Shivaay on Shershaah


Perhaps the best thing the viewers would usually do while tuning in to watch Shershaah is to have minimalistic expectation, considering the fact that its a Siddharth Malhotra starrer from a Dharma Production. Even though you know this is a film that celebrates one of India’s bravest war heroes, you cannot really have much expectation from the Siddharth-Karan Jo pair. Or can you? This is where hiring a director like veteran Vishnuvardhan (a relative unknown in Bollywood circles) ends up being a blessing in disguise and a mini masterstroke.

The Positives :

Pardon the film for being more of a hagiography than a biopic, the narrative nevertheless focuses on not just Vikram Batra the war hero but the rest of his regiment and The Indian Army on the whole too. There are obvious moments where the film singularly glorifies Batra and his heroisms yet while you’re in the flow of the narrative, as a viewer you’d always look at the soldiers collectively than just one single man alone.

The narration is brisk, well edited and gritty for the most part apart from a certain flashback sequence of Batra and his love interest that seems forced and out of place in the overall scheme of things (obviously shoved in there for commercial purposes than adding value). Kamaljeet Negi’s cinematography is excellent and while watching the wonderfully shot action and war sequences in 4K resolution, the cinema fan within you would have half wished this released on the big screen. Siddharth is unexpectedly restraint as the protagonist while the rest of the cast play to the gallery well enough. A strong plot and a good enough narrative like this would not require much from the cast in terms of acting chops and they all fit in effectively well (the good looks obviously help!).

The Negatives :

While every character in Captain Batra’s life get their due, his love interest Dimple Cheema has been carelessly written and shabbily handled through the narrative. For a brave soul whose attachment and loyalty knew no bounds, she’s neither given enough weightage nor importance. Even the flashback romantic sequence of good old college days are shot and presented like they’re a 2021 version of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. That apart, the dialogues in the film are a great improvement from the usual eardrum rupturing, fist pumping jingoism associated with most Bollywood war films (right from Border to Bhuj with the technically brilliant Uri included, Lakshya being a major and pleasant exception), they do seem dull and stereotypical at times.

Overall Shershaah might not be a great film of classic proportions, its definitely a good one and one that positively flatters to deceive in more ways than one.

Rating : 3.5/5 (Worth Watching on the biggest screen possible; watching on your smartphone or tablet would be an insult to Captain Batra’s memory himself).

23 Responses to “Shivaay on Shershaah”

  1. Superb review: You have almost mirrored my thought and take. Glad you liked it.

    Regarding Dimple’s role, I feel within the boundaries of the film, it was ‘aptly’ captured. You see, this war films depend on two things — you highlight the ‘main’ attribute of Batra that made him a house-hold name; or you can include ‘personal’ scenes that worked on his psyche. In Eastwood’s Flags of Our Fathers, Ira Hayes restaurant humiliation scene where ‘Red Indians’ wouldn’t be served a drink, inspite of the fact that he man risked his life for a flag, and the country that bears that flag, gives a crap about his sacrifices, forms a crux of the man’s character-development and ultimately adding up to the arc of the movie.

    If one were to go by giving screen-time credits to Dimple, it would expand onto many other tentacles of story-telling: Other characters would crop-in; other incidents, and so on. So it’s a tough job; else, it is a poor job. You either go the whole 9 yards, or you stick to the ‘highlights.’

    It doesn’t have that luxury in SHERSHAAH. Either you make a move a 2-part, all-encompassing movie like BB, or just restrict to hagiography. That is what does the job here; though not excellent, but within the resources, it is something that is truly appreciable…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks An Jo. The Dimple sequence couldn’t be elaborated upon for time constraints for sure but reducing her to a rom com caricature in the first half was something that was uncalled for in my opinion. And her inexplicable absence (lack of invitation?) during Capt Batra’s funeral with her running in right at the Nth moment was once again a stereotypical Karan Johar filmy moment akin to Kajol at her dad’s funeral in Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham! Dimple Cheema the person as well as Kiara Advani the actor deserve much better writing.

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  2. Shershah didn’t work for me as much. It was a jingoistic narrative of Pakistan bashing subtler version of Gadar.

    I don’t think the makers did full justice to the war hero or the Fauj.

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    • On the contrary I felt it was far less jingoistic than most stereotypical Bollywood films. The Madhuri Dixit dialogs were actually used by some loser Pak militants in war zone so they were added more for comic relief.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. @yodha; SHERSHAH was hardly jingoisitic; one needs to see the movie from the eyes of the protagonist; it SHOULD be jingoistic…

    I am truly surprised as to why ‘jingoism’ is such a badly used word…

    https://www.thoughtco.com/jingoism-4691810#:~:text=In%20the%20modern%20world%2C%20the%20term%20jingoism%20is,leading%20to%20an%20aggressive%20or%20bullying%20foreign%20policy.

    When one’s fighting a war, or a cricket match, the single aim is is annihilate the opponent; that is jingoism. Why whine?

    Please do understand, when Sunny refuses to say HINDUSTAN MURDABAD, that is NOT jingoism….You, or I, would have the same emotions running through us when faced with such a situation…

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  4. errata: I cannot forgive this baldy arsehole

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  5. I totally disagree with Z; in terms that movies are built on narrative structures: DUNKIRK is a fine example where he walked himself into a trap – DUNKIRK focuses on the soldiers’ mindset when they are escaping a battle; so it is irresponsible to quote [kindly watch the scene where pamphlets are flying in the air; read the message; and then discuss]

    how do you think a soldier is motivated? Are you telling me that Pakistani soldiers aren’t lectured on GHWAZA-HE-HIND?

    A soldier is leaving behind his parents, his wife, kids…

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    • Dunkirk’s an anti thesis of a war film. Its a one of a kind “survival” drama than an outright war film. There are NO 2 warring parties there. Just 1 side trying to make it home.

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