonkar Rani Laxmibai
Shrirang Godbole Nana Saheb
Kenneth Cranham Mr. Kent
Tom Alter Watson
Mukesh Tiwari Bakht Khan
Shahbaz Khan Azimullah Khan
Deepraj Rana Tatya Tope
Sanjay Sharma Shivram
Amin Hajee Vir Singh
Sohrab Ardeshir Sohrabjee, Parsi trader
Steven Rimkus Colonel William Mitchell
Sanjay Swaraj Jemadar Ishwari Prasad (hanged 21 April 1857)
Murli Sharma Shaikh Paltu
Lalit Mohan Tiwari Dawar Ali
Anupam Shyam
Simon Chandler Officer Lockwood
Christopher Adamson General Anson
Disha Vakani Yasmin
Subrat Dutta Parmanand Jha
Amit Waghere Supporting Actor
Mona Ambegaonkar Kamla Singh, wife of Vir Singh
Sulabha Arya Old woman, mother of Vir Singh
Ian Jackson Extra
Dibyendu Bhattacharya Kripashankar Singh
Chirag Vohra Bhujavan Shukla
Sophiya Haque Special appearance in "Rasiya" song
Ravi Jhankal Sufi Singer Singing song of Al Madad Maula
Kailash Kher Sufi Singer Singing song of Al Madad Maula
Vivek Mishra cameo


Box office[edit]

Mangal Pandey: The Rising, had a great start at the box office but was declared average by Box Office India. It grossed 1,145.0 million (US$14 million) at the Indian box office and 1,852.58 million (US$23 million) worldwide.[7][2]

The film topped the Chennai box office on its opening weekend.

Critical reception[edit]

Upon release, Mangal Pandey received positive reviews. It received a 91% rating from noted critics and was rated "fresh" at Rotten Tomatoes.[8] Film critic Taran Adarsh of IndiaFM gave four stars out of five saying it is "A genuine attempt at bringing alive a great hero on celluloid, the film will only bring pride and prestige in the domestic market as well as on the international platform."[9]

Raja Sen of Rediff panned the film as being about "cleavage and cliche".[10]

Derek Elley of Variety commented, "This is the classic structure of all the best historical epics, and though the film employs recognizable Bollywood trademarks, helmer [director] Mehta's approach is more "Western" in its rhythms, pacing and avoidance of Asian melodrama. Musical set pieces are more integrated into the action, and the focus is kept tightly on the Gordon-Pandey relationship."[11]

Film scholar Omer Mozaffar of commented that this film is a study in imperialism and sensitivity, comparing the issue of the rifle grease to the 1992 Los Angeles riots and the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy. The inciting event that leads to the Rising could have been avoided or quickly rectified. However, in the context of the situation, it was a larger issue of unrest due to negligent power brokers.[12]


In India, the Bhartiya Janata Party demanded a ban on the film, accusing it of showing falsehood and indulging in character assassination of Mangal Pandey. As an example, the BJP spokesman stated that the film shows Mangal Pandey visiting the house of a prostitute.[13] The Samajwadi Party leader Uday Pratap Singh called in the Rajya Sabha for the movie to be banned for its "inaccurate portrayal" of Pandey.[14] The Uttar Pradesh government criticised the film for "distortion" of historical facts, and considered banning it.[15] Protestors in Ballia district, where Pandey had been a native, damaged a shop selling cassettes and CDs of the film, stalled a goods train on its way to Chapra (Bihar), and staged a sit-in on the Ballia-Barriya highway.[15]

A recently (2014) published analysis of the opening stages of the Great Indian Rebellion is critical of the lack of historical evidence supporting the events of 1857, as portrayed in Mangal Pandey: The Rising.[16]


51st Filmfare Awards:



Mangal Pandey: The Rising
Soundtrack album by
Released15 July 2005 (India)
StudioPanchathan Record Inn and AM Studios
GenreFeature film soundtrack
ProducerBobby Bedi
A. R. Rahman chronology
Mangal Pandey: The Rising
Anbe Aaruyire

The music was scored by A. R. Rahman with lyrics penned by Javed Akhtar.

1."Mangal Mangal"Kailash Kher2:31
2."Mangal Mangal – Agni"Kailash Kher2:55
3."Al Madad Maula"A. R. Rahman, Kailash Kher, Murtuza Khan, Kadhir5:58
4."Holi Re"Aamir Khan, Udit Narayan, Madhushree, Srinivas, Chinmayee4:53
5."Takey Takey"Sukhwinder Singh, Kailash Kher, Kartick Das Baul4:35
6."Rasiya"Richa Sharma, Bonnie Chakraborty5:57
7."Main Vari Vari"Kavita Krishnamurthy, Reena Bhardwaj4:54
8."Mangal Mangal – Aatma"Kailash Kher, Sukhwinder Singh4:19

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Mangal Pandey: The Rising". IMDb. 12 August 2005. Retrieved 29 November 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Mangal Pandey - The Rising - Movie". Box Office India. Retrieved 29 November 2021.
  3. ^ "Entertainment / Cinema : Indian films a 'nonentity' at Cannes". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 19 May 2005. Archived from the original on 10 January 2016.
  4. ^ "The Hindu : Entertainment Bangalore / Cinema : Cannes premier for Naina". Archived from the original on 4 February 2010.
  5. ^ "Mangal Pandey - The Rising". Box Office India. Retrieved 29 November 2021.
  6. ^ W. and R. Chambers (1891). Chambers's Encyclopaedia: A Dictionary of Universal Knowledge for the People. Vol. 8. p. 719.
  7. ^ "". 21 October 2013. Archived from the original on 21 October 2013. Retrieved 29 November 2021.
  8. ^ "Mangal Pandey – The Rising (2005) Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. 12 August 2005. Retrieved 3 January 2012.
  9. ^ "Mangal Pandey – The Rising (2005) | Movie Review, Trailers, Music Videos, Songs, Wallpapers". Bollywood Hungama. 12 August 2005. Retrieved 1 March 2012.
  10. ^ Sen, Raja (26 August 2005). "Mangal Pandey: Just cleavage and cliche". Retrieved 14 May 2016.
  11. ^ Elley, Derek (4 August 2005). "The Rising: Ballad of Mangal Pandey Movie Review". Variety.
  12. ^ "We are all Untouchables: A Bollywood Ballad:Discussed by Omer Mozaffar". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on 16 February 2010.
  13. ^ "BJP demands ban on Mangal Pandey". The Indian Express. 11 August 2005. Retrieved 29 November 2007.
  14. ^ "Rajya Sabha Parliamentary Bulletin, Part I, 205th session, Special Mentions (2-02 p.m.)". Government of India. 18 August 2005. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 29 November 2007.
  15. ^ a b "UP govt to consider ban on 'Mangal Pandey'". The Indian Express. 11 August 2005. Retrieved 29 November 2007.
  16. ^ Wagner, Kim A. (2014). The Great Fear of 1857. Rumours, Conspiracies and the Making of the Indian Uprising. p. 245. ISBN 978-93-81406-34-2.

External links[edit]