If you are a regular follower of Indian politics, then you will surely have come across the copious amount of memes with ‘Kadi Ninda’ (strong condemnation) as the punch phrase. For the longest time, an average Indian politician cut a sorry figure post the umpteen infiltration and terrorist activities perpetrated on our soil. They came across as diffident and the fear of UN punitive actions acted as a deterrent to sweeping retaliations. But not in 2016. I still remember watching the morning news on the 29th September and hearing the words ‘Surgical Strike’ for the first time in my life and feeling proud of our army and also the government which finally had had enough. India had retaliated and much like our Bollywood movies, had gone to the enemy’s territory and put a bullet and fear in their hearts. As mentioned during the press briefings by the Army General later on, the surgical strike was a masterstroke, as Pakistan could not vehemently protest the same at a world forum, lest they concede that they are in fact harbouring terrorists.
The surgical strike across the Line of control was an apt response to the Uri attack only 11 days back where terrorists killed 19 unarmed soldiers in their sleep. 4 extremists entered the Army base and executed one of the bloodiest ambush in decades. One year after the strike, Ronnie Screwvala announced Uri :The Surgical Strike and the nation has waited for more than a year to watch the dramatised version of the Army’s bravery. The movie does not disappoint. It is one of the few movies which knows where to draw the line between jingoism and factual depiction. War movies from Bollywood have always been more about chest thumping rather than the humans in the middle of the firing line and the repercussions thereof. In Uri, we see a Major who finds purpose in going back to the enemy lines when he loses a close one. We also witness a National Security Advisor who dared to give it back in a language which the enemy understands and a Prime Minister who had come to power assuring action and when the time came, did not shy away from it.
The best thing about Uri is that the director knows how much creative freedom to take and where to up the ante. We have to keep in mind that the logistics of the strike were never divulged to the public, giving rise to a few unscrupulous individuals questioning it’s authenticity. Aditya Dhar (Director) references the chronology of the event and the information at his disposal to knit together a story which will shake up your adrenaline for sure. The movie benefits from a stellar performance by the lead Vicky Kaushal who gets a meaty role which demanded both physicality and emotional connect. He bulks up for the role and imbibes everything which our great Army stands for. He also shines in his emotional moments during the movie. Vicky’s filmography, within just a few years of his debut is something which will make any A-lister jealous. Paresh Rawal, as Govind Bharadwaj (a role which is based on NSA Ajit Doval) helms the show from the sidelines. Yami Gautam is strong, although her character comes across as convoluted with her confusing portrayal of a nurse during the first half. Mohit Raina impresses in a cameo which is also his first foray into Bollywood.
Uri reminded me of Prahaar which is another movie based on our Armed forces. Both movies detail the rigours of war and help us get to know who our real heroes are. I was watching the movie in one of the posh theatres in Mumbai, where hooting is hardly expected, but to my surprise, people responded to the dialogues and sequences with real passion. Such was the vented anger of a nation which has had enough of the ‘we will not hit first rule’. Aditya Dhar strikes a balance between the high octane fight sequences and the emotional journey of Major Vihaan Singh Shergill to serve a story which celebrates the valour of our men on the lines.
While the movie stops short of being great, due to the predictability and few scenes which drag a tad, still, this is one great start to the year. Decades from now, when we will compile the best armed forces movies of Bollywood, this surely does stand chance to be counted amongst one of them.