‘Sardar Udham’ Review: Slow, Subtle and Matter of Factly

Sardar Udham (2021/ Historical / Biographical Drama/ Prime Video)

Director – Shoojit Sircar

Writer – Ritesh Shah, Shubhendu Bhattacharya

Cast – Vicky Kaushal, Amol Parashar, Banita Sandhu

To be very honest, I had known nothing about the revolutionary Udham Singh except that he assassinated General Dwyer to avenge the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre.

I am thankful that the film not only gives us a chance to get a deep peep and understanding of the man behind the name, but also paints such a vivid picture of that era without any exaggeration, over dramatisation or making any extra efforts to make a point. The story telling style is slow, soft, subtle and matter-of-factly.

To continue with honesty, it also seems very clear that the film makers were in no mood to compromise on the story telling style to cater to a larger audience. For quite some time now Shoojit Sircar has been on this slow movies spree doling out October, Gulabo Sitabo and now Sardar Udham. 

Being a sombre cinema lover and a period drama lover worked well for me.

The first thing that I fell in love with were the frames and the cinematography. The sepia tones, the grey moods, the dark times, the claustrophobic feel, the melancholy practically seeping from each frame, the detailing of the era, the locations, camera work, lighting, everything seemed in perfect sync to create the right mood.

Vicky Kaushal gives a very restrained performance. I think the measured actor in him knew well to hold back where any one could have given in to the lure of drama. 

Whats also appreciable is the non linear narrative style Sircar chooses, very different and unusual without giving in to tropes.

The thought provoking messages about revolution, terrorism, freedom, equality were most impressively coined. I haven’t ever seen a film about a nationalist revolutionary without any obvious on-your-face nationalism.

While I am on an honest mode today, let me confess that while I appreciated most of the the film, I found the last leg a little stretched and also difficult to handle.

Of course I understand the harsh details, the raw focus, the blood, the mess, the flesh, the pain, the groans, the repetitiveness, the horror of it all , was intentional and supposed to make a point.

As someone profoundly pointed out to me the other day, “ We have always thought of the massacre as one where thousands were killed and shot dead. This scene wakes us up to a horrifying reminder of the agony of those that struggled between life and death and the trauma of those who dealt with it, scarred for life”

While I agree that the film is not meant for all palates and audience but I firmly believe that it’s an arty and superb piece of cinema that says what it wants to convey, without making a hue and cry.

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