‘SARDAR UDHAM’ REVIEW | 16 October, 2021

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Rising Sun Films and Kino Works’ Sardar Udham (UA), as the title suggests, is the story of revolutionary Sardar Udham Singh whose contribution to the Indian freedom struggle was not small although not many people know about it.

Sardar Udham (Vicky Kaushal) becomes a revolutionary in the true sense of the term when he sees scores of Indians massacred and hundreds grievously wounded at the Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar, where they had assembled on 13th April, 1919 to protest against the Rowlatt Act. Lt. Governor of Punjab Michael O’Dwyer (Shaun Scott) was then at the helm of affairs. He had asked General Reginald Dyer (Andrew Havill) to take his decisions and stop the protest any which way. General Dyer had, in turn, asked the armymen to fire at the unsuspecting Sikhs who had assembled there for a peaceful protest against the Act. Udham had saved the lives of the wounded people by single-handedly rushing them to a hospital. It is because he had seen Death from such close quarters that the seeds of revenge against the British in general and Michael O’Dwyer in particular were sown in his mind. He fulfilled his mission of killing Dwyer after 21 years.

The story, based on pages of history and extensive research (by Tushar Sheetal Singhal and Bhargav Oza; research consultant: Oshun Banerji), has been written by Shubendu Bhattacharya. It is an interesting story about which many are not aware. Having said that, it must be added that the story in the first half, should’ve been far more crisp as it tends to greatly bore the audience with its slow pace. The screenplay, written by Shubendu Bhattacharya and Ritesh Shah, is good but, like the story, it suffers from the defect of too much detailing in the first half and too slow a pace. The pace definitely picks up after interval, especially when the Jallianwala Bagh massacre and its aftermath start. That portion is a wonderfully scripted human drama which shakes the viewers. However, the boring first half is a very big sore point. Ritesh Shah’s dialogues are very realistic.

Vicky Kaushal lives the role of Sardar Udham Singh. He looks and plays the character excellently and makes a fine place for himself in people’s hearts. He has worked hard on his looks, gait, voice modulation, etc. and the efforts are praiseworthy. Banita Sandhu expresses beautifully through her eyes and hence stands out even though she has a tiny role. Shaun Scott is very effective as Michael O’Dwyer. Stephen Hogan leaves a mark as detective inspector Swain. Amol Parashar stands out in a special appearance as Bhagat Singh. Kirsty Averton has her moments as Eileen Palmer. Andrew Havill is good as General Reginald Dyer. Ritesh Shah (as Koppikar), Jogi Mallang (as Surat Ali), Kuljeet Singh (as S.S. Johal), Tushar Sheetal Singhal (as informer of Udham Singh), Sarfaraz Alam Safu (as interpreter at Scotland Yard), Andrei Tolshin (as the main government spokesman), Sergei Mazurenko (as senior minister), Manas Tiwari (as Nihal Singh), Tatiana Nikitina-Verkhovskaia (as Michael O’Dwyer’s wife), Liubov Firsova (as the Russian neighbour), Artur Kharitonenko (as the factory supervisor), Tim Berrington (as John Hutchison), Tim Hudson (as Winston Churchill), Richard Glover (as the public prosecutor), Nicholas Gecks (as Justice Atkinson), and the many other actors lend very good support.

Shoojit Sircar’s direction and eye for detailing deserve praise. He has made an extremely authentic film but having said that, it must be added that his extremely slow narrative pace will irritate the masses and restrict the film’s appeal mainly to the class and city audience. His recreation of an era gone by is remarkable. Shantanu Moitra’s background music is fantastic. The background score in the aftermath of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre is especially terrific. Avik Mukhopadhayay’s cinematography is wonderful. Action scenes and stunts (by Manohar Verma and Aleksandra Baranov) are exciting and thrilling. Production designing (by Mansi Dhruv Mehta and Dmitri Malich) is excellent. Chandrashekhar Prajapati’s editing is sharp.

On the whole, Sardar Udham is a wonderfully made film but its pace in the first half and too many English dialogues will restrict its appeal to the class audience. Since it has released only on an OTT platform, it will find praise from people who love historicals. But the general masses will not have the patience for such a lengthy and slow film.

The film released on 16-10-’21 on Amazon Prime Video.