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Friday, September 22, 2023

Major Review: Indian Braveheart Gets Poignant Tribute

The year 2022 has presented several counter-terrorism narratives in titles like The Kashmir Files, Attack, Beast and most recently, Anek (to an extent). It is great to see mainstream Indian cinema uniting to highlight stories which are pro-nation and the valour of frontline soldiers. Adding to this guild is Major by Sashi Kiran Tikka. Prominent Telugu star Adivi Sesh headlines. Well-known actors like Revathy, Saiee Manjrekar, Sobhita Dhulipala and Prakash Raj also feature. Mahesh Babu, the megastar, is roped in as producer.

The picture is based on the life of real-life, Hero Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan (played by Sesh). It aims to show how this valiant soldier saved the lives of numerous hostages before being martyred by the terrorists. Set at the backdrop of Mumbai’s Taj Hotel Attacks on 26th November 2008.

The movie begins on a poignant note of how the Mr Unnikrishnan was always patriotic in essence. From the on-set, we see the protagonist as a family man’s and doted lover. The movie seems to adopt the Shershaah approach wherein cheesy romance becomes a pivotal layer to the film. Such unnecessarily prolongs the movie’s duration, steering it away from overall valour of the story.

In fact, scenes between the parents and son are endearing to watch, the story should’ve focused more on that, rather than making it into a love-torn couple angle. In fact, I was much more interested to see how they as kin were coping with their child on the battleground. Kudos also goes to Revathy and Prakash Raj for such power performances as the mother and father. I got emotional towards seeing their work.

Action sequences are immersive to watch and keeps viewers engaged from the on-set. At times, the recounting of 26/11 gave me goosebumps. I felt like I was transported back in time, sitting at home following the news as our frontline warriors battled sinister forces. Camera work during such moments are captivating and emotionally-stirring. The director manages to exude that horror in a resonant manner.

There are, however, scenes which are exaggerated and larger-than-life distract us from the main crux at hand. For instance, during the important battle between terrorists and Indian army in the second half, the narrative delves into the backstory of why the couple separated. The positing of this is messy and interruptive. It would’ve been better to perhaps summarise this in the end. I believe this would’ve made the overall flow more cohesive.

Sesh makes his Hindi debut and he is decent. He adds a calming presence to the screen and is handsome. However, he seems to lack intensity during the emotionally-charged quotients. Saiee Manjrekar, though in a brief role, shows some growth as an actor here. She has the ability to react in sentimental parts. Sobhita Dhulipala as always is mesmerising. By playing a hostage caught into extreme circumstances, she presents the vulnerability, effortlessly.

The picture is patriotic without unnecessarily declaration of it. Of course, it’s never wrong to chest thump how proud one is of their country, but it’s touching to see how passion for one’s nation is reflected through action. Such is the story of Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan. I just wish it was presented slightly better.

⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3/5 stars)

Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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