By Suruchi Das
Amazon Prime Video’s new release Shershaah is about the life of one of the most decorated Army Officers of India, Captain Vikram Batra, who was awarded the Param Vir Chakra, the highest gallantry award in India, posthumously for his utter bravery and resilience in attaining victory in the Kargil War, 1999.
Shershaah is based on a real-life hero whose tales are full of memories that reflect a larger-than-life perspective. The man was a born leader, and from a very tender age was eager to join the Armed forces. Loved by his friends, family, and colleagues, known for being jovial, caring, and cheerful, Captain Batra was already an awe-inspiring persona. Which in turn gave the film a wholesome structure to work with, it had a strong standing even before coming on the screens.
Director Vishnu Varadhan and writer Sandeep Srivastava have designed a war film that is a respectful representation of past glory that has its cost. Sidharth Malhotra is promising, he was able to portray Captain Batra’s charismatic, filmy, larger-than-life, and innocent personality with honesty.
Shershah begins with the premise of a ‘Ted-talk’ where Vikram Batra’s twin brother Vishal Batra, who is also portrayed by Sidharth Malhotra in the film, is narrating the story of his brother’s life, the film then transcends into Captain Batra’s childhood where both Vikram and Vishal used to watch the DD national show Param Veer Chakra, which was the first inspiration to the young mind to become a soldier.
The writing of the film is in a non-linear pattern, a throwback into a throwback makes the screenplay jarring at some instances, but the technicalities of action and continuity have been maintained well. The war sequences are meticulously captured, by cinematographer Kamaljeet Negi with real locations that include rigid landforms and tough terrains. However, the action sequences are very similar to the conventional war films from the past.
Other major characters, who too were inspired by real-life, like Lt Sanjeev Jamval played by Shiv Pandit, Captain Batra’s girlfriend Dimple Cheema played by Kiara Advani, Shataf Figar as Col Y K Joshi, and Raj Arjun as Subedar Raghunath Singh are also depicted with effortlessness.
The Kargil war between India and Pakistan of 1999, a time in Indian history familiar to many. Shershaah gives authentic documentation of that past, keeping in mind all the minute details but the film is lacking the raw courage of its hero. The film treads carefully trying not to poke any bellies, and in doing so is marring the real essence of the subject it deals with. The sorrow the film brings on with its inevitable climax does choke you into tears because what is shown is not fiction. It is real, it is the truth.
A bright, gifted young man of just 24 years of age, who had a happy family, had friends, and love, gave his life for the motherland, a national hero with utmost courage and bravery. The dilemma is that he is neither the first nor the last.
Good war films will not celebrate violence and blood bath, neither does Shershaah and though it did at instances painted the other side as the black sheep, it has avoided forging war as the solution based on patriotism.
As audiences, there could be various aspects of the film which could be taken back. The most thought-provoking part is the thought process itself, that where does it end and if it does not, then what is the point of it at all.