Film Review: Major

Film Review: Major

Starring: Adivi Sesh, Saiee Manjrekar, Revathi, Prakash Raj, Sobhita Dhulipala, Murli Sharma

Director: Sashi Kiran Tikka

The 26/11 terrorist attacks on India’s financial hub of Mumbai in November 2008 have inspired several cinematic retellings in recent years. This latest Sony Pictures release, simultaneously in Hindi, Malayalam and Telugu, focuses on one aspect of the tragedy as a homage to Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan in India’s elite National Security Guards (NSG), who valiantly faced off with terrorists in the siege of the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in the city.

Even as a little boy, Sandeep/Sandy (Sesh) displays a strong sense of honour and instinct to jump to the defence of anyone caught up in a vulnerable situation, much to the frustration of his doting mother (Revathi) and disciplinarian father (Raj). A visit to the naval base for a parade with his father gives this fervour a patriotic sense of purpose as he commits himself to joining the Indian Navy.

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When his eyesight lets him down in the entrance exam, a heartbroken Sandeep has all but given up on his dream when his girlfriend Isha (Manjrekar) quite accidently sets him on a different path within the country’s armed forces. Sandeep’s strong performance as an Army trainee leads him into the elite NSG squad, where he is becomes a training officer in charge of preparing young recruits for the life-threatening challenges of rescue operations in the face of deadly attacks.

As a Major, Sandeep’s single-minded focus is on his duty as a soldier in the Indian Army, charged with defending the country against seen and unseen enemy. The result of this obsession with his duty means a troubled lack of work-life balance, which leaves his passionate romance with Isha teetering on the brink of collapse as she struggles with the loneliness of being married to a workaholic army man.

‘Major’, as a biopic on the life of one of the lesser-known heroes of the Mumbai terrorist attacks, can be described as a credible tribute. The fact that this story has no happy ending makes the ride all the more poignant, even though the audience is somewhat prepared for what’s in store.

However, it is still not easy to relive the horrors of a bloody terrorist attacks – made all the more stark given its depiction of tragic real-life events. The role of India’s brash and ratings-chasing television media in wreaking further havoc during the days of siege on the Taj Hotel in Mumbai is laid bare particularly disturbingly.

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Sesh pulls off the lead character of Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan convincingly but it is the supporting roles of veterans like Revathi and Prakash Raj that truly lift this film to its tugging-at-the-heart-strings quality. Some of the high-octane stunts and lengthy romantic interludes could have been done without to keep the length and excessively jingoistic slant of this heroic tale in check.

Overall, this is a commendable homage to the heroism of India’s brave elite forces who knowingly jump into harm’s way to defend and protect at an exorbitant cost to their own near and dear ones.

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