Shershaah (2021)

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Shershaah (2021)

Shershaah is the story of PVC awardee Indian soldier Capt. Vikram Batra, whose bravery and unflinching courage in chasing the Pakistani soldiers out of Indian territory contributed immensely in India finally winning the Kargil War in 1999.

Shershaah (2021) Trailer


Shershaah (2021) Reviews

Hot on the heels of Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl, last year’s biopic of one of the hardier combatants in the India-Pakistan conflict of 1999, mega-producer Karan Johar offers a disappointingly generic tribute to Vikram Batra, killed in the same conflict aged just 24.

Batra’s death was previously noted in 2003’s all-star LOC: Kargil, where he was played by Abhishek Bachchan, and he has clearly lodged in the Indian collective memory as a model citizen; a straight arrow willing to sacrifice all for the motherland.

Yet that very straightness proves an issue in a two-hour battle charge of a film that shuttles its practically perfect protagonist (codename: Shershaah, or “King of Lions”) from playground fisticuffs to fateful last stand, while its idea of conflict never develops beyond the childishly superficial.

For starters, this is the first time Batra has been played by someone who might pass for a model: Sidharth Malhotra, ever handsome, mostly upright, sensing he needn’t flex too hard to emerge looking like a sweetheart. As the film switches between Batra’s personal and professional lives, its star successfully runs the trickiest gauntlet: trying not to look too gawky in the shell suits of college flashbacks.

Malhotra and an unusually deglammed Kiara Advani (as Batra’s beloved, Dimple) can’t credibly resemble undergraduates, but they share a fond, tender chemistry. It’s a pity Batra’s service leave keeps being interrupted by rumbles from Kashmir – but that’s where this story’s destiny lies.

In the battle scenes, Tamil director Vishnuvardhan stages recces and shootouts with an unspectacular competence, and the most distinctive touch is applied by makeup: three stitches on Malhotra’s temple, so as not to obscure his features. The politics are far less delicate. This Batra begins as a diplomat (“If we don’t trust them, they’ll never trust us”) but the film makes him a warrior, throttling targets with their own headscarves.

The avoidance of nuance should at least spare Johar any more of the violent campaigns he attracted after casting Pakistani actor Fawad Khan in 2016’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. His latest is nothing but patriotic, but it is also rote and uninspired, right through to the final-reel rallying cries and shots of the Indian flag fluttering unsullied in the wind.


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Shershaah (2021) Credits


Shershaah (2021) Plot

Vishal Batra delivers a Ted Talk on his brother Vikram narrating the story of his life.

The young Vikram is playing cricket when he gets into a fight with elder teenage kids over a ball, revealing the fearless nature he later became known for. Vikram, watching the TV series Param Vir Chakra used to talk about his wish to join the Indian Army. His desire to join the army increases intensely as he grows up.

In his college days, Vikram, studying English as his major subject, wanted to join the Indian Navy or the Indian Army. He was selected for the Merchant Navy which made his girlfriend Dimple happy yet confused about his career. Vikram and Dimple wanted to get married, however, Dimple’s father refuses to accept Vikram because they belong to different castes. Meanwhile, Vikram realised that he was not meant for the Merchant Navy but for the Army.

He cracks CDS (Combined Defence Services) after completing his master’s degree and joins the Indian Army. Vikram was commissioned as a Lieutenant of Jammu and Kashmir Rifles and posted in Sopore of Jammu and Kashmir. He develops cordial relations with both his men and locals and takes part in counter-insurgency operations. On one such operation, he defies his CO Lt. Sanjeev “Jimmy” Jamwal but neutralises the perpetrators and saves Jimmy’s life. Jimmy reprimands his approach but gets close to him later.

The Delta Company, of which Vikram is also a part as lieutenant, catches an insurgent group’s henchman. In retaliation, the leader Haider ambushes Delta Company by luring them with intel of a weapons cache. Vikram’s friend Naib Subedar Bansi Lal is among those killed. Traumatised and vengeful, he tracks down Haider and obtains authorisation from the unit’s CO, Lt. Col. Y. K. Joshi for an operation.

