Vikram Batra was a committed army man. He was also a family man who was madly in love with his college sweetheart Dimple Cheena. These are some of the things conveyed by writer Sandeep Srivastava’s script about the real-life Indian Army captain and Kargil war hero. The rest we already know from internet searches and newspaper reports.
But the most interesting aspect, and the crux of Shershaah, is Batra’s bonding with his colleagues of the 13th Battalion of the Jammu and Kashmir Rifles.
Vishnu Vardhan’s film, which is out on Amazon Prime Video, gets its title from Batra’s codename during the Kargil War of 1999. It was during one of his two crucial missions to regain territory from Pakistan that he lost his life. He was only 25 years old.
Sidharth Malhotra plays both Vikram Batra and his identical twin, Vishal. From a brief glimpse into his childhood, the story fast-forwards to Vikram in college, where he falls in love with Dimple (Kiara Advani). Their love story is like a Bollywood film, from a father who is against their match to Batra nicking his finger to substitute vermillion with his blood.
The 137-minute war drama rests on Batra’s bravery and commitment to the nation and his love story. The family dynamics, military training and his transition from college student to lieutenant are bypassed.
Besides Kiara Advani’s gentle and receptive portrayal of the supportive and yet long-suffering girlfriend, the execution of the action scenes in the rough terrain and high altitudes of Kargil propel the story. The war scenes, in which Batra and his company capture two critical points, are assigned generous screen time, and are skilfully choreographed by Stefan Richter and Sunil Rodrigues.
Sidharth Malhotra warms to the role once he’s at his posting in Kashmir, engaged in combat or interacting with his mates, including Lieutenant Jimmy (Shiv Panditt), Major Jasrotia (Nikitin Dheer), Subedar Raghunath (Raj Arjun) and commanding officer Joshi (Shataf Figar).
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.
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