Shershah which is streaming on Amazon Prime, is the real life story of one of our Kargil heroes – Capt. Vikram Batra. His story of valour is now part of popular folklore in India having seen the same almost every year on the Kargil Anniversary. Kargil war was the 1st televised war for India and Capt. Batra’s famous “Dil Maange More” line on camera has been immortalised in our minds. So, the interest was actually to see how the story has been re-told on the big screen.
For a story line which is all familiar to many, the crux of the film boils down to the making. There have been Bollywood war films in the past on the Kargil war and other wars which usually follow a set template – Of heightened jingoism, amateurish war scene re-creation and a high dose of emotion around the soldiers’ connect with the family in the midst of the war. In Shershah, Director Vishnuvardhan and screen play writer Sandeep Srivastava stay away from this trope, well almost. They shun the Akshay/Devgn/Sunny Deol type loud, mass dialogues and keep the conversations between the soldiers quite real and human.
I would say that real hero of the film is Kamaljeet Negi, the Director of Photography. The war scenes have been filmed brilliantly and look very real. So much so, when a grenade blows up, you feel the tremor while watching. Kudos to the Director and the action choreographer as well for staging these scenes excellently under the constraints of outdoor locations. While we know the story, visually we don’t know what exactly happened during the Kargil war and how Vikram Batra lost his life. With making of a very high order, this film brings the portions of the war right in front of our eyes. We get to see the army’s famed meritocracy bit when Vikram is promoted out of turn in the midst of the war for his daring accomplishments.
As Capt. Vikram Batra, Siddharth Malhotra is earnest in his portrayal. He brings in the transition from a happy go lucky college student to a group leader at the war front quite well. Watch the way he salutes his seniors when he lands up for the 1st posting. Notwithstanding some inconsistencies in his Punjabi accent, he has done a good job. Kiara Advani who plays his love interest is a surprise. Apart from looking pretty, she plays the plucky Sardarini role to perfection and this could be a beginning for a new phase in her career. The supporting cast all do their jobs ably.
For Director Vishnuvardhan who has been active in Tamil films, this is a huge leap into Bollywood and he gives a good account of himself by handling such a mega budget project pretty capably. Shershah has the right mix of action at the war front and off battle field emotional drama and so keeps you engaged. The songs though sounding repetitive of the familiar Punjabi tracks gel well with the screen play and on screen come off well. Overall, Shershah is a well-made tribute to Capt. Vikram Batra and one that is a clear must watch!