Sardar Udham: a stark tale that revives memories of horrific Jallianwala Bagh massacre
Vicky Kaushal in a still from Sardhar Udham

Sardar Udham: a stark tale that revives memories of horrific Jallianwala Bagh massacre

New Delhi, November 10, 2021

As one watches a 20-year-old boy rummaging through a sea of corpses lying in the Jallianwala Bagh on the night of April 13, 1919 desperately looking for any survivors amidst the bodies felled by the bullets of the British troops on that fateful day, the memories of the bloodcurdling Jallianwala Bagh massacre come trooping into one's subconscious.

This scene of the 20-year-old Udham Singh carrying the wounded people -- the elderly, the women and children -- on his shoulders and on his cart to a nearby hospital, in the film Sardar Udham, being streamed on Amazon Prime Video, makes for a horrifying sight.

The scene from the Shoojit Sarcar directed film invariably brings back the horrific memories of April 13, 1919 when a British regiment led by General Dyer opened fire on a gathering of people carrying out a peaceful protest inside the precincts of Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar.

The memories of that night turned the happy-go-lucky Udham Singh into a revolutionary who grew up with the single-minded aim of avenging the excesses of the British troops at Jallianwala Bagh. His resolve took him to London, the capital of Britain and the home to Michael O'Dwyer, the person responsible for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. After a wait for six years, Udham Singh managed to extract his revenge by pumping six bullets into Michael O'Dwyer at a public function in London.

Shoojit Sircar's Sardar Udham is the story of how Udham Singh survived the massacre on the day of Baisakhi which killed around 400 people and injured around 1000 and avenged those who died. It takes us through the poignant and inspirational story of Udham Singh's efforts to avenge the death of innocent people killed in the horrific incident, which continues to be a blot in the history of British imperialism in India.

The film begins with Udham Singh planning his entry into London to fulfil his objective. The story constantly moves into flashback mode, taking us through Udham Singh's meetings with revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh who sowed in him the seeds of revolution. It also takes us through his days as a teenager who is happy to just work in a steel factory and spend time with his girlfriend (Banita Sandhu).

A major portion of the film has been shot in London where Sardar Udham Singh carried out the planning for his act of revenge.

The film has excellent production values. The London of the 1940s comes across as authentic with careful attention to detail. The highlight of the film is, however, the depiction of the incident of firing at Jallianwala Bagh by the British troops and the sight of the sea of bodies lying there.

As Sardar Udham Singh, Vicky Kaushal gives a soul-stirring performance. He puts his heart and soul into the role. Though he does not speak much in the film, he emotes with his eyes, which bring out the searing intensity of the character of Udham Singh.

Another hero of the film is Shoojit Sircar who has managed to bring back the sordid memories of the horrific massacre of Jallianwala Bagh.

My rating; 4/5


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