“Sam Bahadur Captures Manekshaw’s Charisma In Spurts” – A Subhash K Jha Review

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Sam Bahadur

Was Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw anything like Vicky Kaushal? Yes, and no. While Vicky Kaushal does capture some of Field Marshal’s gregarious charm, much of the original’s vitality gets lost in translation.

While we cannot fault Meghna Gulzar for her research work, much of the screenplay feels like the Wikipedia page on Manekshaw. We can close our eyes and listen to the narrative descriptions and know exactly what is happening on screen.

Visually, the film is eye catching but lacking that ‘epic’ quality that separates the men from the boys in an army battalion. What comes across is Sam’s unflagging spirit, his unwavering commitment to being an Indian without having to prove it with flagwaving.

Vicky Kaushal, a reasonably talented actor, is not equal to the task on hand. He tries hard to echo the original’s three Bs—bravery, benevolence and bravado. But mimicking the original doesn’t quite amount to a comprehensive character creation. Kaushal conveys a measured charm, but Manekshaw, he ain’t. Sorry.

Sanya Malhotra as the Field Marshal’s beloved wife Silloo doesn’t look Parsi. The performance is lackluster, to say the least. But then she can’t be blamed. Like all soldiers’ wives she has grumble about her absentee husband and smirk when the phone rings, ‘Wahi hogi’. Wahi, being Mrs Gandhi.

Worse still is Fatima Sana Sheikh’s Indira Gandhi. With her squeaky voice and diminutive presence she cuts a sorry figure. What works rather well is the synergy between Manekshaw and Mrs G. There is an understated chemistry between the two which Meghna Gulzar is able to bring to the screen in spite of the two actors playing the two imposing personalities being anything but imposing.

Meghna Gulzar shoots some rare character-defining moments in Manekshaw’s personal interactions with Gurkha soldiers or that wonderful rapport he shares with his grumbling bullying South Indian cook . In such intimate moments Vicky Kaushal captures the humanism of a man who valued the sovereignty of our country but also loved his time off with Biwi, rum , dancing and flirting.

Our Rating

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