In the last half an hour of the movie Kesari, there is a great amount of violence and bloodshed. Akshay Kumar who is great in doing physical stunts makes that gory “one man against hundreds” fight look cinematically appealing. But that’s only the last half an hour of this movie. This is a two and a half hour long film and in the remaining two hours of this movie directed by Anurag Singh things are falling flat and Kesari fails miserably in creating any emotional impact.

Havildar Ishar Singh, our hero is given a punishment transfer to a fort in Saragarhi when he disobeys his senior officer by saving a Muslim lady from getting killed. The invaders from Afghanistan at one point decide to attack the British Empire and their plan was to take down the three forts of British India. Saragarhi was the weakest among the three in terms of manpower and the movie shows the resistance shown by the 21 Sikh military officers in that particular attack.

If you check online, there are details about the events that happened during the day time of that particular attack. But this is Bollywood and you need masala to spice it up. But Anurag Singh’s creative visualization is extremely boring. He and Girish Kohli are almost trying to replicate a JP Dutta formula which is pretty much an outdated one. We all can sense what will happen to each soldier. Every soldier is attached to something. One guy doesn’t laugh, one guy has a letter with him, and one had to leave for duty after his marriage without even spending a night with his wife; no, this is not Border 2. Because the movie is set in the pre-independence era, the makers are sort of confused whether to root for nationalism or to root for the Sikh values. To give an example of the lameness in imagination, there is a scene where hundreds of Afghani soldiers are using their drums to make noise and declare the attack to the strangled Sikh soldiers. And guess what? In response, Akshay Kumar comes out with a Dholak and he single-handedly wins this jugalbandi.

Subtlety is not a quality Kesari can boast about. Nationalism and Sikhism are getting glorified in every minute and they are creating loud moments one after the other to say all those bumper sticker dialogues. When the soldiers say “we won’t help in building mosques” we as an audience are sure that they will do it in a later stage and the movie does exactly that in a cheesier way.  The problem with Kesari is that it takes an awfully long time to get into the zone where it starts to address the facts. And when the war begins then also there are so many things that just look way too outdated. What was perhaps exciting was the action choreography which at least looked charismatic especially with the way Akshay Kumar was jumping with his gun and sword. The dramatization is done in an exaggerated manner. The motivational speeches are template stuff and it is really tough to get inspired seeing those scenes. The production design and the visual effects weren’t that great in terms of having that perfection. The editor Manish More almost forgot that Akshay Kumar was the hero of the film in some areas of the second half.

Akshay Kumar has admitted that he is someone who just goes to the set and acts spontaneously. Well, the performance here is pretty much proof for that. There is ample for him here in terms of action and the acting part is very much on the typical Akshay Kumar zone. Parineeti Chopra is doing an extended cameo here and in my opinion, her role was the half an hour reminder of the movie. At every half an hour, Parineeti will pop up as this imaginary character to depict the 80’s style drama. The actors who performed the role of the 20 Sikhs in the film have delivered earnest performances as those emotionally eccentric Sardars.

Kesari is a weak film in terms of scripting and making. The Saragarhi Battle gets depicted in the cheesiest of way one can imagine. This is a movie that should have been Bollywood’s 300. But barring an amazingly fit Akshay Kumar at the center, there isn’t anything here that could make it a 300.

Rating: 2/5

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Final Thoughts

This is a movie that should have been Bollywood’s 300. But barring an amazingly fit Akshay Kumar at the center, there isn’t anything here that could make it a 300.


Green: Recommended Content

Orange: The In-Between Ones

Red: Not Recommended


By Aswin Bharadwaj

Founder and editor of Lensmen Reviews.