wogma rating: Add to “To Watch” list, watch some day (?)
A movie that glamourises war while celebrating bravery and valour. Fortunately focuses on fervour more than jingoism. It isn’t even pretending to be detailed, so you can guess what you don’t know. (Available on Amazon Prime Video)Read more
When the film starts as a presentation of Captain Vikram Batra’s story, with slides no less, I wondered if it would be easy fodder for reviewers. “A never-ending series of bullet points.” “A newer template would have worked better.” and so on. Thankfully, Shershaah is better than that. But that’s not saying much, is it?
You'd think a movie with bombs blasting the serene Himalayas would introspect over the meaning of war itself. But that’s not meant to be.
The movie has loads of clichéd lines, situations, and characterisations. It uses silly tropes like introducing a new lieutenant to his battalion, officer-by-officer, even his seniors. Clearly, this is to tell us, the audience, who these characters are. The same goes for the situation and dynamics of the region he is posted in. They are told to us, more than shown to us.
Then you have characters whose backstory, we know, is being told to us only because they will die. The non-linearity in the first half is gimmicky too. Captain Batra’s childhood and love story is revealed to us through the presentation and love letters being exchanged between him and his girlfriend—going back and forth in time. One other annoying trope that Shershaah uses is to repeat scenes to remind the audience of what they had seen just an hour ago, if not a few minutes back.
Yet, the film carries an overall charm. The jingoism is conspicuous by its absence. It is a pleasant surprise and certainly makes the film more palatable. But, the interest the film holds is owing to Siddharth Malhotra and Kiara Advani’s performances.
Captain Vikram Batra is depicted as an over-zealous person. A person who won’t back out of a fight because it might seem daunting to the world around him—whether it is getting a ball back from a bully or climbing a Himalayan peak to claim the land back for his country. This eagerness is made very human by Siddharth Malhotra. He is sincere and cute. So, when he is pushing the envelope all the time, it seems adorable rather than absurd.
Similarly, Dimple, Captain Batra’s girlfriend/fiance, is made relatable by Kiara Advani. It’s not like she is required to do anything exceptional, but she brings energy to whatever material she has been given.
Other than Siddharth Malhotra and Kiara Advani, the 90s feel that Shershaah carries about it and the splendour of the Himalayas kept me interested in the film. I am yearning to be in the Himalayas so bad that the cinematography was enough for me to not miss a single frame.
The missing jingoism is conspicuous by its absence.
Also, not one to be charmed by nostalgia easily, the striped collared full-sleeved t-shirts did make my heart warm with a reminder of my college days. And of course, the love story itself coincides with 1995’s Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, Malhotra resembling Shah Rukh Khan a bit too much. All in a good way.
Thematically, the film tries to position itself at the centre of the triangle made by the military, the citizens, and the militants. But it is clearly, being drawn to one of the corners. Also, this is only in the first half. By the second half, Shershaah is a full-fledged Hindi war film—one that romanticises war.
Some of the chatter sounds like strategy. But, there isn’t enough detail for you to engage more than superficially. A film glamourising the bravery of soldiers shows us that in the middle of a strategic move, two teams have casual banter and give away their code names and location!
One instance of casual objectification had my jaw drop! Imagine this, in the middle of a cross-fire, a Pakistani soldier jokingly asks for a famous Indian woman in exchange for land. And the Indian soldier goes on to say she is busy. Like it would be okay to jokingly give her away was she not busy. Yes, eyes roll at the locker room talk between a soldier and his enemy. Men will be men? Yuck. Especially when it is so out-of-sync with the rest of the film.
You would think a movie with bombs blasting the serene Himalayas would introspect over the meaning of war itself. But that’s not meant to be—for the film has little room left after wanting to claim the mammoth mountains without once gasping for oxygen. War, here is more like a competitive sport.
Then again, we live in times when winning in sports is given the semblance of having won a war. This explains why a soldier making ridiculously dangerous choices as a good human is claimed as gallantry. It would be a different film, though, one in which our soldiers were being put on pedestals for being good human beings that they are/were.