Delta Company led by Vikram raids Haider’s house, killing him. Subsequently, he prepares to go on leave as unbeknownst to him the Kargil War nears.

In May 1999 at Rawalpindi, Pakistan, the Pakistani Army chief began an offensive move to capture Kashmir and sends troops to capture Kargil. As news about a potential war gains traction, Vikram decides to cut short his vacation and return. He makes promise to his friend Sunny “I’ll either come back after raising the Indian flag in victory or return wrapped in it. But I’ll come for sure.

The unit is moved to the Ghumri Army Base, as a reserve force, along with other regiments to acclimatise and prepare. The base comes under artillery fire that results in multiple casualties, including Vikram’s senior, Major Ajay Singh Jasrotia. Three weeks into the war, 13 JAK RIF is moved to active-duty to relieve 2nd Rajputana Rifles (2 RAJ RIF) and tasked with recapturing Point 5140 at 17,000 feet.

Vikram adopts the codename Shershaah and victory signal Yeh Dil Maange More, for radio communication. Jimmy and Vikram lead their companies and recapture Point 5140 without casualties, garnering praise in the army and public. During the war, Vikram gets promoted to the rank of Captain.

Following their impressive victory, the Army Command tasks 13 JAK RIF with capturing Point 4875 which overlooks National Highway 1 and would figuratively end the war.

They begin the assault on Point 4875 the next day, but take heavy casualties due to rough terrain and multiple enemy bunkers. Eventually, they destroy the four bunkers they are aware of. Unaware of a fifth camouflaged bunker, they take heavy fire. Vikram tasks Rifleman Yash Paul to use a Pakistani RPG-7 at the bunker.

A sniper however hits him before he can fire. Vikram runs across open ground to rescue him and does so successfully but is hit multiple times by both sniper and AK-47 rounds. As he collapses, he watches Subedar Raghunath Singh take command and charge at the final bunker. He dies from his injuries watching the Indian Army raise the national flag. He is posthumously awarded the Param Vir Chakra for his actions on Point 4875.

The ending shows his funeral in Palampur Kangra and a distraught Dimple. The real Vikram is also shown in the credits.


Shershaah (2021) Box office


Shershaah (2021) Critical Response

Upon release, Shershaah received positive reviews from the film critics, who praised Malhotra’s performance and the action sequences but some criticised the writing of the film. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a rating of 54% based on 13 reviews and an average rating of 5.2/10. 

Taran Adarsh of Bollywood Hungama gave the film 3.5 stars out of 5 calling Shershaah “power-packed” and wrote, “Shershaah salutes the valor, courage and bravery of Kargil war hero Captain Vikram Batra, Inspirational and emotional. A game changer for Sidharth Malhotra.

Commanding act. Unmissable!. Director VishnuVardhan narrates the story of Shershaah with utmost competency. Screenwriting is absorbing for most parts. The war sequences are executed with flourish. The finale is sure to leave you moist-eyed”. 

Anna M. M. Vetticad of Firstpost gave the film 2.75 stars out 5 opining “Captain Vikram Batra biopic is gripping as an Army procedural”, noting it as Malhotra’s best performance since Kapoor and Sons, and that “VishnuVardhan could not have found a more suitable mainstream star to join him in memorialising one of India’s favorite war heroes.”

Saibal Chatterjee of NDTV gave the film 2.5 stars by saying Malhotra “has what it takes to portray Batra with efficiency.” He concluded “The cinematic firepower and flint take Shershaah much higher – and further – as a war drama”. 

Anupama Chopra of Film Companion wrote, “The film’s clunky structure doesn’t allow it to accrue tension or exert a grip, but it comes to life in the second hour once the battle begins”. Shubhra Gupta of The Indian Express gave the film 2 stars out of 5 saying that “the Sidharth Malhotra film has neither the necessary drama inherent in a cracking war film, nor does it raise patriotic goosebumps”.

