Director: Vishnu Vardhan
Writer: Sandeep Shrivastava
Cast: Sidharth Malhotra, Kiara Advani, Shiv Pandit
Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video
Shershaah is based on the life of Captain Vikram Batra, an Indian Army officer who was martyred in the 1999 Kargil War and was honored with India’s second highest military award Param Vir Chakra. Captain Batra was only 24 years old when he gave his life for the country. It’s difficult to articulate the sacrifice, we can’t; we can only salute the true heroes of the nation.
That’s why biopics made on these great lives are difficult to criticize. To give the credit where it’s due, director Vishnu Vardhan and his team has done a great job with Shershaah – which was Captain Batra’s code name during the war. The treatment is understated, performances underplayed. The focus is on the person ‘Vikram Batra’ – which is such a good thing to see in a biopic.
Sidharth Malhotra plays Vikram Batra. To be honest I had my reservations about the actor playing the lead. In most of his films, he has looked confused and out of place barring Hasee Toh Phasee (2014) and Kapoor & Sons (2016). He played a so-so army officer in Neeraj Pandey’s Aiyaary (2018). But here in Shershaah he owns the part. He balances the thin line between naivety and bravery well. I’d say if someone is thinking of adapting Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan into Hindi, Malhotra can be a strong contender to play the vulnerable yet tactical and brave agent.
Vikram was determined to join the Indian Army, he knew the girl he wanted to marry, and he knew how to lead his team of army men. He fought bravely to get our land back from the enemy. He did all of this by the age of 24. Most of us didn’t even know what we really wanted to do in our lives when we were 24. Writer Sandeep Shrivastav and director Vishnu Vardhan tell this story smartly. There’s no training montage of Vikram becoming a soldier, there’s no melodrama between family & friends, nor massy dramatization which we are used to seeing in Hindi war dramas. However, JP Dutta’s Border (1997) remains a classic exception to that list.
Vikram Batra and Dimple Cheema’s love story is no short of bravery either. I was totally numb while watching the last few minutes of the film. Kiara Advani gives her everything to give Dimple her own space and dignity. The supporting cast doesn’t get much to play with but do their jobs sincerely. The production design and costume are smartly done to create the world of the 90s. Cinematography and film editing are in the able hands of Kamaljeet Negi and A. Sreekar Prasad respectively.
Shershaah is not your typical Hindi war drama. There’s no adrenaline action sequences forced to keep you at the edge of your seats, there’s no dialoguebaazi in every scene, nor slow-motion shots of war choreography. It is a story of an incredible guy who became an equally courageous Indian Army officer. You should definitely watch it.