Touted as the bravest battle ever fought, it took Bollywood aeons to display the battle of Saragarhi on the big screen, but, as they say, better late than never. Directed by Anurag Singh, Kesari is about Hawaldar Ishar Singh (Akshay Kumar) who, along with his battalion of 20 soldiers, braves the army of 10,000 invaders. On paper itself, the story is a winner. However, it is the execution by Anurag Singh that falls short of making it an epic action extravaganza.
The first half of the film is too long and for the most part, it is inconsequential. The movie wastes a lot of time and yet it doesn’t build any character up, except for Akshay Kumar’s Ishar Singh. In all the promotional materials, it was made quite clear that the movie is about 21 Sikh soldiers holding the Saragarhi fort against 10,000 invaders but we come to that point towards the interval point. And by that time the makers have wasted more than an hour. In short, the first half of the film tests your patience.
Having said that, the second half more than makes up for it as you finally get to see what you wanted to – the epic battle of Saragarhi. In fact, it is commendable that the makers kept the second half only about the battle and nothing else, but I so wished they’d have trimmed the first half by at least 30 minutes.
The battle sequences, which comprises of almost whole of the second half, are a riot. The action choreography is good. And the action sequences have been executed well.
The cinematography is beautiful, though one can clearly see that most of it is a green screen. Also, bad CGI can be clearly seen during several blasts scenes. In fact, the stabbing scenes too feel unreal at times. How I wish makers had spent some money on the VFX of the film.
The editing is weak and the screenplay is shoddy in the first half. The background score is fantastic. The texture of the film is good too.
Talking about the performances, most of the characters have acted well be it the foreigners, the invaders or the soldiers. But, overall, it is a one-man show. Akshay Kumar is the heart and soul of the film. His performance is really good. Watch out for the aggression he displays during the fight sequence when he is alone surrounded by thousands of invaders. If not for him, the movie would’ve fallen flat. Parineeti Chopra is fine in her brief role.
Despite all its flaws, the movie will choke you up by the end and you will find yourself shedding tears remembering those 21 brave souls. The song Teri Mitti in the climax will hit you right in the feels. So, I would suggest taking some tissue papers with you for sure, you’ll need it.
Overall, Kesari is an emotional action fest that will resonate with those who love action films and with Akshay Kumar fans. It may not be the best patriotic film (or an action film) to come out of Bollywood but it surely is worth your time and money.