Film Review: Sardar Udham

Film Review: Sardar Udham

Director: Shootjit Sircar

Starring: Vicky Kaushal, Banita Sandhu, Amol Parashar, Stephen Hogan, Shaun Scott, Sam Retford

Films set in the backdrop of pre-independent British-ruled India will always be a tear-jerking affair for every Indian born yesterday, today and tomorrow. Sircar’s latest biopic ‘Sardar Udham’, now streaming on Amazon Prime, pays tribute to the revolutionary’s poise heroism.

Freedom; Equality; Humanity. Udham had been desperately questioning slavery alongside political martyr Bhagat Singh. Subtracting the flamboyant dialogues, Sircar rolls the cameras through Udham’s scorched mind, silently spilling his courage to the audience. Fragmenting the film with flashbacks from the traumatic night of 13th April 1919.

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A young Udham (Kaushal) with an oil lamp in his hand running through the dim-lit alleys in the walled city of Amritsar – women, children and men lying dead all around. With fear in his eyes, he scavenges through the piles of bodies to save the wounded after the dreadful massacre of a peaceful gathering. Unarmed and unaware of having to face the imperial bullets on their chests helmed by Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer and Governor of Punjab, Michael O’Dwyer at the Jallianwala Bagh.

From a man who couldn’t even hold a gun before to assassinating O’Dwyer, Udham took the opportunity of the chaotic airs in Britain during wartime to awaken fellow Indians against colonial oppression. Pinning the narrative around the Scotland Yard investigation, Sircar traces Udham’s moves of visiting Dyer’s grave and performing odd jobs at the O’Dwyer household that eventually lead to his act of protest at the Caxton Hall.

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The remarkable intensity with which Kaushal plays the role with pain, trauma and a disturbed heart does not go unnoticed. The glee on his face upon arrest matches perfectly with the satisfaction that perhaps Udham himself must have felt on that day. Parashar’s elegance is precisely reflected in his fair portrayal of Bhagat Singh while Sandhu’s character of Udham’s love interest could not have gone better.

For viewers of historical non-fiction, which can never be entirely devoid of fictionlised elements, there is much going for this film.

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