Sardar Udham Review: Shoojit Sircar film starring Vicky Kaushal is rich in content, but falters in execution

by Asif Ali
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Movie: Sardar Udham

Sardar Udham Director: Shoojit Sircar 

Sardar Udham Cast: Vicky Kaushal, Shaun Scott, Stephen Hogan, Banita Sandhu, Kirsty Averton, Amol Parashar

Sardar Udham Movie Stars: 2.5 / 5

Shoojit Sircar is one of the most versatile filmmakers in India, having helmed a wide range of films beginning with Yahaan to Vicky Donor, Madras Cafe, Piku, and even Gulabo Sitabo, which was released last year. Besides their genres being different from each other, the treatment of each movie was unique and poignant. He has taken a similar distinctive method for his latest offering Sardar Udham, however, I am not sure if the process this time will connect with the larger audience, despite having a terrific subject in hand. 

Featuring Vicky Kaushal in the titular role, this biographical drama revolves around the life of Indian revolutionary Udham Singh, his struggles for India’s freedom, and the assassination of the former lieutenant governor of Punjab, Michael O’Dwyer. The movie begins with Singh’s release from a prison in India, and ultimately takes him to London where he assassinates O’Dwyer; gets arrested, is tortured for more information, and ultimately goes to trial, where without much of defense his death sentence is pronounced. All through the narrative, you feel for Singh, his efforts, struggles, and pain, which I think is the biggest win for the filmmaker. 

However, what doesn’t really work for me is the slow pace of the film and the almost confusing timelines. The film often shifts from one location, time, and situation to the other, which leaves you with a need of wanting to know more of the previous situation. But many of the scenes are also vaguely stretched. Few of them do leave the desired impact that the maker probably intended to establish, but the rest merely because of its length often took away the attention from the minor details in that sequence, which probably needed to be heard. That’s what I really meant with Shoojit’s process not working this time. 

To his credit, maybe the intention was to highlight the detailed journey, but in an attempt in doing so, the film starts looking more like a documentary, than a feature presentation. More than the editing table, I believe the film needed to be edited a little more at the writing stage. Screenplay writers Shubhendu Bhattacharya and Ritesh Shah fall short on that effort. Some of the dialogues penned by Shah will make you think, while with a few he also goes a little overboard in terms of the length. Cinematography by Avik Mukhopadhyay is spot on, though I feel there is a scope of improvement on the background score front. 

As far as the performances are concerned, Vicky shines in the latter part of the film, but also seems a bit lost for direction in a few sequences, especially in the first half. Amol Parashar as Bhagat Singh is phenomenal in the few scenes that he has, while Banita Sandhu also does a decent job in her limited sequences. 

Overall, Shoojit Sircar’s Sardar Udham is extremely rich in content, but poor in execution. Maybe, we lost out on a potentially great film. 

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