- meeta, a part of the audience
Thumbs up, by Subhash K Jha, Bolly Spice : ...Shershaah replays the events leading up to Vikram’s death during the 1999 Kargil war with a brusque efficiency. It doesn’t take the war genre forward. That isn’t what this project set out to do. It aspired to bring alive a true hero’s saga, and it does that successfully. Full marks to Amazon Prime and Karan Johar for giving future generations a glimpse into a life that was short but oh so significant. Anand Saigal would have approved.... full review
Thumbs up, by Devesh Sharma, Filmfare : ...Shershaah is unlike anything Dharma Productions has ever made. It is a film made to be enjoyed on the big screen. It has blockbuster written all over it and it’s box-office success would have convinced Dharma to experiment more in terms of genres. Hopefully, they would still do that. One feels for Sidharth Malhotra in particular in the sense that his best work so far couldn’t have a theatrical release. Captain Batra was an example to us all and kudos to the makers for doing wholesome justice to his extraordinary life.... full review
Thumbs up, by Ananya Bhattacharyal, india today : ...The combat scenes look real. There's not much of the lush Kashmir captured in cinematographer Kamaljeet Negi's camera as much as the inhabitable mountain-tops. That terrifying terrain comes alive in Shershaah. The loose rocks, the cliffs, the bunkers, everything feels real. At 2 hours and 15 minutes, Shershaah is a slick film that belongs on the big screen. The only regret then is the wistfulness of missing it in a theatre.... full review
Thumbs up, by R.M. VIJAYAKAR, India West : ...A story that needed to be told, a (real-life) hero who needed to be known far and wide: “Shershaah” succeeds in presenting both in a superlative way.... full review
Thumbs up, by Umesh Punwani, koimoi : ...All said and done, people after watching this are going to ask Sidharth Malhotra, “Yeh Dil maange more!” But this reminds me of another Pepsi slogan, “Mera number kab aayega?” because this is a Sidharth show all the way. Yet another week, yet another film that could have set the box office on fire... full review
Thumbs up, by Mayank Shekhar, MiD DAY : ...This is unlike India's most commercially successful ‘war film' yet, Uri (2019), about a covert, 2016 military operation that Indians still have no clue about, and so the filmmakers could easily pull off a fantasy recreation with the Indo-Pak border placed in Siberia! Shershaah feels way more real. Earthy, even. That's probably why hurts more, I guess.... full review
Thumbs up, by Sushmita Sen, NewsBytes : ...This war movie not only showcases the story of Batra but also highlights other war heroes. Although the script could have been much better, the attempt to make such a film deserves applause.... full review
Thumbs up, by JOGINDER TUTEJA, Planet Bollywood : ...Perhaps that was not the idea either for Sidharth, which is to make an epic of gigantic proportion. Perhaps all he wanted was the story of Captain Vikram Batra to be brought to the audiences, so that they can pay their respect to the man who laid down his life for the country.... full review
Thumbs up, by Ronak Kotecha, Times of India : ...The source material of this film is so strong that it is bound to grip you once the men in uniform take it upon themselves to drive out the enemy and reclaim our land. ‘Shershaah’s biggest victory is its effort to recreate one of the most important chapters of our recent history with characters, who lead the way to a rousing climax....
