Cinematography and Vicky Kaushal shine in artfully recreated period saga

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By Troy Ribeiro

Film: Sardar Udham (broadcast on Amazon Prime); Duration: 162 minutes.

Director: Shoojit Sircar. Actors: Vicky Kaushal, Shaun Scott, Stephen Hogan, Banita Sandhu, Kristy Averton and Amol Parashar.

Evaluation: ****

The massacre of Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar in 1919 may be an incident engraved in the memory of all Indians because of its mention in our history textbooks, but few people know the value and sacrifice of Sardar Udham Singh, an ordinary boy from the holy city, who witnessed this tragedy up close and personally.

He was haunted by the memories of that traumatic day for 21 years before taking revenge by assassinating Michael O’Dwyer, then lieutenant governor of Punjab, on whose orders General Dyer opened fire.

How Udham Singh joins Bhagat Singh’s Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA) and moves to London and there, with the help of others who are part of the revolutionary movement, including a Briton, Eileen Palmer, finally manages to shoot about O’Dwyer and his subsequent trial form the crux of this film.

The story is straightforward, although told at a languid pace, but the plot, narrated in a non-linear fashion, moves back and forth through time to establish the rationale for Udham’s resolve and to provide insight into his youth and life. his journey as a revolutionary.

The film is owned by Vicky Kaushal, who attempts the title role with subtlety and underlying ferocity, all at the same time. He is a man with a unique mission and never loses focus.

Each year of waiting to reach his goal is a struggle and he portrays that with brutal honesty – whether it’s seeking refuge under various aliases or doing odd jobs to buy time or hone skills. His body language, broken English, unbridled confidence and fearlessness, all exude the aura of a revolutionary and a freedom fighter.

Shubhendu Bhattacharya’s script is tense and well documented, highlighting several historical facts unknown to many. The era is recreated with honesty and we are transported there.

The dialogues are crisp, but punchy, especially O’Dwyer’s scathing speech at Caxton Hall before he was shot, reiterating that “It is the right and the duty of the British to rule India”. Udham Singh’s anger can be felt upon hearing these words, further strengthening his resolve.

Avik Mukhopadhyay’s cinematography is atmospheric and enriches the scenes with unparalleled brilliance. Her lens brings each image to life with frankness and the story with it. The heartbreaking scene of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre is particularly noteworthy, where the pain and pathos of the wounded and dying are palpable.

The end of the film, perhaps known to us and predictable, but the surge of patriotism and overwhelming sentiment for Udham Singh is something that Shoojit Sircar manages to elicit in every viewer. The fearless and ruthless Udham Singh, with the photograph of Bhagat Singh in his closed fist while he is still, becomes an everlasting memory.

All in all, with a runtime of 162 minutes, there are times when you feel like viewing is a little tedious.

(IANS)


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