‘Sam Bahadur’ Review | Where’s the ‘josh’

The high point or brownie winner is the built-up of the title character to look entertaining right through the film without becoming a caricature.

Sam Bahadur is a biographical war drama based on the life of India’s first Field Marshal, Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw. Is it coincidence or planned but RSVPs two films around the same time are war films – Pippa and Sam Bahadur. Both films present same historical events but from different perspectives, set around the backdrop of the 1971 Indo-Pakistan War and Bangladesh’s liberation when Sam Manekshaw led the Indian Army from the front.

While ‘Pippa’ refers to a battle tank and that’s that, Sam Bahadur is more of a docu-feature. For those who would expect yet another URI from a Sam Bahadur might be disappointed. Having said so, for many, just watching Vicky Kaushal as Sam Bahadur might be satisfying.

The film chronicles life of General Sam Manekshaw, the first general of the modern Indian army to be made a field marshal; he was awarded this honorary rank in 1973, at the end of his four years as chief of army staff. His career lasted almost four decades, saw five wars, and culminated in his successful masterminding of the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971.

‘Sam Bahadur’ is not URI which had elements of action, thrill and the patriotic ‘josh’. Honestly speaking, Sam Bahadur is a medal in the career of URI hero Vicky Kaushal, who gets to play the title character. Most of the efforts seem to be put into creating that smart Sam with a twinkle in his eyes and an obvious moustache and the head always ahead of the body. What is clearly evident from the screenplay is that Vicky is directed to walk in a particular fashion, talk and behave to give the feel of the war hero.

Sam Manekshaw’s charismatic personality and dazzling career through Meghna Gulzar helmed biopic focuses on the highlights of his personal and professional life. Sam Manekshaw was a charismatic figure. His valour was unquestioned and his men looked upon him. The only one who keeps standing tall right through the film is Vicky Kaushal as Sam Mankeshaw. This could prove to be Vicky’s most challenging roles, and he plays it to perfection. Vicky Kaushal looks pleasing as Sam and steals the scenes with his presence.

Sam Bahadur chronicles his life while he was still at the Military Academy. Soon he falls for the pretty girl Silloo (Sanya Malhotra) and they get married. While various stories about his conquests are narrated, his stint in Burma during the World War II sees him grievously wounded, but he survives. The British had laid the grounds for the bloody partition, and a divided Army. Even as his friend Yahya Khan (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub) chooses to stay behind in what became Pakistan, Manekshaw was sure where his allegiance lay.

Sam played a decisive role in the 1971 war with his strategies helping PM Indira Gandhi (Fatima Sana Shaikh). The film shows her as a leader who is not afraid to take tough decisions, but the same cannot be said about her father Pandit Nehru (Neeraj Kabi) who is, in many instances, shown to be less confident / indecisive. His very personality kills the character including his weak voice modulation.

Sam Bahadur features a few other key figures in the form of anecdotes / small incidences, including Sardar Patel (Govind Namdeo) but they do not come off as impactful as they should have. The same can be said for the film, as a whole.

Meghna Gulzar’s ‘Raazi’ with Alia Bhat had great cinematic elements to talk about but ‘Sam Bahadur’ pans out like a series of anecdotes in the form of historical information. Unfortunately the writing is flat for a biopic that had the potential of becoming an iconic reference point of one of the greatest of service men. Director Richard Attenborough’s ‘Gandhi’ was also a historical biopic and it still gives us goosebumps with its story telling.

The only high point or a brownie winner from a critic point of view is the built-up of the title character to look entertaining right through the film without becoming a caricature.

Movie: Sam Bahadur
Directed by: Meghna Gulzar
Cast: Vicky Kaushal, Sanya Malhotra, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Neeraj Kabi, Edward Sonnenblick, Govind Namdev
Duration: 2hrs 30mins


The high point or brownie winner is the built-up of the title character to look entertaining right through the film without becoming a caricature.
Nitin Jain
Nitin Jainhttps://www.glamsham.com
Nitin Jain is glamsham.com publisher and editor and writes exclusive topical articles and also doubles up as film critic. The author can be contacted on editor-at-glamsham-dot-com or on @nitinnsethi on twitter and instagram.

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