Source: The Hitavada      Date: 12 Jan 2019 10:01:58



By Aasawari Shenolikar

“Commandoes, how’s the josh?” Major Vihaan Shergill’s (Vicky Kaushal) voice reverberates. “High, Sir!” his commandoes respond with equal passion. And that’s exactly what Aditya Dhar’s URI - The Surgical Strike is - intense, replete with patriotism fervour minus the unnecessary jingoism, and with the right dose of emotion is heartwarming. Dhar’s writing is precise, to the point, and it has the right balance of emotions and enthusiasm. Most of us are aware of the URI attack considered the ‘deadliest attack on security forces in Kashmir in two decades’ where four militants, in a pre-dawn ambush opened fire and killed 19 Indian soldiers. India, anguished and distressed over this, decided to strike back. ‘Surgical strike’ was the key word and within ten days, the Indian Army struck back, and without a single casualty brought down four militant launch pads across the Line of Control in Pak Occupied Kashmir.

Aditya Dhar brings to us what could have happened in URI The Surgical Strike. Divided in five precise chapters - the director, in the first chapter, takes us into the forests of Chandel, Manipur, where on June 4, 2015, 20 armymen of Dogra regiment were killed by militants. A few days later, Major Vihaan, along with his team, leads an attack and inflicts heavy damage on the militants. Vihaan is praised highly for his work, but the decorated Armyman has other things on his mind, foremost being his mother, who is an Alzheimer’s patient. He wants to spend more time with her and so, from active duty gets transferred to a desk job. Vihaan is devastated by the loss of a family member, his brother-in-law, Major Karan (Mohit Raina), one of the casualty in the URI attack. So when he comes to know of a plan afoot to counter the URI attack, Vihaan requests for active duty again. All this, the director establishes in the first half. And post intermission, the strategy and preparations of the surgical strike and the strike itself forms the crux of the movie.

The highlight of the movie, besides Vicky Kauashal, who is brilliant, is that the director is able to touch a chord without needless thumping of the chest, and crying hoarse about love for one’s country. Barring a couple of dialogues - ‘India is also your motherland and serving her should be your duty’ mouthed by the PM and 'Unhe Kashmir chahiye and humein unka sar' uttered passionately by Vihaan, there are no theatrical instances reeking of overpatriotism.

Thankfully, there is also no over the top melodrama about missing families (depicted through songs). There are a couple of scenes that are heart wrenching and your heart goes out to those involved as you feel the pain and sadness. That is not to say that there are no flaws in the ‘emotional department.’ Chapter 2 is a painful drag - it’s about Vihaan’s life in Delhi. That is the quiet before the storm. The hacking and the slashing that you get to see in the first chapter is unleashed in the last chapter.

Stealth forms a major part of the surgical strike, and the strategy by the Indian Army entering PoK through tunnels is shot impressively. The music builds up the tempo as Vihaan and his team, in a surprise attack bring down two launch pads, slaying most of the militants in the process. Guns, grenades and bombs do whatever they are supposed to do, but Vicky’s kaushal wouldn’t have been visible if he was shown handling only weapons. So the last fight scene gets long drawn out as Vicky engages in a fist fight with the militant behind the URI attacks. No prizes for guessing who wins.

Cinematography by Mitesh Mirchandani is top notch as are the action sequences that are brilliantly implemented. Dhar's URI has its heart in the right place. This war film has everything that we get to see in any Hollywood action film - the quick planning strategy to take the cowardly enemy down, the rapid responses between the authorities that are at the core of keeping the nation safe, the choppers hovering over dense forests, the persistent sound of the guns and the bullets and the slow building up of tension. And of course, not to forget, an intern and his drone ‘Garud’ that make up for the geek. Adrenaline is, thus, pumped up for most part of the running time. However, it doesn’t peak as it should have - as in you don’t get the goosebumps.

Which man doesn’t look good in a uniform? Kaushal is droolicious! The appropriately beefed up Vicky Kaushal not only looks the part, but with his superb acting skills cements the fact that he is ‘new Indian’ that Bollywood needs to take note of. He is intense, and from start to finish carries the film on his shoulders. If he is impactful in the action sequences, he is remarkable in the emotional scenes. Watch his body language when a wreath is being laid to pay respect to the martyrs. He is simply striking. Paresh Rawal as Govind (portraying Ajit Doval) is another talented actor who is a treat to watch. The girls - Yami Gautam as a special agent and Kriti Kulhari as a helicopter pilot - don’t have author-backed roles. In fact Kriti’s back story is half baked. Raina, in a short role, is competent.  All said and done, URI is a fitting tribute to our soldiers who ensure that we sleep sound and safe. Respect to the men in olives.

Go watch!

The Hitavada Rating : O O O