Writing for Hindustan Times, Rohan Nahaar praised the screenplay but criticised the direction stating that the “smartly choreographed action, a reverent tone, and Sidharth Malhotra’s sincere performance can’t make up for Vishnuvardhan’s uneven direction”.


Shershaah (2021) Accolades

Award[a] Date of ceremony[b] Category Recipient(s) Result
Filmfare Awards 30 August 2022 Best Film Shershaah Won
Best Director Vishnuvardhan Won
Best Screenplay Sandeep Shrivastava Nominated
Best Dialogue Nominated
Best Actor Sidharth Malhotra Nominated
Best Actress Kiara Advani Nominated
Best Music Director Tanishk Bagchi, Jasleen Royal, Javed-Mohsin, B Praak, Jaani Won
Best Lyricist Jaani – (for song “Mann Bharrya 2.0”) Nominated
Tanishk Bagchi – (for song “Raatan Lambiyan”) Nominated
Best Male Playback Singer B Praak – (for song “Mann Bharrya”) Won
Jubin Nautiyal – (for song “Raatan Lambiyan”) Nominated
Best Female Playback Singer Asees Kaur – (for song “Raatan Lambiyan”) Won
Best Cinematography Kamaljeet Negi Nominated
Best Editing A. Sreekar Prasad Won
Best Costume Design Eka Lakhani Nominated
Best Background Score John Stuart Eduri Nominated
Best Art Direction Amit Ray & Shubrata Chakraborty Nominated
Best Action Stefan Richter & Sunil Rodrigues Won
Best Special Effects Red Chillies VFX Nominated
International Indian Film Academy Awards 3–4 June 2022 Best Film Shershaah Won
Best Director Vishnuvardhan Won
Best Story (Original) Sandeep Shrivastava Nominated
Best Screenplay Won
Best Actor Sidharth Malhotra Nominated
Best Actress Kiara Advani Nominated
Best Music Director[c] Tanishk Bagchi, Jasleen Royal, Javed-Mohsin, B Praak, Jaani Won
Best Lyricist Tanishk Bagchi – (for song “Raatan Lambiyan”) Nominated
B Praak, Jaani – (for song “Mann Bharrya 2.0”) Nominated
Best Male Playback Singer Jubin Nautiyal – (for song “Raatan Lambiyan”) Won
B Praak – (for song “Mann Bharrya”) Nominated
Best Female Playback Singer Asees Kaur – (for song “Raatan Lambiyan”) Won
Jasleen Royal – (for song “Ranjha”) Nominated
Mirchi Music Awards 19 March 2022 Album of The Year Shershaah Won
Listeners’ Choice Album of the Year Nominated
Music Composer of The Year Tanishk Bagchi – (for song “Raatan Lambiyan”) Won
Jasleen Royal – (for song “Ranjha”) Nominated
Lyricist of The Year Tanishk Bagchi – (for song “Raatan Lambiyan”) Won
Jaani – (for song “Mann Bharrya 2.0”) Nominated
Anvita Dutt – (for song “Ranjha”) Nominated
Male Vocalist of The Year Jubin Nautiyal – (for song “Raatan Lambiyan”) Nominated
Female Vocalist of The Year Asees Kaur – (for song “Raatan Lambiyan”) Nominated
Song of The Year “Raataan Lambiyan” Won
“Ranjha” Nominated
“Mann Bharryaa 2.0” Nominated
Listeners’ Choice Song of the Year “Raataan Lambiyan” Nominated
“Ranjha” Nominated
“Mann Bharryaa 2.0” Nominated
Best Song Producer – Programming & Arranging Tanishk Bagchi – (for song “Raatan Lambiyan”) Nominated

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011)


Shershaah (2021) Movie Info

The life of Indian Army Capt. Vikram Batra, awarded with the Param Vir Chakra, India’s highest award for valor for his actions during the 1999 Kargil War.

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