The promo materials of Shershaah had a less jingoistic tone to its credit, and at a time when patriotism is getting used as a marketing tool, seeing that trailer kind of offered a bit of relief. But when it comes to the film, this Vikram Batra biopic is more of a template rather than a jingoistic war drama. The age-old clichés of war movies and the big-hearted hero make Shershaah a very usual war movie. What makes the film enjoyable to an extent is the earnest performance of Sidharth Malhotra.
As you may already know, this is the biopic of Captain Vikram Batra, who was a war hero of India during the Kargil war. From a very young age, Vikram wanted to be a soldier, and at the age of 21, he managed to get into the army. His first posting was in Kashmir, and in a very short span of time, he rose to fame. What we see in the movie is the personal life of Vikram Batra and his life as a fierce leader in the field.
An interesting post surfaced on Facebook a few days ago after Neeraj Chopra won the first-ever Athletics Gold for India in the Olympics. It was about how Bollywood would make a biopic on Mr. Chopra, and the post mocked the typical scripting way of biopics that glorifies its central character in the filmiest way. And if you analyze Shershaah, it also has the same pattern. You have a scene where Batra, as a kid, fights with a boy who is ten years older than him for a ball, saying, “I will fight for what belongs to me.” And when he is posted in Kashmir, within a few months, he knows every person in the town and calls them brother, uncle, etc. The real Vikram Batra might have well been a person like that with an incredible aura, but this “on your face” image-building sort of makes the movie look like a desperate glorification rather than an honest depiction.
As I already said, it is Sidharth Malhotra’s performance that stands tall in this movie. Vikram Batra has these two extremes of being this fun-loving filmy person and also this angry soldier who is not afraid to attack the enemy without anyone covering him. And Sidharth, who has always been seen in silent and private characters, manages to add life to that persona. The cheesy romantic bits between him and Kiara Advani works largely because of the way Sidharth carries himself in those scenes. Kiara Advani as Dimple, Vikram’s love interest, was fine in her role. Shiv Pandit as Sanjeev Jamwal and Raj Arjun as Subedar Raghunath are the other notable performances here.
In terms of the technical quality and visual scale, I think Vishnuvardhan has managed to do a good job. One could sense the practical difficulty of those terrains in the battle sequences. In terms of converting the writing into visuals, Shershaah is impressive, but the writing is on the basic side. The perspective is a very linear one that doesn’t amuse you at all. And Sandeep Srivastava cant create any sort of unpredictability in the narrative. When you see a soldier having a personal moment and talking about his family, that’s like a warning for the viewer that he is about to die, and Srivastava has also done the same thing. Kamaljeet Negi’s visuals are very effective in those battle sequences as they captured the gravity of the situation. The visual effects also blended in neatly.
Shershaah is impressive when you look at it as a war documentation film. It shows you some of the events that led to the Kargil war and why India’s victory in that war was a tough one to achieve. But as a biopic of a soldier, Shershaah is unexciting as the storytelling here is very flat. There is a storyline one could make up seeing the trailer and songs of this film, and then when we watch the movie, we are hoping to see a perspective that will give us a better idea about that soldier, which sadly was missing in Shershaah. Our reaction towards the movie could also be “Yeh Dil Maange More.”
Watch Shershaah on Amazon Prime Video
Shershaah is impressive when you look at it as a war documentation film. But as a biopic of a soldier, Shershaah is unexciting as the storytelling here is very flat.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended