Shershaah — Ye Dil Maange More
Nobody likes to go to war. But when the enemy has stepped inside your house, it is your duty to push them out and ensure they don’t return. Our Indian Defense forces have that fervour to push out such pests from our territory. Param Vir Chakra Captain Vikram Batra was one of them but he rose above them because of his motto: “Ye dil maange more” (the heart years for more). He wanted to contribute as much as he could, to help get rid of those pests. He did that, and the whole nation will forever remain indebted to him.
Making a memorable movie on a real-life hero is impossible. Hence, Shershaah isn’t perfect. But it has too many good aspects that makes it worth a watch, and I believe its a movie that will age well due to its realistic portrayal of the Indian Army and their challenges. I know this because for one year in 2002, I’d lived in Akhnoor cantonment which was also a sensitive area in those days and also went for mathematics tuitions in the civil area there.
My favorite scene consisted of the following dialogue that is a war-cry for Shershaah’s company.
“हो तैयार?!” (Are you ready?!)
“हैं तैयार!” (We are ready!)
“करोगे वार?!” (Will you fight?)
“करेंगे वार!” (We will fight!)
“एक अपना!” (One of us)
“दुश्मन के चार!” (will beat four of the enemy)
“जीत अपनी!” (We will be victorious!)
“दुश्मन की हार!” (The enemy will be defeated!)
“बोलो दुर्गे माता की” (Hail, Goddess Durga!!)
Notice how they’re not saying, Bharat maata ki jai. Instead they’re invoking the Goddess of war, Durga, to bless them with strength, valor and victory. The absence of Bharat maata ki jai in an Indian war movie is odd but replacing it with a callback to our Indic culture by invoking Goddess Durga is even better. Moreover, Durga maata ki jai is a warcry of the Jammu and Kashmir Rifles, hence it was correctly shown in the movie.
The movie also showcased the bonding that Captain Batra easily forms with everyone, be it his army men or Kashmiri civilians. In one scene when his subedar is advising him not to go alone with the civilian into the dark, he responds, “If we won’t trust them, they won’t trust us”.
Captain Vikram Batra also saved Sidharth Malhotra’s career as an actor. This role has done what M.S. Dhoni movie did for Late Sushant Singh Rajput. Whether Sidharth does another movie after this doesn’t matter, he has successfully brought Captain Vikram Batra to life for all of us to witness his valor and compassion. He was passionate about killing his enemy but more than that he was passionate about saving his soldiers. His passion got him killed but also made him immortal. Portraying the role of this icon has made Sidharth also somewhat immortal in the sense that now he will not be completely forgotten.
Overall the movie is a wonderful viewing experience. I was surprised to hear some reviewers say that first half isn’t that good whereas I liked the first half too. The romantic sequence, I agree, is the weakest point in the movie but it felt natural and I’m glad they didn’t stretch it too much. Cinematography was quite good, and I enjoyed the battle scenes because of good camera work and background score. Some critics also have an issue with the movie not showing how bad or futile a war is. I am surprised that they don’t realize that this is not relevant in a movie that celebrates a war hero that died for his country by saving his fellow soldiers.
I liked how they focused on certain details during the battle such as Sidharth indicating to his soldiers when he is going to throw a grenade (he does that more than once and follows similar protocol). There’s another small bit about a soldier offering some snack to Sidharth while they are hiding behind a rock to be safe from enemy firing. The constant vigilance of Captain Batra to save his fellow men and also civilians has been shown on more than one occasion which keeps reinforcing my respect for him. Such gestures eventually gets him killed in action but he inspired millions of us in the process.
Is it true that Captain Batra cleared SSB in his 13th attempt? If yes, then this should have been a part of the movie, since it would have added one more reason for us to respect him and be inspired by his dedication and focus.
In the end, Captain Batra continues to do in death what almost all of us fail to do in life — to inspire millions to fight for our country and our people, and to save a promising actor’s career.