Shershaah Movie Review

Rating: 8.9/10

Star Cast: Sidharth Malhotra, Kiara Advani

Director: Vishnu Vardhan

When a senior officer asks Captain Vikram Batra (Sidharth Malhotra) whether he smokes, the latter out of due respect says ‘No Sir’. To this, the farmer tells him, “Respect dena ka yeh matlab nahi hota ki tum kissi se jhoot bolo. Agar tum kissi se jhoot bol rahe ho that means you are disrespecting that person.” Taking a cue from this, let me tell you that Sidharth Malhotra’s latest outing Shershaah based on the Kargil war hero Captain Vikram Batra has its heart in the right place. Sadly, it misses the target because of its lethargic screenplay. American director Sam Fuller had once famously said, “A war film’s objective, no matter how personal or emotional, is to make a viewer feel war.” This is exactly where Shershaah misses the mark.

Story

Shershaah opens up with a crossfire in which Captain Vikram Batra (Sidharth Malhotra) pulls out a grenade from his pocket and throws it at the enemy bunker amid raining gunshots. The film then gives us a glimpse of Vikram’s childhood and how he always aspired to join the army. Through a series of flashbacks, we get to see his budding romance with his college sweetheart, a Sikhni girl Dimple (Kiara Advani). After graduating from the Indian Military Academy, this boy from Palampur is commissioned as a lieutenant into the 13th battalion, Jammu and Kashmir Rifles (13 JAK RIF). He eventually gets promoted to the rank of Captain after displaying his courage and valour in various instances. The rest of the film revolves around how Batra played a pivotal role in India’s victory against Pakistan-backed forces in Kashmir before being killed in an enemy cross-fire while trying to rescue his injured colleague.

Direction

Shershaah marks the Bollywood directorial debut of South filmmaker Vishnu Varadhan who had earlier helmed films like Billa and Aarambam, both starring Tamil superstar Ajith Kumar. Vishnu who has a knack for thrillers is in full form when it comes to the war sequences in Shershaah. One of the plus points of the film is that the makers have maintained authenticity in the narrative. Be it the abuses hurled during intense battle moments, the scene where a Pakistani soldier taunts Batra asking him to handover actress Madhuri Dixit or the Pakistani soldiers learning Vikram’s code name while using the same radio frequency as the Indian men in uniform, writer Sandeep Srivastava has included all these real-life incidents in the film. On the flip side, the foreshadowing of certain characters makes the film formulaic. You know what’s going to happen to them which in turn, kills the curiosity. Another glitch is that the makers refrain from throwing light on Vikram’s equation with his loved ones. Whether it’s his relationship with his parents, siblings or friends, Sandeep offers us mere token scenes because of which we never get to know Batra minus his uniform. A little more detailing on these aspects would have made Shershaah a far more emotionally engaging film.

Performances

So far, the critics haven’t been kind to Sidharth Malhotra when it comes to his acting skills. However, one must say that with Shershaah, he has definitely evolved as an actor even if it’s in bits and pieces. With his commanding screen presence, he catches your attention when he is in uniform or on the battlefield. On the other hand, it’s hard to pass off the 36-years-old actor as a college boy and Sid is seen struggling in those scenes featuring him as a younger Vikram Batra. Kiara Advani’s Punjabi accent appears and disappears as per convenience, just like her role in the film. It looks like the makers have introduced her character in the movie to simply add two songs. The actress barely gets a chance to shine in her limited screen space. The rest of the cast including Shiv Pandit, Nikitin Dheer, Himanshu A Malhotra, Sahil Vaid, Raj Arjun and Anil Charanjeett deliver from what’s offered to them.

Technical Aspects

Kamaljeet Negi’s camera work is equally effective in capturing both, the picturesque valleys and the blood and valour on the battlefield. A Sreekar Prasad’s sharp editing scissors keep things taut.

Music

Jasleen Royal’s soul-stirring voice coupled with Anvita Dutt’s touching lyrics make ‘Ranjha’ stand out in this otherwise forgettable album.

Verdict

In one of the scenes in Shershaah, Vikram tells his colleagues, “Listen, boys, if you are a fauji, then you live by chance, love by choice and kill by profession.” While director Vishnu Varadhan and team execute the last thing in a gripping way, a little more focus on ‘life and love’ would have made Shershaah a fitting tribute to this braveheart whose story of martyrdom will continue to inspire generations to come. We give 2.5 stars out of 5 to Sidharth Malhotra-Kiara Advani’s Shershaah.

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