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Friday, December 8, 2023

Kesari Movie Review: Akshay Kumar Paints the Screen Saffron With Patriotic Fervour

Kesari is a very special film as it underlines an important aspect of 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.

This Anurag Singh directorial is an unbelievable true story based on the Battle of Saragarhi, 1897.

It is touted as one of the bravest battles ever fought, 21 courageous Sikhs countered 10,000 invaders.

These saffron clad warriors fought valiantly against all odds and changed the meaning of bravery.

The Narrative

Havildar Ishar Singh gets transferred to the Saragarhi fort because he didn’t follow orders.

On reaching there, he gets shocked to see how lazy and indisciplined the soldiers in the 36th Sikh Regiment are due to the lack of actions needing to be taken.

In the first half, the film’s pivotal crux intention is diluted by the forced comic relief, a romantic song and Ishar Singh hating the British’s oppression.

There are some touching moments were we see Ishar Singh helping the Pathans build a mosque so this does not make the film one-dimensional.

Sadly, the movie takes a long time for it to reach the main battle and this delay is rather unnecessary.

Rather than feeling attached to these characters, we just want the movie to reach the main crux of the film.

It’s only up till the main action begins.

The scene where the Afghanistan troupe comes in with drums and fanfare captivates the viewer’s attention.

A special mention goes to the fantastic action choreography. This is well done.

Oozes of Patriotism & Pride

Thankfully, the second half picks up the pace and the way the Saragarhi battle is depicted gives goosebumps.

Dialogues like: “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,” evokes a sense nationalism.

Kesari at least highlights the immense sacrifice that has been made by the Sikhs for combatting foreign invaders.

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

For me to witness these valiant Sikh soldiers slay their enemy despite being outnumbered makes one feel emotional.

Seeing one of the Sikh soldier’s corpse on swords sticking inside and out of his body is a harsh reminder of India’s tortured past.

As such, if anything, the film highlights a lesser-known chapter in history and makes us realise how much India has suffered at the hands of foreign conquerors – especially the British.

However, the prolonged speeches and stretched out action scenes deter the film from reaching its maximum cinematic potential.

Perhaps a better filmmaker could’ve done more justice to this important story. Some portions of l melodrama and over the top heroic antics bring the film down.

Cast Performances

Akshay Kumar’s endeavour of portraying this valiant character is sincere and that translates on the screen.

His performance during the scene where he single-handedly fights the enemy is powerful and gives goosebumps.

This can be said to be his most courageous roles to date.

Whilst Parineeti Chopra seems like an apparition, her role almost acts as the conscious of Ishar Singh and this is quite effective.

It would’ve been nice to see Parineeti appear in more crucial points of the film, but nonetheless, she is convincing in her part.

Rakesh Chaturvedi Om portrays the extremist mullah, Saidullah and the main antagonist.

The good factor about his performance is that he underplays the role to the T and this works very well.

His presence is menacing and one cannot help but despise his character so much… Which means a job well done by an actor!

Final Word

On the whole, Kesari is no way near a perfect film, in fact, there are several flaws in it.

Nonetheless, this is an important one since this is the first time we’ve seen a feature film on the battle of Saragarhi.

Plus, it is a reminder of the sacrifices made by the Sikhs for their nation and honour.

Whilst the execution could’ve been improved in many ways, every Indian and human being must watch it and once again, learn about India’s tortured past.

Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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