The trailer of Akshay Kumar Kesri, based on the incident from the Battle of Saragarhi, set the premise straight when Havildar Ishwar Singh(Akshay Kumar) says, “Bahar hum se kum das hazar hai or hm ekkis.A herculean task by any stretch of imagination to win that battle but Singh could have been spelling out the formidable task that lay ahead for the film’s writers Anurag Singh and Girish Kohali as they set about encapsulating the battle of Saragarhi into the dictates of the Hindi film.
It was evident that the film based on true events from 1897 would be everything that happens to the 21 soldiers confined within the fort of Saragarhi outnumbered severely by the enemy outside.
One of the chief drawbacks of the urbane style of film-making is that in their attempt to layer stories with a subtle nuance, they lack the emotional flourish of the salt-of-the-earth flavouring required to sweep the mass audiences. Kesari takes the best of both styles and provides the story with heightened emotion that a film such as this requires. Backed with slick action and technical finesse, this one despite the barren landscape is visually rich, well justifying a theatre viewing.
Akshay Kumar shoulders the burden of pulling off this masterful telling of a folk tale with the suitable ease.He is gentle, authoritative, comic, sensitive and of course a fierce warrior all rolled in one and Kumar pulls each of with just the suitable degree of dramatic restraint.
Akshay in the film.And he pulls off, keeping that ‘kesri pagdi’ aloft till right the end, delivering thundering speeches while keeping his men’s morale up.
His Ishwar Singh is inhabited and convincing, and convincing, and it helps that his punjabi accent is completely on point.
Finally, despite its predictable arcs,the outcome which we already know, stretched out length and clear alignment with nationalistic mood of nation, we stay with the film.
Only a handful of the Indian sepoys are allowed some leeway, and they add welcome nuance to the war film. One subtext in Kesari hinges on Bhola Singh (Rakesh Sharma), a Mazhabi Sikh sepoy who never smiles. Having faced caste oppression all his life, Bhola is an unhappy loner.