No offense to the original heroes of Saragarhi, their courage, their sacrifice and their loyalty but some stories are better left sacrosanct by telling them verbally than visually.
By the way, I watched this movie in 4D instead of the 2D I paid for. Sauna like temperatures and sweaty desi armpit smells included – for free! I was packed like a hen in a 300 people theater hall with sweaty desis that had smuggled in their onion-laden food into a hall with a broken air-conditioner and ventilation system. I moved all the way from the last row, where I was sandwiched between five 10 year old boys, to the fourth from the front row because I thought I was going to faint from the smells in that dingy back row. Little did I know that the front rows were sporting their own aroma of nausea inducing smells. While Akshay Kumar was fighting his battle on screen I was fighting mine in my seat. Anyhow…
Kesari turned out to be another great example of ‘the intention was good but the execution was crappy’. It’s still very hard for Indian commercial directors and actors to get passed the ‘har tareh ka masala bharna hai jisse sabh ko pasand aa jaye’ mentality. They forget that today’s discerning Indian movie goer has better taste and does not want to see a warrior cracking slapstick jokes, singing imaginary romantic songs and acting cute in his innocence. Give the warrior the edge he deserves.
The first half of the movie is slow, boring, filled with unnecessary scenes of British cruelty, hen fights (literally!) and jokes that simply had no place in a plot like this. The second half is a seemingly never-ending saga of 21 Sikh soldiers slaying as many of the 10,000 Afghans as they can lay a hand on. It took the director almost an hour and a half to get 21 soldiers killed by those 10,000. Either he put us in some time warp or he wanted to imply that the Afghanis were dumber than physically possible. I get that the true story underlying this movie was pretty incredulous to begin with but I have a feeling the real warriors acted a bit smarter at least. Every time a Kesari movie soldier died four other would drop everything they were doing and start reminiscing with the fallen soldier for a good 5-10 minutes before they got back to their war. Go figure!
The climax takes the cake though! Akshay Kumar is standing as the lone soldier – other than one more who locked himself up in the tower because he was too young, too scared and served as the morse code transmitter to the other forts – surrounded by I guess at least 3,000 leftover Afghani soldiers. Now the Afghanis all of a sudden become very ‘pehle aap – pehle aap’. They only send one soldier at a time and that too to be slayed by AK’s sword. You know, one by one, patiently awaiting their turn. Not until our hero slit open at least 500 of them did he fall to the ground. Maybe that’s how many the director thought would be necessary to all of a sudden turn the cruel Afghan leader onto the moral highway of not wanting to take the Sardar’s pagdi.
Ok, I get it. This was supposed to be an epic war film with a solid story of courage at its base but it clearly didn’t rock my boat. It’s not even that I don’t like patriotic themed movies. I do! This one just didn’t cut it for me – pun intended. (3/10)
P.S.: If anyone finds out the significance of that random transgender Afghan woman peeping through the rocks and aiming at Akshay Kumar please enlighten me.