An Jo on Shershaah

I must say I didn’t expect but I quite liked the movie! Of course, it is a hagiography. The film is nothing but a pictorial version of news clippings and readings that one has been exposed to. There is no ‘psychological’ depth here when considering the thought behind Vikram Batra the person and the one exposed in media and swallowed and regurgitated by people. However, the film is quite tightly woven and focused when it comes to war scenes. The director and the cinematographer have done a fine job of capturing the nuances of war — what is a burst fire? — and also providing a wide-angled and well as constricted view of the battle-ground; of the Delta team climbing an almost impossibly angled 80 degree incline. There are shots of illumination fire used efficiently; of bayonet-stabbings; of tactics and strategies employed; of covering fire from ground till the teams reach the peak of point 4875; all these are nicely captured. One more word for the cinematography; Kamal Negi fantastically brings out the contrast between nature at its best in the form of snow-capped mountains and man at his ugliest in the form of war. While one marvels at the frame of an expanded, zoomed-out shot, the camera immediately zooms in the ‘reality’ of the moment: Kill to survive, and more importantly, to win.

The film doesn’t leave any stone unturned in portraying Batra dare-deviled, instinctive, impulsive, sometimes even reckless. [I am quite surprised at the scene where he shoots an unarmed Haider point-blank; for a man of Batra’s intelligence, wouldn’t it have served a greater purpose if Haider were to be captured alive and information regarding his bosses were extracted out of him? After all, he’s just a puppet.]

Siddharth Malhotra gives a flat performance, but then, his character is written with pre-meditated broad strokes. There is hardly any nuance as I mentioned before in the way his character is written. [So just one shot of him snatching a cricket ball from a bully in his childhood is enough to establish that he is a ‘dare-devil.’] He has, however, given his best with the written material at hand. Hopefully, someday, he will take acting classes seriously. Kiara Advani is endearing as his girlfriend. [It is very observant of her that when she talks in English, she speaks with a thick, Indian/Punjabi accent; no attempt to ‘sound angrezi’ – if you know what I mean.] Though all the supporting characters are cardboard cut-outs, they do well with the script they have at hand: Noticeable are actors Shataf Figar as Yogesh Joshi, Shiv Panditt as Jamwal, and Raj Arjun as Subedar Raghunath.

And as Saket mentioned, the fact that there’s less chest-thumping by words but more by way of action, the film gains from it in a big way. Consider the scene where Batra gives the mandatory pep-talk before taking off on a path of possibly no-return. He simply ‘states’: “I know that you have already left behind the fear of death; and that’s why you are here in the first place. Secondly, get it grilled in your head that there are Pakistanis occupying our territory. ‘Durge Mata Ki Jai.'” And that does the job! Nicely done. [A better actor would have done a better job, but still impressive.]

All in all, a nice, deserving tribute to our soldiers and a better war movie from the Hindi film industry. Surely recommended.

11 Responses to “An Jo on Shershaah”

  1. sorry Munna, lots of grammatical mistakes…corrected here ..

    **Corrected in main post**

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  2. Well articulated review.

    Vishal said that when he saw Sidharth in the uniform, he was reminded of his brother. “Of course, I had all those emotions running in my body and I could sense that Vikram is standing in front of me,” he said. Later, he also said, “Whenever I now think of Vikram and I see the man in uniform, because I couldn’t see Vikram during the last combat, so the last image now I have is you.”

    https://www.hindustantimes.com/entertainment/bollywood/shershaah-captain-vikram-batra-s-twin-vishal-shares-scene-that-stayed-in-his-mind-calls-sidharth-malhotra-charming-101628954504977.html

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  3. Spoilers
    I have started watching the first half. As Marcus stated, the lovestory is interesting and profound. And in some scenes, Sidharth reminded of Shashi Kapoor. And Kiara reminded me of Hema malini.
    Sidharth is really acting very well and it is a pleasant surprise. Atlast he got his due with this film. He is laid back but he can be fierce when the time demands. How he caught Haider is quite a revelation. They are showing the tough side of the army and also the camaraderie.
    It is worth repeat watching.
    After watching fully once more, I will share my views.
    Kashmir is so beautiful. Like a lovely rose with sharp thorns.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. At the end of it, it is a well made movie and Vishnu Vardhan deserves some appaluse. It is brave to cast someone like Sidharth as a war hero so unlike his romantic image. though there is lots of romance! And it is very well shot capturing the mighty Himalayas in all its splendour.
    I wonder whether there are any war heroes in Pakistan or China and any film is made on them in their respective countries!

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  5. Also, can somebody tell me if the Madhuri Dixit bit is true or just made up stuff. I still can’t believe soldiers literally on death-beds can have that kind of conversation…

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    • I feel it is not true. Vikram or Indian army is not medieval or it has power to exchange a big star to end war. Nor Pakistan would have been happy about this as it is not Khilji lusting for an Indian queen in exchange for territory. It might have been banter between some people of both the countries that must have seeped into the army jawans’ psyche of both the countries. Or a kind of cinematic liberty by the makers to spice up the film.

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