Vicky Kaushal, Paresh Rawal, Yami Gautam
Aditya Dhar starts his debut film with shaking up the silent patriot in us all without an overdose of jingoism. We see how the jawans are mercilessly killed on their job, which we civilians take for granted. We assume its their duty to guard the borders, often forget to give them the love and respect they deserve.
Uri: The Surgical Strike, centres around Major Vihaan Singh Shergill, an army officer who is opting for an early retirement. His desk job is awaiting him, as is his frail mother. While his seniors look up to him for his dedicated services, they are glad to see him settle into a more sedate and safer lifestyle. And then something changes; terrorists attack the Indian army leaving them with only one course of action – retaliation. Under the commands of the Prime Minister of India, the Indian army decides on a surgical strike against terrorism.
It is Vihaan who heads the mission, because no army officer could ever sit cushioned when he sees his own brother mauled at the hands of the terrorists. There is no choice to be made, the decision for Major Shergill is simple; he will be back, armed and ready to strike.
From this juncture on, the movie takes a different, pacier tone where the army prepares to strike followed by the actual surgical strike.
It is this portion that stays a lot with you, though the director Aditya Dhar has sprinkled a decent dose of drama and emotions in the film, the action sequences speak of a new age of cinema that actors like Vicky Kaushal herald. Here’s an actor who really knows how to morph from one character to another in the blink of an eye, and in this case with a few more pounds and a completely different body language each time you see him onscreen. We will go into details about Kaushal’s interpretation of Major Shergill but we must stop to give cinematographer Mitesh Mirchandani his due. Working with real light, or what seems like real light, is a huge challenge and Mirchandani delivers beautifully especially in the action sequences where the screen goes very dark in instances. The slick editing and the true-to-its-form action are the best part of the film.
There is nothing that seems over the top, okay, ‘strike’ that… perhaps there are portions where Yami Gautam does seem like a square peg in a round hole but there are others who more than make up for it, for instance there is Paresh Rawal. When Rawal signs up for a job, you can be assured that it will be done in the best way possible. With little, he does so much with his character Govind, that you cannot help but applaud. There are others like Rajat Kapur, Kriti Kulhari, Mohit Raina and others who do their parts remarkably.
However, the movie belongs only and only to Kaushal. With each film, he is slowly proving to be the tortoise who will win the race. He is not making any great moves, he is simply making his presence felt. If you see him in Uri, you won’t see the Pakistani army officer of Raazi at all. That’s his charm, two people, both from the military but his vision of both are poles apart, which tells you what a phenomenal actor he is. He gives Uri its stature and finesse.
There is nothing taking away from Aditya Dhar and his work in handling an ensemble cast. He excels but while the movie and the action looks slick, some characters from across the border look like borderline buffoons, though he has consciously avoided jingoism, there are some dialogues that are terribly expressed. So Dhar wins some and loses few but the film remains a must-watch, at least once.