Movie Review : 13 Feb 2019

Uri : The Surgical Strike

Does writing a review of a movie almost a month after it’s release count? I wondered as I went to watch Uri last night. I haven’t watched a film in the last three months, and now watching Uri so many weeks after release seems to make a review quite redundant….but I persist anyways. So my dear readers, please indulge me and to see if you agree or disagree.

A couple of weeks ago, in a leadership meeting at work, one of the speakers opened his speech with the war cry from the film. He asked with energy- How’s the josh? And about 90% of the group there responded- High Sir!
Not having watched the film, it took me a moment to understand where this came from, and then it got me thinking. If so many people could instantly identify with and own a war cry like that with such enthusiasm and pride then this movie had definitely made its mark.

So as I sat in the theatre last night I waited to see if I felt the same way. Of course being from a army family, it’s pretty much a given that I would identify and feel the josh. But Uri as a film is more than just a jingoistic army movie.

The script, storyline and the tight telling of this tale puts Uri amongst the notable and memorable war films of our times, not just in India but across the world.

The characters led by the amazing Vicky Kaushal created an army world which even we as insiders from that world could believe. And while the prime focus is on the character of Major Vihaan Shergill, every character in the film is etched well and has a strong valid place in the story, thus making the film about the team and by extension the nation, rather than just a one man story to celebrate.

Notable in the film are Kirti Kulhari who plays a air force pilot with a real sense of deep commitment. She comes across as really natural in her role, and doesn’t overplay her body language (which tends to happen with women who portray characters in typically masculine jobs). Swaroop Sampat as his mother with Alzheimer’s is really believable. As is Paresh Rawal who in his role of a Defense Secretary really brings out the kind of tension that a man who needs to helm an operation of this depth and complexity would have.

The cinematography, editing, music and the dialogue are all superlative and give us a higher plain view while still taking us through the film as empathetic insiders, sitting tightly wound in our seats waiting for the operation to come to a victorious end.

Some of the stories and characters in the film do seem clearly added in and remind us that this is a fictional story based on a real life event.

The characters of the prime minister and his cabinet have been so matched up, that it leaves us with no doubt as to who these people were and what part they supposedly played in the planning and execution of the famous ‘Surgical Strike’.

And that brings me to the other argument which did the rounds at the time when the actual terrorist attack on the Uri camp happened and the much talked about retaliatory surgical strike which India answered with. The skeptics said it was fictional then and many continue to say that today and thus have labeled he film as propoganda.

Here’s what I felt then, and I feel now after watching the film. I can’t be sure whether the surgical strike happened for real. That would be tale only a few insiders would know for sure. But I know this, if it did happen and the film (undoubtedly after some help from the Ministry of Defence to get much of the inside story on the incident) captures the die hard spirit of the armed forces, the real life frustrations, the sacrifices of the soldiers and their families and above all, the real and present passion and commitment to actually go out there and die for the nation. That is real and no cynic can take that away from those men on the borders and also those of us who have seen and experienced it for real.

So I’d like to believe with great pride that the Uri story is real and that it was a strategically smart war hand to play (given the international pressures of the time). When the media was flooded with stories about the surgical strike they had the exact impact that the government intended then. The government has managed to also leverage the power of Bollywood to tell stories like Uri and Pokharan and while it may seem strategic, these are stories that the country can and should own with pride.

So propaganda or not, the film is memorable and stands on its own merits as s story told with great skill, passion and belief. Every aspect of it – from the amazing writing and direction by Aditya Dhar supported by his excellent cast and crew, showed belief and passion in the project. Together they have given us a film which made us feel the Josh.

So if Uri happened, it is a operation that makes me proud of our armed forces. And if as the naysayers say, it didn’t happen, hey, the film told us a great story. And since, ultimately, this is a film review….in my opinion, Uri is a 4.5 star film and if you haven’t caught it yet, go see it before it leaves theatres. You can see it on tv later too, but whatever it is, don’t miss this one.
I am sure, like me, you will feel the Josh!

As written by my friend!