Film Review : Kesari
Kesari reminds me of ‘300’ by Zack Snyder, about 300 Spartans who valiantly fought with 300,000 Persian Soldiers.
Here, 21 Sikh soldiers fought against approx 10,000 Afghans in the famous Battle of Saragarhi of 1897. The film is titled “Kesari” after the saffron turban that the film’s protagonist Havaldar Ishar Singh sports. It is the color of his martyrdom, and of his fierce sacrifice.
But while Kesari has some heart-tugging moments. There are a few thrilling battle scenes powered by the sincerity of its leading man. The film rests on a slow screenplay that is guilty of too much characterization.
Part of the problem is that it’s a one-man show for Akshay Kumar. It is apparent that the writers have very little interest in developing other characters. The drama is predictable, some action scenes go on too long, and as a result, the film is unmistakably tiring.
The Director of the movie is Anurag Singh who has made National Award-winning film Punjab 1984. The movie is fictional, ‘Bollywood’ retelling of the Saragarhi battle that is worth remembering even today.
He builds a narrative around the Bravehearts of the 36th Sikh Regiment of the British Army. It is the regiment that earned the Order of Merit from the British government for their valor. The premise has enough story to it, but the film’s plotting is weak.
The first half is especially slow despite a strong opening. A fundamentalist cleric declares war, drumming up support from other Afghan chieftains in the name of religion and jihad.
Meanwhile, The British officers banish Singh and post him at the fort of Saragarhi. The 36th regiment is also there and is in a mess, they while away their time in rooster fights.
Singh straightens out and instills discipline in his regiment. He trains them so that they can fight as a united team in the film’s second half.
To be fair, some of the dialogue is entertaining. The scenes between Singh and his wife (Parineeti Chopra) who he has left behind are absolutely unbearable. Even though these scenes are few, they deaden the pace of the film.
The film should have been given an ‘A’ rating instead of ‘U/A’ as it is full of violence. On the whole, the film is predictable and lengthy. Writing and editing could have been better. The movie is very lengthy and becomes boring. It is a 3 for me.