Kesari – A Review

Akshay Kumar’s latest release Kesari releases worldwide this week. Kirat Raj Singh attended the premiere of the film held in Central London and reviews the film for us here.

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. Kesari is based on the true story of Havildar Ishar Singh (played by Akshay Kumar) who was in charge of the 36th Sikhs Regiment battalion  made up of  a total of only 21 soldiers based at Fort Saragarhi on the border of India and Afghanistan.

The film begins with Ishar Singh, a true-to-the-blood Punjabi, who can never bear injustice happening anywhere. In order to save an Afghani girl, who was being assassinated by her own, Ishar turns rogue to his own British master and saves her. This leads Afghans to retaliate causing a lot of damage. Ishar then gets transferred to the fort of Saragarhi which is home to the brave 36 Sikh Regiment.

On reaching Saragarhi, Ishar witnesses how no one’s disciplined and he tries to impose his own strict ways to teach them a lesson. On a bittersweet start, the regiment accepts Ishar as their leader and they start living happily until one not-so-fine day. The Afghans unite together and decide to capture the three major forts starting from Saragarhi. 21 Sikhs led by Ishar Singh face the ruthless Afghan army of 10,000.

On paper itself, the story is a winner. However, it is the execution by Director Anurag Singh 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. By the time the battle is about to begin, we have reached the interval. 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. 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.

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 extremely well done, especially the aggression he displays during the fight sequence when he is alone surrounded by thousands of invaders. Parineeti Chopra has a brief role during the film but is leaves an impact on the few short scenes she is in.

Despite the first half being slightly longer than it should or could have been, 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.

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 to come out of Bollywood but it surely is worth your time and money.

Film rating: 3.5/5