Uri: The Surgical Strike Movie Review - Sparks fly, quite literally!

Updated: May 12, 2019, 12:54 IST | Mayank Shekhar | Mumbai

No better actor to lead this charge than the fully fired-up Vicky Kaushal menacingly calm as a military mind - inspiring his peers, with an infectious energy that is impossible to resist.

Vicky Kaushal in a still from the trailer
Vicky Kaushal in a still from the trailer

Uri: The Surgical Strike
U/A: Action, Drama
Cast: Vicky Kaushal, Yami Gautam, Paresh Rawal
Director: Aditya Dhar
Rating: Ratings

Like with several others, you may not find a single bloodthirsty, jingoistic-militaristic bone in my body. And yet, there's a scene in this film, focused on a little girl, whose father, an officer, has just died in the recent attacks on the Army base in Uri. She walks up to the casket, surrounded by soldiers in attention, at his state funeral.

The moment freezes for a second. The little child, rather unexpectedly, exults the regiment's war cry. Soldiers instantly respond. Emotions naturally heighten. It's hard not to feel a lump in your throat.

This is the sort of visceral 'josh' that the film organically excites, which makes it work, almost through and through. And yet, for a movie wholly centred on a mission and the military, it is a rare desi one—Sankalp Reddy's under-rated The Ghazi Attack (2017), being another recent exception—that never meanders from the actual minefield: Not a minute wasted on sundry peripherals, songs, love-story, and the like, that most Hindi war films (Border, LOC Kargil, Lakshya included) have had to resort to, in order to fit into a more mainstream, Bollywood format.

But, first, let's settle the apprehension that many might rightly share: Is this a propaganda picture? In so much as it places to the extreme fore the might and valour of unsung heroes of Indian Army, who risk their lives in covert operations, details of which, for reasons of state secrecy, go unreported? Sure. And that's pretty much true for all patriotic, war movies, regardless.

But, no: Is it a propaganda film for the BJP government, few months before the general elections, seeking credit for a military operation initiated/executed under its watch? Well, the magnanimous Prime Minister modeled on Narendra Modi (Rajit Kapur) is very much omnipresent. Which, going by trailers and posters of late, he's likely to be, on the big screen, over the following months, with several films based on/around him—bit like a super-hero from the Marvel/DC universe!

The PM is well represented along with his cabinet, given lookalikes of Parrikar, Jaitley, Rajnath Singh, and the hand-picked National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, played by BJP MP Paresh Rawal, as a shrewd, sharp sleuth, right at the centre of the high-table, leading the military operation from a snazzy war-room.

Check out the trailer here:

Whether this story "based on true events," liberally mixing fact with fiction, has been actively sponsored by the government or not; can tell you this, they will like what they see. Folk on the Pakistani side though come across as total 'phateechars', ever willing to sell their soul and their nation's secrets. Either way, what the endorsement from the Indian Army (its publicity wing is prominently credited) evidently earns for the pic is incredible access to top-notch military hardware, hitherto unseen in the history of Hindi films.

Supremely competent first-time director Aditya Dhar uses these weapons—sophisticated machine guns, grenades, rocket launchers, top-grade fighter aircraft—to hit home with a winning plot, over two hours, 10 minutes of stunningly shot (Mitesh Mirchandani), non-stop, military-action drama, packed with pyrotechnics that appear authentic, world-class, technically kickass.

Background score (Shashwat Sachdev) is pitch-perfect. Some of the combat sequences (Stefan Richter) are sensational. Sparks fly, quite literally; even as sentiments are firmly in place, to keep you engaged with the characters, and their emotional motivations.

Yeah, it's hard to evoke both. No better actor to lead this charge than the fully fired-up Vicky Kaushal (Raazi, Sanju, Love Per Square Foot, Manmarziyaan, Lust Stories)—bulked up like a sniper, menacingly calm as a military mind—inspiring his peers (Yami Gautam, Kriti Kulhari etc) in the film, and patrons in the theatre, with an infectious energy that is impossible to resist. Kaushal's had a phenomenal 2018. Clearly, the dream run continues.

The film is primarily set in 2016. The basic premise is known. It concerns a top-secret, low-intensity, shock-and-awe assault, or a surgical strike, on hideouts in Pak-occupied Kashmir, responsible for terror attacks across the border—more specifically, by four militants, allegedly of the group Jaish-e-Mohammed, on the Indian Army brigade headquarters in Uri, near the Line of Control, less than a fortnight before.

Very little—next to nothing—is known about these 'surgical strikes'. How does this revenge operation pan out in the picture, then? Given multiple Abbottabads being mounted, a lot like a desi Zero Dark Thirty (2012)—Katherine Bigelow's brilliant docu-drama detailing capture of Osama bin Laden. As compliments go, that's as huge as it gets. No?

Also Read: Watch video: Vicky Kaushal gives us a sneak peek into his prep for Uri

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