#Kesari movie review :
“Akshay roars and the film soars”
One of the greatest battles fought in Indian history is unraveled in the cinematic space by director Anurag Singh in his second Bollywood outing #Keshari , helmed by Dharma Productions.The Battle of Saragarhi was fought between a miniscule army of 21 Sikh soldiers of the 36 Sikh Regiment in British India and 10,000 Afghan invaders in 1897 and is embossed as an incredible display of bravery and valour in the annals of our history.
After championing films with social causes, Akshay Kumar is back to his favorite domain – Action, where he gets to flaunt his machismo and plays the feisty protagonist , Havaldar Ishar Singh, a soldier working for the British Army.Ishar is righteous and a man of conviction – he can’t stand injustice and always upholds the dignity of women as much as his turban.In fact , he rubs shoulders with a bevy of Afghans headed by a wicked Mullah ( #RakeshChaturvediOm) to protect a woman which doesn’t go well with his British superiors and consequently as punishment, he is transferred to Saragarhi Fort, a hub more vulnerable to attacks from external forces.
While Ishar Singh mobilises the carefree troop of the 21 Army men, the Afghan chiefs hatch a plan to attack the fort first , followed by the other twin forts – Gulishtan and Lockhart to gain control of the volatile area. Ishar and his men decide to guard the fort and fight the gigantically sized tribe, what goes as a rare display of courage under fire.
The war ensues in the vast and sprawling landscapes covering the mountains and Anurag captures the urgency and tension effectively, the plot predictability notwithstanding.The first half has occasional lapses with romantic detours between Akshay and the briefly-present Parineeti ,but the post interval portions dedicate entirely to the intense fight scenes that involves the guns,artillery and swords transforming the film into battlefield porn.While jingoism is a strong overtone here, there has been a lot of detailing around the costumes and the accent of that era.
Powered with an exquisite cinematography , the film packs emotional moments imbibed in the camarederie among the soldiers and it evokes genuine sadness as you see them embracing martyrdom one by one. Akshay Kumar does the heavylifting and lends the narrative the desired dramatic heft. He yells, fights like a wounded lion and scorches the screen on fire. The antagonists, primarily Rakesh Chaturvedi Om and Aswath Bhatt, invite despise with their effective portrayal of barbery and hostility.To some extent, Bhatt(last seen in Raazi) humanizes his character with a near perfect pashto accent.
With a runtime of 2.5 hours, Kesari never feels tiring. It has its moments of pride , that swells your heart with patriotism and regard for the martyrs.
I go with 3 out of 5.