Sardar Udham Review: Vicky Kaushal delivers a career-best performance as the unsung revolutionary
Director : Shoojit Sircar
Genre : Drama
Our rating :
A young Udham is seen processing the aftermath caused by one of the most terrible human tragedies to have been witnessed in world history. He is wheeling wounded but surviving souls from Jallianwala Bagh, who are hanging by a thread for dear life, after having been rained with bullets, unarmed and unwarned by a cold, brutal regime, relentless in their efforts to curb mutiny and exercise control. Udham is flummoxed between grief and aid. This painful, final act in filmmaker Shoojit Sircar's 'Sardar Udham' might linger onto your minds much after you've exited streaming the film on Amazon Prime Video.
For Sircar wants us, the average Indians living in a free nation to spare a thought for those innocent lives that were claimed without a sense of remorse from a nation that inflicted decades of slavery and imperialism upon us. He prompts us to demand an apology that is yet to be received for a horrific episode which has been reduced to a mere footnote across history textbooks, as Udham points out in a scene. 'Sardar Udham', turns out to be the rare piece of cinema to recreate the unfortunate massacre with intricate detailing with truthful depiction of the series of events that unfolded on April 13, 1919 .
Written by Shubendu Bhattacharya and Ritesh Shah, the film begins with Sardar Udham (Vicky Kaushal) carefully charting his escape from prison in India to Afghanistan and eventually entering the UK, to pursue his single-minded quest for revenge against Lieutenant Governor Michael O'Dwyer (Shaun Scott), the villain responsible for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. His procurement of the revolver, which he eventually uses to assassinate O'Dwyer, the interactions that he fosters with those who also loathe imperialism and inequality as him, the brief stint where he worked as a right-hand man to O'Dwyer, trying to decipher his motives and intent behind the massacre he initiated and his friendship and brotherhood with Bhagat Singh (Amol Parashar in a guest appearance) are skillfully mounted even though their pacing can test your patience.
But Sircar goes full-throttle in the final hour when the intent behind Sardar Udham's motives are learnt. Kaushal does such a beautiful job at expressing trauma and shock and reeling from the scars inflicted by the tragic episode which fuels the revolutionary's ultimate goal. It's a skill that the actor possesses to make grieving men appear endearing. Remember Deepak from 'Masaan'? He accords respectability to Sardar Udham's actions that were represented as an act of murder by the British regime to the global press. Watch out for him in an outstanding scene where Sardar Udham is teething under rage even as O'Dwyer defends the Jallianwala Bagh episode as a 'necessity', while nonchalantly sipping his scotch. You will feel your insides burn.
National-Award winning cinematographer Avik Mukhopadhyay's lenses, combined with the production design by Mansi Dhruv Mehta and Dmitri Malich, lend the right amount of tension and authenticity to the settings in both countries. It must be noted that at the time of O'Dwyer's assassination, both countries were bracing for the Second World War. Shantanu Moitra's poignant Background Score is haunting and immersive. Casting directors Jogi Mallang and Shakyra Dowling CSA pull in an ensemble of fine actors to make this arresting film.
'Sardar Udham' proves that you can entrust Sircar's vision to make a compelling film that refuses to fall under genres. Like the unsung revolutionary's cause which took over two decades to find fulfillment, the filmmaker's dream project, which he has been harbouring over two decades has finally found the light of the day.