This is a serious film based on true events

While staying within the conventions of Bollywood films, THE RISING: BALLAD OF MANGAL PANDEY proves to be as colorful a historical epic film as KHARTOUM and some of the adaptations of Kipling, but here the British are the villains and the Indians are the heroes

Historians say The Rising: Ballad of Mangal Pandey, which is the most expensive film ever made in India, is littered with historical inaccuracies.

Mr David is scathing about the film's central claim that the bloody events of 1857 were sparked by the company's insistence that Muslim and Hindu sepoys used bullet casings covered in beef and pork fat. The historian says many sepoys who took part in the uprising wrongly assumed that they were being asked to use casings that contravened their religious beliefs.

The film opens in 1853, when Pandey and his British chum Captain Gordon are fighting the Afghans for some unspecified reason. It's a dramatic scene, but impossible. The first Anglo-Afghan war finished in 1842, Pandey did not join up until 1849, and his regiment – the 34th Bengal Native Infantry – did not see action in Afghanistan.

The action moves to Calcutta in 1857, where the East India Company is determined to introduce its shiny new Enfield rifles. The rifle's cartridges have to have their ends bitten off before they can be used. This turns out to be one of the worst pieces of design in history. They are rumoured to be waterproofed with a mixture of cow and pig fat, making them equally offensive to Hindus, who revere the cow, and Muslims, who are forbidden to eat the pig. These rumours were indeed the spark for the 1857 uprising, though discontent in Pandey's regiment was mostly caused by one British officer's clumsy attempts to convert the sepoys to Christianity.

One of the most pigheaded Brits, Colonel Mitchell, tries to force the sepoys to use the cartridges by aiming cannon at them. Pandey breaks ranks and stands in front of one...

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