In our Sam Bahadur review, we talk about how in a plethora of real-life hero biopics, this one is surely not the one that’ll linger on your mind for too long!
Sam Bahadur review: There are very few people in this world whose life stories do not even feel real! One such hero of the Indian army, Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw’s life is also one of them. Meghna Gulzar’s latest, Sam Bahadur revolves around the adventures and triumphs of the defense hero not many of us knew about. Vicky Kaushal plays the titular role but it’s not like he’s never had experience in this genre before. He has played men with a mission to save the country previously as well in Uri: The Surgical Strike and Sardar Uddham. With this film, he just adds to the fact that he has truly mastered this genre.
In the 2 hours and 40 minutes of Sam Bahadur, we see a phenomenon who begins his journey as a soldier during the British empire, survives after being shot 9 times by a Japanese soldier in WWII, leads the Indo-Pak war in 1971, is a good husband and an honest adviser to his Prime Ministers. It covers his whole life right up until his retirement. Vicky strikes an uncanny resemblance to the Field Marshall, not just in the way he looks but also in the way he interacts with his fellow soldiers, his wit, and the way he walks. Sam Manekshaw was tough on the battlefield, a great leader to his troops but a charming man in his personal life. He could be literally dying after being shot but when asked how he feels, he replies saying, "I'm Okay" which is his answer to any problem in his life, no matter how big. Sanya Malhotra plays Sillo Bode, Sam Manekshaw’s wife. She does a good job at playing the typical army wife who is ready to move along with her husband to the next posting whilst being supportive. Fatima Sana Sheikh who plays Indira Gandhi fails to strike any resemblance to such an iconic figure from our history. Her acting feels like a caricature of the Prime Minister. And so do so many of the characters around Vicky Kaushal.
While he does his best as the main character to push the story forward, it is the story indeed that pulls him back. Biopics are tricky to portray as a genre. There’s so much to explore, so much that needs to be shown and then there’s also cinematic liberty that filmmakers can take. But even after an amalgamation of all of this, it’s not written or made in a way where it leaves you flabbergasted. In fact it is the cinematography during the combat and the close up shots of the Field Marshal’s ocean blue eyes that give you goosebumps. The songs in the film too were quite loud and unnecessary for a narrative like this and could’ve easily been played as the background score only.
The film shows different decades in Sam Manekshaw’s life and they use makeup and prosthetics to show him gradually aging. While they get Sam Bahadur’s part spot-on, his Pakistani counterpart on the other hand, Yahya Khan (Mohd Zeeshan Ayyub) gets prosthetics that you can clearly understand are fake which makes it difficult for you to take him seriously at all. But Meghna Gulzar who previously directed Raazi, which was also her first collaboration with Vicky Kaushal, still keeps one thing intact in both her films - the humor. Even in the midst of such serious and sensitive topics, she manages to seamlessly sneak in a joke or two without it being too in the face either.
Overall, Sam Bahadur might not be the best patriotic film out there. Neither does it serve as an unforgettable or tear jerking experience. But it sure is a one time watch because of the effort that Vicky puts in as an actor!
Sam Bahadur is currently streaming at a theatre near you!
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