Devgan, by contrast, inhabits the shadowlands. Bound by ties of friendship and loyalty to the family, he begins as an unquestioning cohort who gradually discovers the difference between right and wrong. Of course much of this voice-of-conscience business is born out of his love for Suman (Tabu), the city girl who changes him with her sense of moral uprightness. The friends fall apart and Devgan becomes the voice of dissent, which refuses to be silenced by bullets and bayonets.
Power packed portrayals by Bose and Devgan add a gritty edge to the film, even as Tabu's gossamer charms lend a luminescent quality to the drama. A single dance number of hers (Rang de) is enough to set the screen on fire. The sinuous grace with which she articulates the lyricism of that amazing duo - Asha Bhonsle and A R Rahman - becomes a landmark in film choreography.
However, Nihalani's leap from art to mainstream isn't without hiccups. When it comes to script, drama and narration, Nihalani displays characteristic pizzazz. But when it comes to the mainstream business, Nihalani seems to believe that a mere peppering of song and dance is enough to bring in the frontbenchers. Needless to say, the dances stand out like sore thumbs, despite a fiery rendition by new-find Nethra Raghuraman. Also, the fact that Rahman's musical score is sheer magic makes the mismatch more ironical.