On September 12, 1897, ten thousands of ‘Afghani Tribesmen ‘ attacked’ a British check post ‘Saragarhi’, guarded by 21 solders of 36 Sikh Infantry. The victory for ‘Afghans’ was very crucial on the same day so that they could capture two other check posts on the same day afternoon before Britishers could send in their reinforcements to defend the other two. When you Google for the Bravest Battles ever fought in the history. ‘The Battle of Sargarhi’ will figure on the top ones
What ‘Afghans’ thought was a cakewalk, turned out to be a lesson of bravery, courage & sacrifice of the 21 solders & went down in the annals of history. These ‘Sikh Solders’ managed to kill 900 of enemy & defend the fort till evening, before being martyred.
Although a True Life event, as expected ‘Kesari’ also relies heavily on fiction as history cannot be recreated exactly & moreover the ‘Masala’ has to be added, keeping the viewers interest in mind. Directed by ‘Anurag Singh’ [ his debut in Hindi cinema], it has all the ingredients in the right places, but the second half which has only battle scenes, it drags a bit.
‘Havaldar Ishwar Singh’ [ superbly enacted by Akshay] is sent as an in charge of ‘Saragarhi fort’ as a punishment for being disobedient to his British officer. Here, he runs into 21 solders of Sikh regiment, totally unruly & devoid of any discipline. How, he manages to turn them into a brave, courageous fighting unit, forms the crux of the story. There is some dry humor & some emotional scenes as all of these solders have their own stories. The only star in the film is ‘Akshay’ & he carries the film on his broad shoulders, never a false note of his performance, his uniform, his swagger, his sense of humor, his patriotism are a treat to watch. He is probably the only actor who in the recent times will go any lengths to get under the skin of the role.
There is ‘Parneeti Chopra’, as the wife in a cameo,where she appears in ‘Ishwar Singh’ imagination only. There is no other known actor in the film & kudos to the director who manages to bring out the best in all the newcomers. The film is beautifully photographed & very well edited, our verdict is 4 out of 5 stars.