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Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Kesari: The Battle of Saragarhi is a Pivotal Chapter in Indian History & Relevant to Today

Kesari is a very special film as it underlines an important aspect of Indian history – the Battle of Saragarhi.

For the very first time, we will be seeing Akshay Kumar and Parineeti Chopra together in one film.

Once again, after Raazi, Karan Johar and Zee Studios have united to present yet another patriotic venture.

The trailer of this Anurag Singh movie has released and it promises to be quite a powerful and gripping piece of cinema.

However, more than the movie’s interesting premise, Kesari is a far more important movie and showcases a crucial story in Indian history.

Filme Shilmy explores.

Kesari Trailer Oozes of National Pride

“A white man told me that I’m a slave. Only cowards are born from Indian soil. Today is the time to respond to that,” says Havildar Ishar Singh (Akshay Kumar).

As Ik Onkaar plays, we get to see a compassionate side to Ishar Singh and then we see scenes regarding the brave battle.

At one point there is a glimpse of how Singh singlehandedly slays the enemies without even a single glitch.

We also understand the meaning of Kesari (saffron) colour and it symbolises bravery and martyrdom.

Seeing this as a British Indian, it makes one feel immensely proud of the great sacrifices made by the Sikhs in Indian history.  

The 1897 Battle of Saragarhi and its Significance

On 12th September 1897, 21 British Indian Army Sepoys (Sikh soldiers) defended the Saragarhi outpost in the hills of the North West Frontier Province, (now Pakistan), against 10,000 Afghan tribesmen.

Rather than surrender, the soldiers fought to the death for nearly 10 hours with ammunition and bayonets.

Although the outpost was lost, the Afghans later admitted to having lost around 180 of their soldiers and many more wounded. This demonstrates the expertise of the Sikh soldiers.

According to historians, the Battle of Saragarhi is the only time in British military history where every soldier involved in an army action, was awarded the highest military honour available to them.

This war is a reinforces how all the groups (in this case – Indians/Sikhs) made great sacrifices to make nations great.

The battle stirs a sense of national pride which itself is inspirational and unites the Indian race and nationality together.

It encourages many proud of being British Sikhs and to live according to the main principles of the Sikh religion, which empowered the soldiers to undertake great deeds.

However, this war is not just limited to history.

The battle is also a reminder of how much India has always been targetted by foreigners… As can be noticed by recent incidents that have occurred in the country.

So even 122 years after the battle, Hindustan continues to be under siege and is compelled to combat outsiders.

Why Kesari is Important for Today’s Indian Cinema

Currently, in Indian cinema, we have been seeing a lot of films which bring about not-so-known stories regarding historical valiant heroes/battles.

For instance, the Punjabi movie Sajjan Singh Rangroot is based on a true story about the Sikh Regiment, serving in the British Indian Army, during World War I.

JP Dutta’s Paltan depicts the bravery of jawans during the 1967 Nathu La and Cho La clashes along the Sikkim border after the 1962 Sino-Indian War.

More importantly, there have also been stories about how courageous Indian queens fought back against foreign supremacy in films like Padmaavat and Manikarnika. 

Furthermore, Ashutosh Gowariker’s Panipat is another upcoming film which depicts how the Maratha empire combats the invading forces of the King of Afghanistan.

Kesari is almost a forgotten historical story, now being presented via commercial Hindi cinema.

Akshay Kumar seems to be appearing in several patriotic films such as Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, Pad Man and Gold. 

Being a superstar of his calibre, it is so wonderful to see an actor like Akshay present such valiant stories to the mainstream audience.

As for Zee Studios, the producers of the film, they have been on a roll with presenting Indian historical films.

Through movies like Raazi, Manikarnika and Uri, the production company is ensuring that the Indian and international audience alike understand what India has and is going through as a nation.

It is a huge accomplishment to see stories like Kesari being brought to celluloid on such a grand scale.

One hopes that this nationalistic fervour continues in Indian cinema.

Watch the trailer of Kesari here:


Kesari releases in cinemas on 21st March. 

Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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