An inspiring war drama of victories and bravehearts.
By Khushi Shah
Shershah (2021) chronicles the events in the run-up to the Kargil War and the role of Captain Vikram Batra, PVC, whose invincible spirit and exceptional bravery contributed to India’s victory. The Kargil issue was the harshest mountain warfare ever: Pakistani troops had disguised themselves as Kashmiri militants and infiltrated the Indian side of the Line of Control (LoC), and the entire war was fought at an incredible altitude of 17,000 ft. The movie followed the journey of Vikram from Lieutenant to Captain, and his patriotic spirit, commitment, and sacrifice of his own life for his country.
Warning: Possible spoilers ahead!
The movie starts off with a childhood sequence of Captain Vikram Batra (Siddhart Malhotra) and his growing-up years. This is also where his strong love and passion to fight for his country as a soldier was evoked, instead of him opting for cliché career aspirations like doctor, businessman, or engineer. He also ends up finding his soulmate Dimple Cheema (Kiara Advani) during his college days. In my opinion, the build-up depicts the character’s journey but took up way more screentime than anticipated. At points, I felt like certain details were unnecessary and dragged on, such as the emotional scenes between Dimple and Vikram, family comments, and songs that could’ve been paced out throughout the movie rather than dumping them all together from the start. It felt like a diversion from the heavy subject at hand.
However, I really enjoyed how the directors remained less creative with the script and stuck to the facts/genuine encounters, which proved to be a smart move. The story didn’t manifest the superfluous Bollywood masala or illogical gestures but rather the reality of the true hero that we all know today. Much of the dialogue was written in the Punjabi dialect, in order to represent the characters’ linguistic background, but that was a bummer for me as part of the non-Punjabi audience, because if it was translated into more widely-spoken languages like English or Hindi, then I would’ve enjoyed the romance sequences more. All the action scenes, deaths, verbal attacks, emotions, and cinematics were real and kept simple, which made the characters more lively and heightened the impact of their conversations. I was intrigued by each scene because it was crafted so beautifully.
The cast was immense and truly the epitome of perfection! Shiv Pandit is an incredible actor and it was a feast to watch him on screen. He was a thrill to watch in each scene due to his spontaneous nature and his stance towards violence would fill you with rage over the injustice done.
Siddhart Malhotra as the protagonist truly left me awestruck. To be honest, for me he isn’t the conventional actor when it comes to pure craftsmanship and aura in Bollywood. Upon the first look at the trailer, I didn’t get my hopes high and was doubtful of whether or not Siddhart was appropriate for this biopic. But within a few minutes into the movie, he proved me, and probably most of the audience, wrong because he was extremely plausible and I was convinced that I’m watching a character, and not the actor himself. He was fantastic in all of his scenes, remained simple and not over the top, and especially killed it in the scene with the war backdrop. It was my favourite scene because I truly felt the whole situation came alive as I was watching it, and I felt very sympathetic towards all the things he said. From his expressions to body language, everything was just perfect!
Moreover, while I’ve always grown up seeing Nikitin Dheer as a villain in movies, this time he was in the good books starring as an army officer. His acting was prodigious and fresh to my mind. His character lost his life as well, and was one of the senior officers.
Kiara Advani took her role a notch higher than your ordinary girlfriends in Bollywood. Rather than being your stereotypical girl next door or popular queen bee at school, the young actress exhibited reality. From her getup consisting of simple makeup, hair, and outfits; to her unconditional love for Vikram, she was extremely convincing. She stuck by his side during the toughest of times and remained supportive throughout his journey, even after his martyrdom. They also managed to grow together and celebrate the smallest of joys before hitting the peak; a great depiction of what marriage should look like in real life. She also showcased a modern-day woman who makes her own choices and will stand by them amidst disturbing obstacles. Vikram and Dimple’s eternal love story will truly bring you to tears.
The soundtrack was truly the icing on the cake, with “Ranjha” and “Raatan Lambiyan” currently on loop in my Spotify account. Trust me, this will be your wedding anthem for 2021 and the following years. All the songs brought life to each scene and were sung and composed by the most talented singers out there, giving a humane touch to gruesome war scenes and disconsolate moments.
My mum wisely asserted that, “This movie is an amalgamation of two love stories, one between college sweethearts and one between a soldier and his country,” and I agree. I would truly thank the directors for constructing such a brilliant film and showing how these army men deserve all the glory, respect, and honour in the world. Vikram Batra’s biopic is a must-watch for everyone, and even if, like me, you’re not a fan of this genre, the movie will blow your mind away. I got literal goosebumps!
Shershah can now be streamed on Amazon Prime.