- Movie Name:Kesari
- Critics Rating: 3 / 5
- Release Date: 21-03-2019
- Director: Anurag Singh
- Genre: Action-Drama
It’s been long since Bollywood saw a carefully-crafted period war drama. Kesari broke the dry spell with Akshay Kumar leading the pack. Making a war movie and that about a battle that’s been long lost in the pages of history is not a cakewalk. However, kudos to the casting and direction of the film, Kesari was unlike any other patriotic films with abundant amount of chest-thumping. Kesari is raw, touching and compelling in equal proportions. Had it been about a bunch of young men crying war at the top of their voice, the magic wouldn’t have been so picture-perfect. The film directed by Anurag Singh had its own moments of highs and lows, but the narrative itself sailed the boat to its shores.
Unfortunately, everyone of us have the limited knowledge about the Battle of Saragarhi, which is touted to be one of the greatest last-stands in the history. (Last Stand: A last stand is a military situation in which a body of troops holds a defensive position in the face of overwhelming odds. The defensive force usually takes very heavy casualties or is completely destroyed.) Havildar Ishar Singh (Akshay Kumar) is leading his troop at the Saragarhi Fort which usually has the chores of passing messages between Gulistan and Lockhart. Taking advantage of lack of men at Saragarhi, 12,000 Afghan tribals with the mission to annex the forth attacked the territory. Easily outnumbered, the 21 Sikh soldiers took the attackers head-on and held them to Saragarhi until the evening. It was a tactical victory for the Pashtun invaders, but they failed to capture the main forts: Fort Gulistan and Fort Lockhart. All the 21 valiant Sikh soldiers were martyred in the fierce battle.
Kesari Movie Review
The heart of a film lies in the casting and Kesari did it well. All the actors who played the 21 soldiers in the film nowhere seemed like they’re acting. All the emotions were displayed by them with the needed gravitas, giving us a gist of the battle that took place more than a century ago. Parineeti Chopra appeared in Havildar Ishar Singh’s imagination for few fleeting moments, but the imaginary conversations between her and Ishar Singh hurts as much as we love them.
Akshay Kumar slipped out of his Khiladi Kumar persona and let the vulnerability of his character take over him. He was a solider of higher order, but he was not void of fear as the fighters are projected in most of the fictional projects. He knew what was on stake if he and his 20 soldiers decided to fight the Pashtuns. In the moments of deaths of his comrades, he laments and at the very next moment, he wields his gun back. The transition of emotions takes place in a smooth manner without glitches. Akshay Kumar has done many films related to patriotism and valour, but Kesari is certainly one of the realest and rawest depictions of real-life superheroes.
A special mention also goes to Ashwath Bhatt who played the role of Orakzai ruler Gul Badshah Khan. His character had a tinge of white and black, which made it even more likeable as well as relatable. He opens fire on 21 soldiers at Saragarhi Fort, however, disrespecting anyone's religion was not his motto. Ashwath Bhatt did justice to the role and nowhere he was overshadowed by the star power that Akshay Kumar carries. We saw Gul Badshah Khan as he wanted us to see him and that's how he wins in Kesari.
What didn’t work was the first half that was spent preparing the stage of the ultimate battle which we went to see; the Battle of Saragarhi. The opening fight scene over a Pashtun woman seemed redundant and the film could have easily done without it. The conversation between Ishar Singh and the Afghani woman contributed nothing to build the storyline. In the first half, the makers are trying to find a way to start the story. It might get a bit sluggish, but a little patience will take you to the second half that’s full of blood, gore and intense fight sequences.
After a lot of beating the bush in the first half, Kesari gets on the track in the second half. The screenplay falters a bit here and there, but as the second half progresses further, the film starts making sense. The fight scenes are real and full of blood as a real battle would be. If you're a faint-hearted person, you may want to cover you eyes when Ishar Singh and his troops brutally cut the Afghan invaders into half.
Overall, Kesari is a delightful watch. While Holi is a festival of colours, Kesari will teach you the meaning of one colour; Saffron, which means sacrifice and courage.