When a movie with an army as the template for the story is released, there is a lot of trepidation with which to view the content. The reservation emanates from the fact that when it is a story associated with the Army, it would have an element of jingoism and an element of Pakistan bashing.
Refreshingly enough, SHERSHAAH has treaded a fine balance and has so far one of the best films dealing with the Kargil war between India and Pakistan. It has avoided pandering to the emotional quotient in a structured manner as the Hindi films have done so far, on the contrary the passion that has been displayed in the film is the passion towards duty and uniform.
Karan Johar as a producer has off-late been delving into interesting stories with one of his prodigies. Sidharth Malhotra, taking on experimentation drives, as he did in KAPOOR & SONS and now Shershaah. Coming after a loud and an overboard film, MARJAAWAN and JABARIYA JODI.
The underplaying of the character of Vikram Batra has added another feather in the cap of Sidharth Malhotra, or rather as it is shown in Shershaah at the battle front Vikram Batra graduates from being a Lieutenant to a Captain, and in the same manner through Shahenshah Sidharth Malhotra has graduated further in his acting career.
This graduation has been facilitated by astute direction by Vishnu Varadhan, a celebrated director of Tamil cinema, who makes his debut in the Hindi film industry with Shershaah. He brings on board the sharp cuts and minimal narrative to make the script tight.
It is after a long time that a film has been shot in Chandigarh, arguably one of the most planned cities in India and for a change the city is shown from the view of a middle class perspective, so we see a love blossoming in Rock Garden in Chandigarh and not in some exotic locale.
But as an ex-Chandigarhite, this writer would aspire that so many amazing gardens that have come up recently, like the Scent Garden, be captured in the films to come. Chandigarh, still has been unexplored so far in Hindi cinema. It is altogether a different film that Punjabi cinema has not left any location through the cinematic exposition.
For those who may not be aware about the social dynamics of Punjab and make a comment about the stratification when a Jat Sikhni is planning to marry a Punjabi Khatri, need to go through the scene again where the father picks up the phone call of Captain Batra and gives it over to his daughter, silently endorsing daughter’s choice. This also is an underlining of the evolution that societies are experiencing.
Does the film obliquely refer to the intelligent failure on account of which Kargil happened, as shown in the film when Lt. Vikram Batra attacks the hideout and the terrorist informs that the Indian army would not know what is going to hit them.
Scores of success stories and talks have been built around the Kargil war, and Shershaah again endorses the quality of leadership. A leader has to lead from the front and grab the opportunities as they unfold, even though he might have had his hands full. This is what leadership is all about.
There are still so many Kargil war related stories to be told. A successful template of war-based stories is a cash cow for Hollywood, maybe the time has come for the Indian filmmakers to dabble more in this genre. Yeh dil ‘does’ mannge more!