Akshay Kumar’s upcoming film Kesari has piqued public interest in the Battle of Saragarhi that took place in 1897. The trailer has clocked more than 20 million views in around 24 hours since its release. The September 12, 1897 battle, in the North-West Frontier Province (now Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan), is distinct as 21 Sikhs of the 36th Sikh Regiment (now the 4th Battalion of the Sikh Regiment) of British India, defended an army post against more than 10,000 Afghan and Orakzai tribesmen.
The British government had conferred on the martyred soldiers of the 36th Sikhs its highest battle honour of ‘Indian Order of Merit Grade II'. This history has been written about in several books, including in one documentation by Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh.
The story of valour and patriotism has now found takers in the world of showbiz.
Kesari, which comes out on March 21, was preceded by 21 Sarfarosh: Saragarhi 1897, a series from Abhimanyu Singh's Contiloe Pictures, which specialises in historical dramas.The show, streaming on Netflix, has 65 episodes and stars Mohit Raina and Mukul Dev in principal roles.
“Battle of Saragarhi is considered as one of the bravest days in Indian history. It was a pleasure telling a story of such importance and creating something at this scale," Singh had said earlier.
As for Kesari, directed by Anurag Singh, it takes the gripping story to an epic scale with Akshay as Ishar Singh, complete with a turban and beard.
It is the film's patriotic flavour, backed by action sequences and an aggression that Akshay has displayed, that have made the industry sit up and take notice.
Film and trade expert Girish Johar told IANS: "It is a story being told at an epic level. The canvas is huge.
"It has a possibility of being the highest box office earner for Akshay Kumar. Also, Akshay Kumar will be seen in an intense, aggressive avatar, fighting, and moreover, fighting for the country."
Plus, the film has the advantage of releasing on the Holi weekend. Two other Hindi films on the Battle of Saragarhi were in the pipeline, but they have been shelved.
Ajay Devgn was making Son Of Sardaar: The Battle of Saragarhi, a project he had announced in 2016, and there was another movie by Rajkumar Santoshi, Battle Of Saragarhi, starring Randeep Hooda.