Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Sam Bahadur Movie Review: SAM BAHADUR is a well intentioned biopic.

SAM BAHADUR is the story of India’s greatest soldier. The year is 1933. Sam Manekshaw (Vicky Kaushal) is posted in Mussoorie as a corporal in the British Indian Army. He comes across Silloo (Sanya Malhotra). Both fall in love and get married. Sam soon rises in the Army ranks thanks to his valour and no-nonsense approach. During World War II, he is posted in Burma where he fights the Japanese troops bravely. He gets shot 7 times and yet survives. During the partition, he gets an offer to join the Pakistani Army but he insists on being a part of the Indian Army. After independence, he continues to serve the army and is soon posted in Wellington, Tamil Nadu as Major General. A few years later, the Indo-China dispute erupts and this is when he comes across the future Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi (Fatima Sana Shaikh). What happens next forms the rest of the film.

Bhavani Iyer, Shantanu Srivastava and Meghna Gulzar’s story is worthy as the life of Sam Manekshaw is truly fascinating. Bhavani Iyer, Shantanu Srivastava and Meghna Gulzar’s screenplay, however, doesn’t do complete justice. A film of this kind should have numerous high points which SAM BAHADUR sadly lacks. Bhavani Iyer, Shantanu Srivastava and Meghna Gulzar’s dialogues thankfully add to the drama and humour.

Meghna Gulzar’s direction is decent. To give credit where it’s due, she makes a sincere attempt to tell the story of Sam Manekshaw. She doesn’t attempt to add unnecessary drama, action or dialoguebaazi for the heck of it. Everything in the film is there for a reason and it gives one a feeling that the director is serious about doing justice to his life story. Sam’s sense of humour was famous and this aspect is well taken care of. A few scenes are memorable like Sam’s brutal injury in Burma, Sam accused of being an anti-national and Sam’s bond with Yahya Khan (Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub). The manner in which Sam manages to fly the plane from Srinagar despite no lights is the best scene of the film.

On the flipside, the director should have added some sort of cinematic high, without compromising on other aspects. SAM BAHADUR is the biopic of an army man who has achieved so much. His life events have been dramatic and so much could have been done. Sadly, Meghna Gulzar, in the second half, chooses to simply document his life episodes without adding any cinematic value. This is pretty evident in the 1971 Indo-Pak war, which serves as the climax. It fails to give goosebumps as the audience will not realize the achievements of Sam in this battle, thanks to the execution.

Sam Bahadur – Official Trailer | Vicky Kaushal | Meghna Gulzar

Vicky Kaushal, however, doesn’t give any reason to complain. The actor gets into the skin of the character like never before and delivers the finest performance of his career. It’s also praiseworthy how he has worked on his body language and accent as well. Sanya Malhotra and Fatima Sana Shaikh, too, deliver fine performances. But they don’t have much to do. Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub is decent initially and looks unrecognizable and unconvincing in the second half. He’s wasted in the climax. Neeraj Kabi (Jawaharlal Nehru) is fine. Govind Namdev (Sardar Patel) is great but sadly, he’s there for just a scene. Shreas Pardiwala (Behruz) and the actors playing Swami, Dippy and others are fair.

Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s music is forgettable. Both ‘Badhte Chalo’ and ‘Banda’ don’t have a shelf life. ‘Itni Si Baat’, however, is well picturized. Ketan Sodha’s background score uplifts the impact to some extent.

Jay I Patel’s cinematography is neat. Subrata Chakraborty and Amit Ray’s production design is detailed. Sachin Lovelekar, Divvya Gambhir and Nidhhi Gambhir’s costumes are straight out of the bygone era. Parvez Shaikh’s action makes its presence felt and isn’t disturbing. Nitin Baid’s editing could have been sharper.

On the whole, SAM BAHADUR is a well-intentioned biopic and showcases Vicky Kaushal like never before. But it suffers due to the docudrama treatment. At the box office, the mighty opposition in the form of ANIMAL will affect its prospects to a great extent.

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