Thumbs up, by Rohit Vats, Zee News : ...All the heated exchanges during the war and some jibes across the border contribute in their own ways to the whole patriotic flavor of the film. Shershaah never boats of bringing out complex truths of war or the intra-personal conflicts of the 25-year-old Army Captain. Probably this is what works in the film’s favour.... full review
So-So, by Russel D'Silva, Bollywood Life : ...Sidharth Malhotra displays marked improvement, Kiara Advani again proves her versatility, jingoism is thankfully absent and when Shershaah isn't focuses on Captain Vikram Batra's college romance or family squabbles, it does make for a pretty engaging watch. That being said, there are too many distractions from the actual bravado and the important battle scenes, too, lack the fire and brimstone of a Lakshya or Uri. I'm going with 2.5 out of 5 stars.... full review
So-So, by Roktim Rajpal, Deccan Herald : ...That said, Shershaah is not a flawless attempt at storytelling by any stretch of the imagination. The romantic track does not work as it feels rushed. The reel chemistry between 'Sid' and Kiara Advani lacks the organic intensity needed to make an imp...... full review
So-So, by Anupama Chopra, Film Companion : ...Ultimately, Shershaah plays it too safe. The film doesn’t have the daring of its subject. But Vikram Batra’s story is so stirring that it rises above this. When Shershaah ends with footage of the real Vikram laughing and talking about battle, you inevitably get goose flesh.... full review
So-So, by Vineeta Kumar, india.com : ...It’s hard to feel satisfied with any story about Captain Vikram Batra rolling on the screen. Probably because some stories are only lived, not recreated. Shershaah tries to give to the audience the ‘man’ behind that ‘captain’ and it doesn’t fail at that. What he did and how he did it – is what the country knows and truly respects but the movie shows more about what we never knew. There lies the celebration… of Captain Vikram Batra’s whole life, not just the soldier in him!... full review
So-So, by Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV : ...Shershaah Review: Sidharth Malhotra Has What It Takes But A War Hero Deserves A More Energetic Film Shershaah Review: A still from the trailer featuring Sidharth Malhotra. (Image courtesy: YouTube ) 30 Cast: Sidharth Malhotra, Kiara Advani, Sahid Vaid and Shiv Pandit Director: Vishnu Varadhan Rating: 2.5 stars (out of 5) The first thing that springs to mind as Shershaah unfolds is this: a war hero deserved a far more engaging and energetic film. It is a suitably solemn, restrained account of the brief life and career of a 25-year-old Army Captain who died fighting in the 1999 Kargil war, but it takes inordinately long to get anywhere near full throttle. Given the tone and treatment that Shershaah opts for, Captain Vikram Batra's exploits as an officer and a gentleman add up to a narrative that resorts more to broad strokes than to delving into the nuances of the titular hero's evolution as the extraordinarily brave man he became. The protagonist's identical twin is the narrator of the story but he, like the rest of the soldier's family, is relegated to the periphery of the plot, a creative decision that prevents Shershaah from becoming an overarching tale that straddles the exceptional courage of the martyr as well as the fortitude of his parents and siblings. The Vishnu Varadhan-directed war film, co-produced by Karan Johar's Dharma Productions and streaming on Amazon Prime Video, strings together pieces of a life carved out of documented details and arranged within a drearily linear structure. Lead actor Sidharth Malhotra has what it takes to flesh out a real-life martyr who has left behind a larger-than-life aura, but the evolution of the character's tough-as-nails personality that lies at the base of his battlefield derring-do is delivered in the form of shallow, trite driblets. Captain Batra, codenamed Shershaah ahead of a key operation during the Kargil war, gave the world the catchline "Yeh dil maange more". The movie about him and his brief life, sadly, does not possess the propulsive power to leave you asking for more. On the face of it, Shershaah, scripted by Sandeep Shrivastava, looks to tap into the tragedy of a life cut short by war, as also into the guts and glory inherent in Captain Batra's supreme sacrifice. It, however, uses unadventurous methods to craft a story that, in large measure, has been in the public domain for two decades and a bit. So, there aren't any startling revelations that Shershaah has in store for the audience. As a boy yet to step into his teen years, Vikram fights off a bully who refuses to return a cricket ball. His father, a