Sidharth Malhotra, the star of the upcoming Amazon Prime Video Original Shershaah, has revealed that the inspiration for taking on the role as the heroic Captain Vikram Batra came from a meeting with Vikram’s real-life twin brother, Vishal Batra, five years ago.
Shershaah, an original war drama on the true-life events of the Kargil War between India and Pakistan in 1999, tells the story of Captain Vikram Batra, a celebrated Indian army hero who selflessly lost his life whilst saving a fellow soldier during a war which would etch itself into Indian history. At just 24, Vikram became a symbol of the patriotism and heroism associated with India’s triumph against the odds against the Pakistani army who took up a far more advantageous position at higher ground and were able to fire down at vulnerable Indian forces. Despite this, the Indian army were triumphant in claiming victory and Captain Vikram soon became the embodiment of the courage and valor shown by himself and his army.
Lead actor Sidharth Malhotra was aged just 14 when the Kargil War took place, yet the story of Captain Vikram’s sacrifice would go on to inspire him to spearhead efforts to launch a film on his efforts over twenty years on. A meeting with Captain Vikram’s twin brother, Vishal Batra, was instrumental in the star’s rigorous attempts to have a film on the Kargil War told across the world. Sidharth met with Vishal and was told of Captain Vikram’s incredible personality, courage, patriotism, and of course about the selflessness which would eventually see him lose his life for his country – something he says inspired him greatly.
“I first met with Vishal Batra around five years ago, at the time with a completely different team. He and his family had approached me to discuss the potential of telling Vikram’s story and I must say I was immediately gripped emotionally by the way Vishal described Vikram’s life and his character – his charm, his courage, and his all-round personality”, said Sidharth.
Vishal Batra shares, “When we met Sidharth for the first time we felt he had a lot of similarities with Vikram. During the course of our interaction with him, we found out that he was a very good human being, very humble, passionate, and a loving guy. Hence we thought he was a perfect choice to play Vikram’s role.”
“We couldn’t make it work at the time, but it was a story I believed needed to be told. I approached Dharma Productions and they were immediately onboard and 5 years on we are so pleased with the end product”, he added.
Maintaining a sense of authenticity and justice to Vikram’s story was important for Sidharth, who admits there is always a sense of pressure when it comes to portraying the character of a national hero in a sensitive way: “Vikram and I are both Punjabi and culturally, of course, we have several similarities, perhaps right through to our appearance. I believe this is why his family sought me to play his character. But it is one thing possessing the physical and background traits and another to accurately portray his personality. I feel meeting with Vishal helped with this greatly – the descriptions he used about his twin were incredible, it really helped me to take on some of his courage and strength.”
Talking about Sidharth Malhotra’s performance Vishal Batra shares, “Since this is the first time Sidharth is playing the role of a real character in his career, I believe it was very important for him to get into the skin of the character. Since Vikram is generally known as the Shershaah, it was important for Sidharth to see the other side of Vikram’s life, as a student, as a soldier, as an army officer, and definitely as a brother and a son. Sidharth did a lot of hard work in understanding Vikram to the entirety. He interacted a lot with his friends, family members, and personally with me to understand Vikram’s character, and I believe he has done a wonderful job and people will really love the action he has done in the movie.”
Having formed a relationship with Vikram’s family, and his brother, in particular, Sidharth was pleased to hear that they felt the film was the perfect representation for his legacy: “Doing his family proud was the priority for me, not a commercial success. We’ve been on this five-year journey together and It was vital we got this right. Vishal told me that he had never visualised his brother on the battlefield before, but now when he sees me in Shershaah he can”, concluded Sidharth.
Check out this BTS look into his transformation
Directed by Vishnu Varadhan, Shershaah is inspired by the life of Captain Vikram Batra (PVC) and stars Sidharth Malhotra and Kiara Advani in the lead along with Shiv Panditt, Raj Arjun, Pranay Pachauri, Himanshu Ashok Malhotra, Nikitin Dheer, Anil Charanjeett, Sahil Vaid, Shataf Figar, and Pawan Chopra in pivotal roles. Jointly produced by Dharma Productions and Kaash Entertainment, Shershaah will premiere across 240 countries and territories on 12th August 2021 exclusively on Amazon Prime Video.