Kesari tells you the story of the Battle of Saragarhi. The resolve of the 21 Sikh soldiers fighting an army of 10000 in the year 1897.
The story of the Battle of Saragarhi is inspiring. Somewhat unbelievable. They get into the battle knowing they will not survive. They are dedicated to holding the enemy at their post, so that other fronts could be saved.
Kesari gives you a close ringside view of the action. But, it leaves a very odd feeling. You are full of emotions. There are involuntary reactions that you were not prepared for. You feel something is missing and you fail to see what is missing.
Director Anurag Singh has done wonderfully well with Kesari. Akshay Kumar (Havildar Ishar Singh ) raises the bar and yet again delivers a differential performance. Parineeti Chopra is in the background with a small, fleeting role.
KESARI, THE BATTLE OF SARAGARHI.
Though the battle of Saragarhi takes long to arrive on screen, you do not really mind the time invested in building the background narrative and characters. You feel you are out there in the north-west province in the dusty, arid zone. You enjoy the moments, every bit of them adding to the experience.
It is easy to identify some of the set pieces on the deliberate chessboard of a war movie. And you let them pass. The rookie who has never fired. The man who would freeze. The soldier who will put himself in the line of fire to rescue someone. One in love and the other a father waiting for leave. Patriotic speeches. The support that is not far but can’t be rushed. A unit that is precariously short of ammunition. A leader who has all the answers. Who leverages the emotions and pride of the soldiers for willingly making the final Ahuti ( offering) in the Havan ( fire) of a war.
There are numerous interspersed clues ( dots) scattered through the film. They are force fitted to help director bind the narrative. The son of soil character of Ishwar Singh and the respect to the turban. Indian soldiers assisting the Afghans in constructing a mosque. The misfit of a regimental unit that will later become brave warriors. The shoes that are lovingly polished by the solider because his father wanted one. Britisher blaming Indian Soil for lack of courage and our hero just not liking it. And there are many more of such clues.
You are no wiser about the Battle of Saragarhi even after seeing the movie.
The first half of the film and the battle itself feels a bit longer than required. However, with the current patriotic mood of the nation, the bravery of Sikh Soldiers in a war fought 120 years back brings up a wave of pride. No doubt, Akshay and Anurag’s Kesari becomes the biggest grosser of 2019 on day 1, doing a business of 21 Crores.
Watch it if you want another shot of Patriotic Nationalistic Solider appreciating heroic syrup.
The story remains incomplete. It is just waves of Afghans just rushing to capture the fort and soldiers also fighting without any strategic plan.
Somewhere, something Is missing. I do not see the film holding on to week two or three.