Films

‘Kesari’ review: Though apparently biggest opener, this Akshay Kumar film is a loud, violent dampener 

When will Akshay Kumar realise that the excessive dose of jingoism in his films has now become predictable and too cumbersome? He is now becoming like Manoj Kumar aka Bharat Kumar of yesteryear films

Pragati Saxena

So, according to the director Anurag Singh, the 21 brave Sikhs fought the 10,000 Afghan soldiers just to prove to Britishers that Indians are brave!! When will Akshay Kumar realise that the excessive dose of ‘nationalistic’ patriotism in his films have now become too predictable and cumbersome. He is now becoming more like yesteryear’s Manoj Kumar aka Bharat Kumar, babbling ‘Deshbhakti’ rhetorically, signifying nothing. But well, post Pulwama, it has become rather easy to cash in on our people’s insecurities and fears by inciting easy and impressive jingoistic nationalism.

And then comes the definition of ‘Kesari’ (saffron). You can very well understand why. Bollywood’s new-found love for the colour saffron has been quite evident lately. But what irritates one more is the wrong interpretation of it. A particular party has been doing it for years politically and now Bollywood is doing it culturally. Saffron stands stands for Vairagya. It stands for courage and valour when its ‘nishkaam’, again a spiritual meaning is attached to it.

And if you come to think of it- the battle of Saragarhi can be cited as a magnificent example of Sikh soldiers’ bravery but it’s not at all about patriotism or nationalism.

The film unnecessarily tries to touch upon all kinds of social issues as well, you can find comments on women’s issues, caste issues and of course the Ghulami issue is definitely there. As a result, it feels too stretched out.

While watching ‘Kesari’, one must know that the battle of Saragarhi was in fact Britishers trying to tame the rebellion of Afghan tribes, rebellion for their freedom from the British Raj and the 36th Sikh Regiment’s decision to fight them was an excellent example of army discipline rather than of Deshbhakti.

A soldier singing sentimental song with a gun in his hands while the battle is going on looks awkward.

Another laughable faux pas is that a director who has spent a fortune in picturising battle scenes and showed Afghan soldiers wearing slippers or sandals!!

After all these years in acting, Akshay Kumar should realise that his voice is weak and when he shouts, his dialogues are unclear. He should work more on his voice.

The film could have strongly portrayed the futility of war. But sadly our jingoistic sentiments more in fashion today stop us from going beyond that superficial and destructive vehemence.

There is so much violence in the end that you start feeling disgusted, instead of feeling proud of the bravery of those soldiers. Unfortunately, the film ends up glorifying violence instead of the valour of the Sikh soldiers.

Parineeti Chopra is there in a cameo in this otherwise male-centric film and has done a commendable job. In all, Kesari leaves you disgusted over blood shed. If you have a fondness for the gory, and of course for our apparently ‘patriotic’ Akshay Kumar, you can watch ‘Kesari’. Otherwise it’s better to forego this film. Rather, read some details about the Saragarhi battle- they will inspire you more.

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