Sardar Udham, the latest offering from the ace director Shoojit Sircar is a heart-wrenching tale of the sacrifices of one of the forgotten heroes of our freedom struggle- Sardar Udham Singh. It is a poignant saga of a martyr seldom remembered for his valor, determination or devotion to his motherland. India’s inability to make biopics sans unnecessary emotions or well-researched set pieces is well known. But Sardar Udham breaks the barrier and presents before us a creation that should be hailed for its dogged determination in denying the norms and for depicting a story that needed extensive study, unbiased sentiments and unabashed truthfulness.
The cardinal parts of the protagonist’s life from during the repercussions of the Jalliwanwala Bag massacre to his eventual execution in the hands of the British imperialists form the core of the story. The nucleus of course is the vengeance he took on the soil of the Britishers. Throughout the journey, we are presented with so many facts hitherto unknown to the most. In an age of History courses taught through FB or WhatsApp posts, director Shoojit Sircar takes a U-turn and works on several important issues deliberately untold before. It takes tremendous courage to portray the political orientation of Sardar Udham or his friend-cum-brother-cum-political mentor Bhagat Singh. The political ideology of HSRA has been depicted without any penchant for being partisan to gain any political mileage for the movie, a common trait these days. Another aspect of the movie is its bravery to show how Indians irrespective of their religions were used to suppress their own fellows during those tumultuous days. Keeping the dialogues mostly in English or Punjabi instead of ludicrously pronounced Hindi by the Britishers adds to the genuineness of intentions of the creator.
The film, however, has its own share of flaws. The makeup is not classy and looks artificial at times. The lad who donned the role of Bhagat Singh does not look convincing. The undulating movements of the time frames become monotonous at certain points. Certain unnecessary flashbacks could have been avoided. The runtime of more than 160 minutes is a bit irksome and at least thirty minutes could have been trimmed to maintain the tempo. The climax does not yield enough dividends for the patience held for so long.
If we can ignore the minor flaws, Sardar Udham has the potentials to become a classic in the coming years. Vicky Kaushal as the vengeful protagonist is a treat to watch. In a metaphorical scene at the Freedom of Speech squad, he delivers a monologue that knocks you down for his sheer timing and brilliant expressions. Did the director take a dig at something at that scene? Vicky is terrific throughout and he is one reason you should not miss this movie. Stephen Hogan as the detective inspector John Swain is smooth in essaying a tough role that demanded dutifulness and softness. Amol Parashar as Bhagat Singh as already mentioned lacks confidence. Shaun Scott as Michael O’dwyer is believable and Kirsty Averton as Eileen is expressive.
The movie has the ideological presence of the great martyr Bhagat Singh throughout and that may be a good lesson for many who idolize him without having any respect for the ideals he promoted. The massacre scene of Jalliwanwala Bagh is gruesome, horrific and presents the true magnitude of violence inflicted by the Britishers on our countrymen during those days. The scene is long, raw and uncompromising, a trait not common in our movie industry where nothing is done without glamorizing. Sardar Udham does not for a moment try to add any glamour to a story that needed truthfulness, honesty and a heart clear of any partisan feelings.
Watch this movie if you want to revisit those days. Watch this movie if you consider yourself non-judgmental. Watch this for the man who needs to be championed for his sheer patriotism, an unabated spirit of equality, and unhindered love for his countrymen.
My rating- 9 out of 10