Review: 'Sam Bahadur' falls flat as a tribute to Sam Manekshaw despite Vicky Kaushal's blood-sweat dedication

Sam Bahadur turns out to be a rather flat approach in portraying this real-life hero's valor and contribution to the country with the weak screenplay and execution, which only manages to stay at par owing to Vicky Kaushal's dedicated performance.

Sam Bahadur

Sam Bahadur

For all the ardent admirers of Vicky Kaushal and Meghna Gulzar eagerly anticipating the grandeur of 'Sam Bahadur,' the cinematic portrayal of India's inaugural Field Marshal, it appears that "The Josh is not so high this time." Despite Vicky Kaushal's well-established reputation as one of the nation's premier actors, particularly in his commendable portrayals of military personnel and real-life heroes, there seems to be a certain element missing in the execution this time around. Having had the privilege of witnessing the film, let me share my perspective on what feels like a slight misstep in the grand production.

The Screenplay and Packaging

The Screenplay and Packaging

The film follows a straightforward narrative trajectory, tracing Sam Manekshaw's journey from a military officer to his progression through various ranks. It incorporates glimpses of his personal interactions with his wife Siloo (played by Sanya Malhotra), along with depicting his strategic maneuvers and meetings with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi (portrayed by Fatima Sana Shaikh). The narrative gains momentum as Manekshaw emerges triumphant in the 1971 Indo-Pak war, ultimately earning the prestigious title of India's first Field Marshal.

The initial half of the film tends to be somewhat sluggish, lacking a gripping hold on the audience. It almost adopts a documentary-like pace, sprinkled with occasional witty moments reflective of Sam's character. 

Wait until you get across the sexual tension between Indira Gandhi and Sam. However, it's in the second half that the storyline takes a more engaging turn, building up towards a dramatic climax. Despite this positive shift, there's a notable absence of sufficient context to truly understand who Sam Manekshaw was. The attempt to paint a comprehensive picture of his life appears disjointed and incomplete.

Decoding Vicky Kaushal as Sam Manekshaw

Decoding Vicky Kaushal as Sam Manekshaw

Contrary to widespread expectations, Vicky Kaushal's portrayal in 'Sam Bahadur' doesn't claim the title of his best performance to date. Undoubtedly, the actor demonstrates a dedicated effort to step into Sam's shoes, evident particularly in the initial sequences. However, as the film progresses, his portrayal starts to feel somewhat artificial and hammed. Commendably, Kaushal excels in capturing Sam's mannerisms, especially in his posture, adding a notable touch to his performance. The delivery of dialogues is potent and leaves a lasting impact. Nevertheless, the overall performance doesn't leave the same lasting impression witnessed in films like 'Sardar Udham' or 'URI: The Surgical Strike.'

Other Performances

 Other Performances

Sanya Malhotra, in the role of Siloo, exudes a gentle and sweet demeanor, delivering what is required of her character. However, it's evident that she is underutilized as an actor, not having much opportunity to showcase her full range of skills. On the other hand, Fatima Sana Shaikh's portrayal of 'Indira Gandhi' falls flat. The performance lacks conviction, with a noticeable absence of adopted mannerisms, leaving it feeling uninspiring. As for the supporting actors like Zeeshan Ayyub, Neeraj Kabi, Govind Namdev, and others, they contribute to the film with decent performances.

Meghna Gulzar's Major Misses

 Meghna Gulzar's Major Misses

Meghna Gulzar's oversight in this film lies in the absence of sufficient context. In the case of biopics on figures like 'M.S Dhoni' or 'Mahatma Gandhi,' the audience typically possesses enough background knowledge to connect with the narrative. However, Sam Manekshaw is not a widely known personality, making it crucial to provide a prelude or background to the storyline to familiarize viewers with the individual.

Furthermore, the film's central focus on the 1971 Indo-Pak war lacks impactful war scenes. Instead, snippets of black and white archival footage have been incorporated, giving the overall presentation an unfinished appearance. This approach fails to deliver the expected impact, and the absence of compelling action scenes leaves the film wanting in that aspect.

Also, a question lingering in my mind for Meghna Gulzar Ji, "Sweetie, why did Sam Manekshaw receive the title of 'Sam Bahadur'? 

Army Nitty Gritties

 Army Nitty Gritties

A noteworthy aspect that consistently stands out in the film is the meticulous portrayal of army regiments and their deployment areas. The attention to detail in showcasing their day-to-day operations, rigorous drills, impeccably rendered uniforms, and the hierarchy of ranks contributes to an authentic representation of military life. This meticulous depiction lends an air of credibility to the film, allowing audiences to gain insight into the inner workings of the armed forces.

The cinematography also deserves commendation for its careful treatment of scenes set in diverse locations such as Mizoram, POK, and others. The visual storytelling effectively captures the essence of these regions, providing a vivid backdrop to the unfolding narrative. 

The Verdict

Sam Bahadur turns out to be a rather flat approach in portraying this real-life hero's valor and contribution to the country with the weak screenplay and execution, which only manages to stay at par owing to Vicky Kaushal's dedicated performance. 

Rating

**1/2 (2.5/5) stars

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Vicky Kaushal Thumbnail

Vicky Kaushal

Meghna Gulzar Thumbnail

Meghna Gulzar

Sanya Malhotra Thumbnail

Sanya Malhotra

Fatima Sana Shaikh Thumbnail

Fatima Sana Shaikh

Sam Bahadur poster

Sam Bahadur

Comments (1)

Vicky did a really great job there

2 months ago

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