Indian history is filled to the brim with stories of heroism and bravery. Our soldiers are well known and well respected for their unshakable “Josh” when it comes to patriotism. These stories deserve to be told with realism as gruesome as they had actually happened. But who are we kidding? It’s Bollywood! And true stories of gallantry and uncompromising courage are often told as a musical. KESARI is no exception and brings nothing new to the table when it comes to storytelling. Here are our views on this week’s release.
The year is 1897. The North West Frontier Province of British India (Now Pakistan) is under attack by 10 to 14 thousand Afghan Tribesmen. Their goal is to capture all the three forts in the province, Saragarhi, Gulistan, and Lockhart, by evening. All that stands in their way is a “small” infantry of 21 soldiers of the 36th Sikh Battalion led by Havildar Ishar Singh (Akshay Kumar) guarding the fort of Saragarhi. What follows is a melodramatic rendering of the incident and a cliche display of characters. Nothing much happens in the film except a sluggish elaboration of the events.
The valour and fearlessness of our soldiers are undoubted. But the film’s emotional treatment to the story is worth raising an eyebrow. We can’t blame director Anurag Singh for that, however. This is the exact portrayal of our soldiers we’ve been witnessing since the dawn of Indian Cinema. We can’t afford to show our soldiers panicking and being shell shocked, unlike SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. Indian audience surely has a problem accepting the fact that the men fighting for our security are humans after all and feel all human emotions including fear.
We need to see them dancing and singing and going to their “Maut” smiling. we’ve asked for it. Also, women have nothing to do with war. Hence, the lack of female characters in war films is also ok with us. The film concurs this idea hence female characters only appear when convenient.Anurag Singh had already raised the stakes high for himself with PUNJAB 1984. But his current film’s stretchy screenplay does not leave much scope for the director. The screenplay displays a black and white depiction of characters. From the first scene itself, we know who the bad guys are and whose courage and sacrifice are we celebrating.
We are never shown the intentions of the Afghans to invade a part of India, which is controlled by the British mind you, and we are not aware of the motivations behind their decision. Rakesh Chaturvedi Om’s Saidullah is by far the dullest villain of all time. He rarely grabs your attention when on screen and is not at all intimidating.
The dialogues are unnecessarily emotional and are soaked in the nationalism that is so rampant nowadays. On the flipside, One of the Things worth praising in the film is the costume designs, which is precise with reference to the period of the film. Another sigh of relief is the cinematography which has shown the never-ending, vast landscapes of the particular geography beautifully. The wide angle shots showcasing the behemoth of an army of Afghans ready to attack the fort leaves no doubt to the Audience That the odds are undisputedly against the Sardars.
Akshay Kumar’s portrayal of the gallant Havildar carries the film literally on its shoulders. In spite of having an ensemble cast, Kumar had to do most of the heavy lifting by himself, be it Delivering speeches to embolden his Battalion or making all the important strategic decisions of the battle. This is one of Akshay Kumar’s best performances in recent years. The action sequences are worth praising as well. The hand to hand combat scenes deliver the edge of the seat excitement to any action movie fan.
The final scene of breach of the fort and Ishar Singh being surrounded by the tribesmen brings a sense of suffocation to the audience as we feel ourselves alongside Ishar Singh getting crushed by the overwhelming number of enemies.
Here we are with 2 and a half out of 5 stars for KESARI, including an extra half for the action scenes. Don’t expect anything out of the ordinary from this film. Give it a watch if you’re an Akshay Kumar fan.
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