Sardar Uddham REVIEW: Vicky Kaushal starrer hits you hard as he seamlessly shifts gears as a revolutionary

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Director: Shoojit Sircar

Cast: Vicky Kaushal, Shaun Scott, Stephen Hogan, Amol Parashar, Banita Sandhu, Kirsty Averton, Andrew Havill,
Ritesh Shah.

Bollywood Bubble Rating: 3.5 stars

 

An act of rebellion, revolutionary or terrorism? Sardar Uddham dabbles within the dangerous line with the lense of empathy and fierceness. The horrific Jallianwala Baug massacre by British forces led by O’Dwyer in 1919 continues to evoke a sense of peculiar resentment even today. The massacre gave birth to a number of revolutionaries including Sardar Uddham who decided to avenge the loss in his own way. There is very little known about Ram Mohammad Singh Azad (alias Uddham Singh) in the books of history. Like he says in the movie, ‘it might be a footnote in the books of history’ but through some episodes and chapters, Shoojit Sircar takes us through the life of this ordinary man from Punjab who turns into a revolutionary after witnessing the mayhem during British Raj. Shoojit Sircar treats the storyline with delicate hands without using the usual tone of chest thumping patriotism.

Sardar Uddham starts with the man at the helm being released from the prison, after which, he decides to avenge the Jallianwala Baug massacre by opting for a radical method. He decides to avenge it in London, not India by shooting the man who ordered the massacre, O’ Dryer, and he does exactly that. Uddham is seen entering the East India Association in London where he shoots O’Dryer whilst he was delivering a speech focusing on why India needs the British Raj. Ironic! What follows is a back and forth approach to the story as the investigation proceeds and Uddham is tortured to spill names and gets branded as a terrorist. In flashbacks, we are shown how Uddham entered London in the past 7 years using aliases and different passports. Sometimes he was Udhay Singh, other times Sher Singh or Uddham Singh. What he did during his stay in London and how did he carry out the act of rebellion becomes the crux and goes on for over 2 hours in the film. Honestly, the biggest problem I had with the film is it’s length. 2 hours 45 minutes seemed too long for a film which was one dimensional.

In one of the scenes, the officer in charge of investigation asks Uddham if he can do anything for him. “Yes, tell people I was a revolutionary,” he said. That is a moment in the film you realise to what extent the atrocities spread that an ordinary man was ready to fight tooth and nail to spearhead a revolution. In the same scene, he inquires what made him shoot because he doesn’t look like someone who was a ‘murderer’? The last 45 minutes then focuses on the Jallianwala Baug massacre with gory details and violence that can leave you with an ache in heart. The re-telling of that massacre is painful but Shoojit tries to add authenticity to it using a documentary approach.

 

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Vicky Kaushal is terrific in each scene. In a scene where he is forced to end his hunger strike by use of inexplicable Force, he stands out. There is a sense of restraint patriotism and calmness to him which makes him stand out in each scene. For me, the best part about the film is Vicky. In a patriotic film, there is always a chance of going overboard with the portrayal but Vicky dabbles well between the lines and is convincing. He did go through some physical transformation for the young and slightly older Uddham. Although, about the alias and disguising himself to enter London, I did not find much of a difference in those looks.

The pace of the movie is extremely slow which made it an exhausting watch for me. The screenplay could have been better because the film started to lose my attention in the middle. The music is kept somber and non-dramatic which I liked.

 

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Shoojit Sircar is as usual a maestro when it comes to direction. He is very clear with his perspective and lenses. He is a master truly. The dialogues are simple yet effective, without a forced element of hyper nationalism.

It is interesting how the premise of the film, the thin line between revolutionary and terrorism, and the arbitrary use of law are still relevant today, many years later post Independence. Something to ponder on definitely.

 

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Watch Sardar Uddham to witness Vicky Kaushal deliver a powerful performance yet again combined with Shoojit Sircar’s direction!

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