Based on the book, India’s Most Fearless By Shiv Aroor and Rahul Singh, Avrodh – The Siege Within is, as we all already know, a detailed look into the famous Surgical Strike that happened back in 2016 and which rippled waters across the country and even the world, to say the least.
Before I move forward, I would like to mention that my personal opinion about the surgical strike, the propaganda surrounding it, and the after-effects of the same should and will not have anything to do with Avrodh as a presentation. My judgment and analysis is based on only watching it as a show and deriving/judging/analyzing the usual factors just like for any other presentation.
Already having witnessed the ginormous success of Uri – The Surgical Strike starring Vicky Kaushal, I instantly wondered why even make another presentation about the same even if it is a detailed look into the proceedings. However, that doubt is cleared three episodes into Avrodh where you realize that this isn’t just about the immediate occurrences that led to the surgical strike ultimately but how the tension in Kashmir and the factors leading up to it were equally responsible.
Avrodh charters the story of quite a few days before the attack on Uri camp by four Pakistani terrorists to, of course, the return of a successful mission by Indian soldiers and even the aftermath of it. If you are expecting anything that will show India or Indians in the negative light here, you are incredibly wrong. That is the thing with war dramas in India where the factor of patriotism seems so one-note that even a human lapse in judgment which might certainly be the case in any missions cannot be shown in a show/film. Nevertheless, one thing is certain that Avrodh captures and portrays things that Uri couldn’t owing to the obvious time limitation a film faces.
But now that we are on the topic of time already, one of the best things about Avrodh is in fact the runtime. Apart from the premiere and finale, the rest of the seven episodes only run for anything between 24-27 minutes (barring opening and closing credits). That is almost the length of a sitcom and for a war drama to have such a runtime is a surprise. But that is what works in Avrodh’s favor where things don’t seem to get too heavy and just when you feel they might be getting too much to endure, the closing credits roll.
The show does have a few shining moments – the angle of how media acts as a double-edged sword in a nationalist issue is aptly shown by the trajectory that the character of Namrata Joshi (Madhurima Tuli) goes through. All the scenes in the military environment- be it the other missions that Indian soldiers were a part of or even having a fun day playing volleyball in their camp not only seem believable but empathetic too. And lastly, the actual strike shown in the film is undoubtedly the best piece of the show where the whole sequence is masterfully crafted and doesn’t have any unnecessary twists involved to just make it look interesting. Watching Uri, one of the complaints I had was it being too heavy on the action than being about the planning, tactics, and strategies that army men actually go through. That is well taken care of here where the entire choreographed piece of the strike is indeed done brilliantly to not only keep the viewers hooked on but also add the needed authenticity. The subtle touches in the show are also noteworthy. How it is a routine for the inhabitants of a place like Kashmir to see people with arms and ammunition roaming around where they don’t get shocked anymore but just close their windows.
The show, however, falters in several places too. The token portrayal of terrorists continues and the unwanted lectures on jihad, religion are as repetitive as ever. The scenes in the terrorist camp bring another element of ‘seen-that-already’ and even take away a lot of gas from the show’s impact. The other factor where the show falters the most is jingoism. Just like Uri, Avrodh also has its moments of jingoism instead of what should be patriotism and while we totally understand how being passionate about your own country is what our soldiers thrive by; the constant chants, ripping enemies apart etc. become extremely taxing, to say the least.
Even though Amit Sadh is shown as the face of the show, it actually is Darshan Kumaar. The talented actor is a part of the show since episode one to episode nine and he does his job well as the soldier who lost a close friend and wants to have his own revenge also serving the country. Another actor that does a fine job is Madhurima Tuli. The actor who plays Namrata Joshi, a journalist, impresses with her acting chops and while she has always been a good actor, her stints in reality shows may have led people to forget that. Tuli, being the only female presence in the show impresses. Sadh is his usual self, always reliable and always impressing and the rest of the cast including Neeraj Kabi, Anant Mahadevan, and Vikram Gokhale among others do well. The cinematography by Shanu Singh Rajput is masterful while the background score is apt as well.
In the end, Avrodh – The Siege Within might not be a must-watch show by any means but for the ones out there who are convinced about India’s steps and ‘victory’ in The Surgical Strike and just want to have a deeper look into the ordeal might enjoy it.
Rating - 2.5/5 (**1/2)