Shershaah movie cast: Sidharth Malhotra, Kiara Advani, Shiv Panditt, Sahil Vaid, Nikitin Dheer
Shershaah movie director: Vishnu Vardhan
Shershaah movie rating: 2 stars
Going by the real-life story of Captain Vikram Batra whose extraordinary courage in the face of certain death made him one of the shining stars of the Kargil conflict, his biopic should have been all this, and more. Sadly, ‘Shershaah’ has neither the necessary drama inherent in a cracking war film, nor does it raise patriotic goosebumps.
It begins with a battle, which we gather soon enough is to capture one of the crucial bunkers high up on a border peak, which has been taken by Pakistani forces. Bullets are flying, soldiers are pointing and shooting and dodging enemy fire, grenades are being lobbed, flesh is being rent. By rights, we should have had our hearts in our mouths, but the adrenalin doesn’t pump enough.
This pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the film, a flashback, showing us Vikram (Sidharth Malhotra) as a feisty boy, already clear about his intention to join the ‘fauj’. Everything after is by the numbers: first posting (our man feels it necessary to declare it out loud, when it’s amply clear he has just arrived on the base), encounters with terrorists in Jammu & Kashmir where he first starts to earn plaudits, pining for his lady love (Kiara Advani), the declaration of ‘war’, and the final summit.
It’s isn’t as if Bollywood is a dab hand at war movies. Bunging in lashes of jingoism and chest-thumping and loud battle-cries has been considered enough in most instances: on that score, ‘Shershaah’ displays restraint, even if there’s a line somewhere which has been translated (in the subtitles) as ‘castrated goat’, which is flung at an enemy soldier.
There is a patent sincerity about the enterprise, even though it’s quite clear that ‘Shershaah’ is also jumping on the let’s-be-nationalistic bandwagon. What’s also nice is the home scenes involving Vikram and his nice middle-class Palampur family (he calls himself, helpfully, a ‘Palampur ka launda’ twice, just in case we missed it) but you cannot help noticing just how staid everything is, even the romance with pretty Chandigarh ‘sikhni’ Dimple.
How do you exchange full sentences when there’s a war going on? I didn’t feel the urgency, the sense of imminent danger, nor impending doom. Yes, you do hear the actual slogans. Vikram Batra, played staidly by Sidharth Malhotra, tells his commanding officer he has won the first round with the code word, ‘yeh dil maange more’. It was in the second, climatic attack where he managed to kill a bunch of Pakistani soldiers single-handedly, save a compatriot’s life, and destroy a machine gun nest.
This tale needed to soar, and Shershaah needed to roar. Yes, my dil wanted more.