Movie Name: Kesari
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Parineeti Chopra
Director: Anurag Singh
Kesari recreates an awesome story of the late 18th century when 21 Sikh soldiers managed to fight bravely against an Afghan army of 10000 plus men and held the Saragrahi fort for hours.
Hawaldar Ishar Singh (played by Akshay Kumar) is a soldier who’s very aware of the follies of the war and bloodshed. He’s not happy serving the English ruling the country at that time and he would rather fight for his own country than follow the British command. Brave and noble, Ishar leads his small army of 20 men with discipline and kindness. The Afghan army plans to enter the North west province of the country through the Saragarhi fort and later capture the rest of the borders. However, what it doesn’t reckon is that the valiant soldiers stationed in Saragarhi fort are not going to make the mission as easy as it looked. While Afghanis hoped to capture the fort in one hour, they had to fight for hours before they enter the fort.
When the Afghan army comes attacking it seems like the 21 soldiers with limited ammunition and weapons stand no chance. The British express their incapability to send additional force or ammunition, and the soldiers are left with no choice but fight till the last bullet. Ishar Singh and his army collectively decide to go ahead and face the army and keep them occupied so that they don’t get a chance to attack the other two forts, Guistan and Lockhart in North.
Director Anurag Singh had quite a task in hand as he had to recreate the 1897 world in North west province where Saragrahi fort was situated. Thankfully, he doesn’t compromise on this front and it is evident that a lot of effort and research has gone into the detailing. With help from CGI, and his cinematographer Anshul Chaubey and production designers Subrata Chakraborthy and Amit Ray, Singh manages to present the hilly, difficult terrain of the province very well. From big pagris (Sikhs of those days wore much bigger pagris) down to their canvas shoes as part of their uniform, costume designer Sheetal Sharma adds value to the period created on screen.
The first half of the film is sluggish and low on energy and it is difficult to get through. However, by the interval point the pace is picked up and the amazing action in the second half more than compensates.
A brave leader with his head and heart in the right place, Ishar Singh is a wonderful character to play and Akshay Kumar does a good job. Parineeti Chopra, as Ishar Singh’s love interest comes in and out in flashbacks and is pretty good too. Wish the director had given us glimpses of the personalities of other soldiers too, instead of focusing so much on Ishar Singh’s central character. A glimpse of the other soldiers’ lives would have made this more poignant.
Music (by varied musicians) is fantastic and bodes well with the theme and period of the film.
Watch this film for sure because it is part of our history that we should all be proud of. It is a story that reflects true valour and patriotism.