'Uri' movie review: A war film with a difference
Thankfully, the movie doesn't show soldiers sitting in a circle and getting emotional reading letters from their family.
A film about a soldier, fighting for his country, and leading a highly-secretive mission to eradicate terrorists is bound to have heavy doses of patriotism. But that is where 'Uri: The Surgical Strike' creates a difference.
Our hero is Major Vihaan Shergill (Vicky Kaushal), head of the special forces in the Indian Army. He specialises in creating and executing fool-proof strategies. The movie begins with an attack on the Indian army in northeast India. To avenge the attack, the government puts together a team lead by Shergill.
After the success of this mission, Shergill plans an early retirement, to be with his mother suffering from Alzheimer's. When he meets the Indian prime minister (modelled around Narendra Modi), he tells him: Desh bhi toh humari maa hai (even the country is our mother). This is one of the few patriotic dialogues you will hear, but overall, the film distances itself from being too jingoistic.
The film belongs to Vicky Kaushal whose portrayal as an army officer is very realistic. Never does he go over-the-top with his acting and he delivers a nuanced performance as he boosts the morale of his team. He can strategise, punch and engage in a brawls with the enemy when needed, and yet stand tall to lead his troops. When you hear him say, "How is the josh?" and the troops reply, "High, sir", you can't help but join them.
Apart from building up the circumstances which led to the surgical strike by India in September 2016, the first half of the movie primarily focuses on the personal lives of the soldiers. It is welcoming to see that writer/director Aditya Dhar doesn't indulge in the usual drill of showing soldiers sitting in a circle, getting emotional while reading letters and then breaking into a nostalgic song. The soldiers in this film lead a life as normal as ours and yet fight the enemy on the border.
Surprisingly, for a film that is based on a surgical strike, we don't see much bloodshed on the screen - even when Vihaan pushes a knife into a terrorist. What we get to see is a close-up of Vihaan's face, rather than the brutal act. Apart from that, Dhar gives us a real feel of the mission, complete with grenades, machine guns and high-tech night vision goggles and surveillance drones. The technology might seem a bit far-stretched in some parts, but it is the underlying emotion and passion in the movie that will engulf you.
Vihaan's family is well cast. Captain Karan Kashyap (Mohit Raina) is a daring and skilled shooter, married to Vihaan's sister (Manasi Parekh). Their adorable eight-year-old daughter is feisty and wants to be an army officer. Inspired by a real-life incident, a scene in the film involving the mother-daughter duo will give you goosebumps. Dhar manages to move you, stir you inside out, without engaging in nationalism.
Paresh Rawal who plays the National Security Advisor, Govind sir, is as reliable as always. He takes informed decisions, powered by the intelligence team and is measured in his delivery. He believes in technology (a welcome change) and becomes one of the reasons behind the victory as he spots an innovation by an intern.
Pallavi Sharma (Yami Gautam) who is part of the intelligence team does what is expected of her, but tends to fade into the background. In an interrogation scene, she seems very superficial rather than forceful, which is what her character demands. The other leading lady, Jaskeerat (Kirti Kulhari) is an Indian Air Force pilot and eager for a chance to prove her patriotism. She looks determined but has a part smaller than desired.
Although the film is based on a highly-publicised event, the director manages to keep us on tenterhooks, right from the moment the army starts its mission in the second half. Your heart pounds with tension as small teams of army men venture into unknown, foreign territories to take on the terrorists. Add to that, Vihaan's promise of 'no casualties' and you end up rooting for the team's safety. The film is intense, entertaining and ends up being a war film with a difference.
Cast: Vicky Kaushal, Mohit Raina, Paresh Rawal, Rajit Kapoor, Yami Gautam, Kirti Kulhari.
Directed by: Aditya Dhar