Shershah: a grand war epic which fails to stir emotions

Shershah: a grand war epic which fails to stir emotions

New Delhi, August 15, 2021

Shouts of "Durga Mata ki Jai" are heard as soldiers of the J and K Rifles celebrate the capture of Point 4875 on the Kargil heights, marking an end to the Kargil war.

Amid the celebrations, their commander and the architect of the victory over Pakistan, Captain Vikram Batra lies injured by the bullets of the Pakistani soldiers during his efforts to capture the strategic peak from the enemy.

It was a poignant scene meant to bring tears to the eyes of the audience. However the scene in the movie Shershah, streaming on Amazon Prime Video, hardly evokes any emotion, whether it be the ecstasy of the victory over Pakistan or the pain of the death of a braveheart.

Produced by Dharma Productions of Karan Johar, Shershah was heavily promoted as a grand war epic that takes viewers through the journey of Captain Vikram Batra to his becoming an army officer and finally to giving his supreme sacrifice for the nation during the Kargil war.

Shershah, no doubt, impresses you with its grand war scenes, production values and its performances. It, however, fails to stir any emotions, a necessary ingredient of any successful war movie.

Patriotic films in the past like Chetan Anand's Haqeeqat in the 1960s, J P Dutta's Border in the '90s and his LOC Kargil in 2001 have made their mark through their outpouring of patriotic spirit and by evoking emotions of the audience over the horrors of war.

While Siddharth Malhotra puts in a spirited act as Vikram Batra, the absence of any emotional fervor in the screenplay is a major dampener.

Vicky (childhood name of Vikram Batra) is an agressive child who is not afraid of picking up a fight with boys much older than him. His sole ambition from childhood is to join the army. On growing up he falls in love with a Sikh girl 'Dimple(Kiara Advani) during his college years. In order to impress Dimple and her father, who is dead against marrying his daughter in a non-Sikh family, he momentarily even decides to let go of his ambition to join the Army only to later realise that the Army is his real calling.

Joining as a lieutenant of the Jammu and Kashmir rifles in the rugged terrain of the Kashmir Valley, Vikram carries his aggression in the army, often going beyond the brief given to him. His efforts to neutralize a wanted terrorist earn him a promotion to the rank of captain.

During the Kargil war he is assigned the task of commanding a team of soldiers to capture a strategic peak from the control of the enemy. The film is about how he and his team go about the task, which leaves him severely injured by enermy bullets .

Unlike J P Dutta's 2001 film LOC Kargil which mostly dealt with Vikram's exploits during the Kargil war, Vishnu Vardhan, who is making his directorial debut in Hindi films with Shershah, attempts to provide us an insight into Vikram's life and development of his character from childhood to his youth to his initial period in the army.

The director also delves in detail on his romance with Dimple and gives us a peep into Vikram as a person: Infact, the director tries to bring out the human side of Vikram through his interaction with his colleagues in the army and with the local people.

The film boasts of lavish production values with war sequences having been shot well. Unfortunately, however, they fail to arouse within you the patriotic feel on winning a war or a feeling of pain over the loss of a soldier or an officer in the conflict.

Siddharth Malhotra cones up with a superlative act as Vikram Batra whose heart bleeds for his nation and who is ready to go beyond the brief given to him to fulfill the call of the nation. He is refreshing as an Army officer whose heart beats for his colleagues and subordinates. In fact, he gives an effortless performance and it would not be an exaggeration to say that it is his best performance till date.

Kiara Advani is endearing as Dimple the simple girl next door who falls in love with the charming Vikram Batra and is willing to wait her entire life for him.

The film boasts of excellent cinematography with the visuals of Kargil being eye filling.

In short, Shershah is a grand war epic with lavish production values. Unfortunately, however, it fails to stir the patriotic spirit - the ecstasy of triumph over the enemy and the pain of loss of a braveheart, notwithstanding an outstanding performance by Siddharth Malhotra and an endearing act by Kiara Advani.

My rating; 2.5/5


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