Kesari, a story about the Battle of Saragarhi, directed by Anurag Singh is an inconsistent film but one can watch it for some moments that work.
After watching the trailer, which only seemed good in parts, I felt that the film will be another disappointment. Frankly, after the first half, I was ready to bash it in my review.
But the second half took the cake for me, which is when the battle actually started.
The first half of the film is replete with Havildar Ishar Singh’s quest for Aazadi against the gore babu, the obvious indifference and foolery of the gore babus, tons of ‘Oye’ and ‘Pai’ (bhai), the background stories of the 21 Sikhs and the absolutely unnecessary character of Parineeti Chopra just to provide Akshay Kumar with a back story.
But it’s the second half of the film that manages to bring you to the edge of your seat or tears in your eyes in some moments.
THE LOOK OF THE CHARACTERS
As I had mentioned in my trailer review, the costume department doesn’t seem like it did its job well.
Also, all the characters in the films had beards that looked real, but what happened when it came to Akshay Kumar?
Although the film does play on some stereotypes here and there, for instance, Sikhs crack lame jokes with the Ku-Kudoo-Ku joke with a chicken, something that I can give this film full marks for is the way they wrote the characters of the 21 Sikhs giving them enough traits that often break the stereotype.
One of them is a musician who plays a Rawanhatha, though stereotyped in one scene as a romantic and mocked in a moment of homophobia, but is a force to reckon with during the final battle. It was extremely heartening to see that.
A young 19-year old boy, Gurmukh Singh, who was one of the 21 soldiers, couldn’t fire at the enemy, even to save a fellow soldier and when enquired by Ishar Singh, admitted to his fear, who in turn let him do what he could instead of making it another jingoistic speech about the necessity of war.
It was a breath of fresh air to see that being a Sikh, for once, wasn’t associated with a toothless idea that Sikhs aren’t afraid.
Parineeti Chopra, who played Akshay Kumar’s wife in the film, might be a character important to give Ishar Singh’s story a background, but PC managed to make it a little more irrelevant with her underwhelming performance.
Even if you are a figment of his imagination, you’re the love of his life, you can’t get away with an “awwwww” expression on your face for your dying husband.
Coming to the villain of the film, the Mullah, leading the army of Afghans, was the most linearly written characters ever.
-Incites people in the name of Jihaad.
-Is obviously a coward and starts shitting bricks at the first aim the enemy takes at him.
-Utters stupid dialogues like “Ye Sardar bahut bolta hai.”
The only one I couldn’t understand was an effeminate character in a black robe, in the Afghan army who happens to be a sharp shooter.
What was the need for his presence? Who was he? Why was he effeminate and introduced with his pinky finger sticking out while holding his gun? I don’t really know.
The background music in the film is the worst I have seen in a long time. If we go solely by the music, every second scene in the film is the climax to convey either bravado or a moment of significance.
I can almost hear the conversation between the director and the background music department for the brief.
Dir: This is a film about bravery.
BM dept: And?
BM: What leads up to it?
BM: OKAY. WE GET IT!
And this is how they ended up putting jarring background music in every second scene, conveying either something sinister or something brave, even when it’s a light conversation between two friends.
An overenthusiastic sound designer saw this film as a chance to show ALL their talent in one film.
The edit is the second problem for me after the overenthusiastic background music. The basics seem to be forgotten while editing this film, particularly in the battle scene.
The film worked only in parts for me, and all of them happen to be in the second half. It was as if the film crew was waiting to get to the battle and skimmed through the first half to get to the point.
In a nail-biting moment, the Afghans came to the door of the Saragarhi fort. An epic to-and-fro ensues between the Sikhs and the Afghans. When a Sikh soldier gets shot while reloading his gun, the others try to stop his bleeding, another one takes off his turban to tie around him.
The Sikhs stop the firing and head out of the door themselves facing the Afghans and kill all the ones outside. I would like to mention that there was no Akshay Kumar in the sequence.
The final moment, like I had mentioned in the trailer review, where the burning Sikh comes out to face the Afghan army, was indeed one of the best scenes in the film. Yet again, it gave me the chills. While I was trying to guess as to who could it be?
My instinct went to the 19-year old Gurmukh Singh’s character who had refused to fire a shot. It was easy to dismiss him as a scared little boy. The Afghan utters, “Mujhe iss Sardar ki cheekhein sunni hain. Aag laga do minaar ko.”
Gurmukh Singh prepares himself and writes his name on the wall in the martyr’s list already. He comes out from the doors like a silent ball of fire, standing eye-to-eye with the Afghans, and screams with all he’s got, “Bole So Nihaal.”
THE AWARD FOR THE MOST POWERFUL MOMENT IN THE FILM goes to this moment.
Overall, I give Kesari 2.5 stars. I recommend you to watch the film for the second half! It is a beautiful story that needs to be told.
Image Credits: Google Images
Find the blogger at: @thisismsarora
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