Shershaah is a 2021 Indian biopic of the late Army Captain Vikram Batra, who sacrificed his life, fighting in the Kargil War between India and Pakistan in 1999. Captain Batra was part of the 13th Jammu and Kashmir Rifles who shot to fame after his confrontation with the Pakistani Military when war was imminent.
The movie follows Captain Batra from his early childhood where he showed nationalist sentiments and dreamed of joining the Indian Armed Forces, and to his journey of becoming an Army Captain just at the age of 25. The film is directed by Vishnu Varadhan and stars Sidharth Malhotra and Kiara Advani as lead roles, among other cast members. Shershaah has a total run time of just over 2 hours and 15 minutes.
Based on the life story of Captain V. Batra, this movie endeavours to cover the (however brief) span of his life in an emotional and tear-jerking narrative. The movie talks about his journey from a simple schoolmaster’s son from Palampur to a household name during the Kargil War.
Amazon Prime describes it as:
Shershaah is true story of brace India Soldier – Capt. Vikram Batra, who shot to fame and became a household name during the Kargil war in 1999.
His Indoominable spirit and his unflinching courage in chasing pakistani soldiers out of indian territory contributed immensly in india finally winning the kargil war in 1999.Via Amazon Prime Video’s official website.
– Shershaah review does not contain spoilers –
Death and sacrifice are quite obviously, touchy subjects, especially when a war film based on true events is concerned. So, while Shershaah does its best to coax out the tears, the impact is not what one would expect, especially with a cast like that.
Judging Shershaah as the story of Captain Vikram Batra, it’s great. It shows us his dreams, his wishes, and his life back home in Chandigarh and Palampur. The makers focus on this resolutely during the first half of the film. The war building up and the subsequent action that follows makes up the second half of the movie.
However, judging Shershaah as just a movie rather than the sentiment behind it, it falls short on certain key aspects. The dialogues are weak, and considerably so. With films full of sentiment like these, there are at least a few iconic dialogues that stick with the audience beyond the cinema hall. But in Shershaah, dialogues only do the bare minimum, that is, establish an exchange between the characters.
Other than that, there’s also the fact that each incident leading up to that *one* interview that went viral, feels dramatized and inauthentic. I went into this movie knowing next to nothing about the life of Captain Vikram Batra and I could still tell that the interview is the only part that was the most accurately portrayed.
Coming to the parts I enjoyed about the film, let’s talk about the action sequences. With war films, they can feel overused and redundant, but Shershaah somehow manages to make each one feel as new and exciting as the previous one. The cinematography was great too, with long takes to guide us through the stream of shootouts.
Final Verdict: Shershaah
War biopics are a tricky amalgamation of genres to master. One of the best ones to come out of Bollywood was Uri: The Surgical Strike starring Vicky Kaushal. Compared to this standard that Uri set, Shershaah is not the amazing piece of cinema one would expect to see come out of the tender story of Captain Vikram Batra and the Kargil conflict.
The characters and dialogues fall flat, and the emotional appeal only works because of the topic at hand. Cheesy scenes between the leads and overly dramatized sequences dull the impact. However, what saves the film is its well-thought-out action choreography and an empathetic focus on all the army men who lost their lives in the Kargil War of 1999. One thing that particularly stood out was the fact that the film didn’t fall into the trope of having the soldiers stoic-faced and emotionless throughout the film.
All of this makes it a good one-time watch, no more, no less.
Shershaah is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.