schoolteacher in Palampur, Himachal Pradesh, takes his son to task and wonders if he will end up a ruffian. Unperturbed, Vikram pipes up: "Meri cheez mere se koi nahi chheen sakta (Nobody can snatch what belongs to me)." It is a natural progression from there on. The late 1980s television series Param Vir Chakra, especially an episode on Palampur's Major Somnath Sharma, the first recipient of India's highest gallantry award, casts a spell on Vikram. The boy begins to wear battle fatigues to parties and social gatherings to the embarrassment of the rest of his family. But the boy's mind is made up. He lets everyone around him know that he will be a soldier defending the nation's borders one day.... full review
So-So, by ARNAB BANERJEE, Outlook India : ...‘Shershaah’ starts off with a glimpse into Captain Batra’s life, but soon steers itself into the established war zone where it’s action and precious little else. The martyred Captain’s war cry ‘Yeh Dil Maange More’ when he reported the capture of point 5140. Almost immediately after, he volunteered to be a part of the next mission too, to recapture point 4875. A glance at such a gallant army officer’s life is nevertheless, inspiring, and the film is laudable by that yardstick... full review
So-So, by Vaibhavi V Risbood, Pinkvilla : ...Perhaps the issue with the film is that it is walking a tightrope between being a romantic film and a patriotic representation of a war hero. Cinema is a reflection of our society and the sacrifice of Capt. Vikram Batra will definitely make you emotional. But by the end of Shershaah, it does not do complete justice to either of the genres it falls into. Despite the lapses, it’s important that films on the lives of real-life heroes should be made more often for this generation to remember them in the right spirit. Also Read: Shershaah NEW poster: Kiara Advani & Sidharth Malhotra hold hands... full review
So-So, by UDITA JHUNJHUNWALA, Scroll.in : ...The army protocols, camaraderie and selflessness of the soldiers in the face of danger are among the biggest takeaways from Shershaah. The movie benignly outlines Batra’s life and leadership alongside paying homage to the hundreds of lives lost during the Kargil War.... full review
So-So, by Srivatsan S, The Hindu : ...Narrated by Vikram Batra’s twin brother, Vishal Batra (also played by Sidharth Malhotra), Shershaah makes up for its mishaps in the second half by entering the warzone. Twenty-five-year-old Batra’s heroics during the Kargil War are morphed into hair-raising action pieces and we do get a sense of war, though sporadically. It makes you think how marvellous Uri was, despite it being a really well-made work of propaganda. In that sense, Shershaah is not loud, rather, a ‘soft’ film. But for us to participate, it needed more friction.... full review
So-So, by Stutee Ghosh, The Quint : ...Sahil Vaid as Vikram’s childhood friend, Shiv Pandit, Niketan Dheer, Raj Arjun as members of his regiment who are given the most stale treatment. Their presence seems incidental, simply to prop up the hero of the film which robs Shershaah of some of its charm.... full review
Thumbs down, by Rahul Desai, Film Companion : ...It’s a fleeting moment, but it says something about the chest-beating rhetoric of commercial Hindi cinema that even the more level-headed films now treat their politics as more of an external recipe than an internal flavour. After all, going viral is a barometer of success for Facebook posts as well as the tired movies that inspire them.... full review
Thumbs down, by Gautaman Bhaskaran, News18.com : ...In Comparison the recent Gunjan Saxena : The kargil girl was far more plucky and finely performed. As the Father daughter duo, Pankaj Tripathi and Jahnvi Kapoor were superb, and the film exuded novelty in a verity of ways. In the final analysis, Shershaah seems like an ode to movie stay!... full review
Thumbs down, The Guardian : ...For starters, this is the first time Batra has been played by someone who might pass for a model: Sidharth Malhotra, ever handsome, mostly upright, sensing he needn’t flex too hard to emerge looking like a sweetheart. As the film switches between Batra’s personal and professional lives, its star successfully runs the trickiest gauntlet: trying not to look too gawky in the shell suits of college flashbacks. Malhotra and an unusually deglammed Kiara Advani (as Batra’s beloved, Dimple) can’t credibly resemble undergraduates, but they share a fond, tender chemistry. It’s a pity Batra’s service leave keeps being interrupted by rumbles from Kashmir – but that’s where this story’s destiny lies.... full review
Twitter reviews for this movie are not available.
This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.