Sardar Udham has a back and forth story like Black Friday, though with less thrill

by Joginder Tuteja

Movie Review - Sardar Udham has a back and forth story like Black Friday, though with less thrill

Seeing Sardar Udham reminded me of Black Friday. The dramatic thriller directed by Anurag Kashyap was a gripping affair as it too began with a bang and then took a viewer to the backstory of the criminal. Why were bombs planted all over Mumbai? Who were the men who carried out the plan? What was the thought process behind these acts? What was the trigger point behind all this?

Similarity, even in Sardar Udham, you get to see an assassination (or an act of revolution/protest, as claimed by the central protagonist) in the beginning. The story then moves back and forth in time. Who was Udham Singh (Vicky Kaushal)? How did he enter London? Who were the people he made plans with? What was the origin of revolution? What was his connection with the Jallianwala Bagh massacre that led him to assassinate General Reginald Dyer?

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So far, so good. After all, a saga like this also has to go into the specifics. It’s just that unlike Black Friday, which unfolds in chapter format but maintains one thrill after another, Sardar Fussard remains largely constant with a surprisingly slow-paced narrative. There are practically no dramatic high points that propel you to the edge of the seat and watch the horror unfold. Yes, a 30-minute long sequence has been set during and after the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. However, what could have been conveyed in 10 minutes ends up with practically the same scene (Sardar Udham trying to save the lives of the injured) appearing on the screen over and over again. Believe that the intention behind this must have been to take the viewer to the scary realm of helplessness. Yet a lot has been done here.

Even otherwise, you miss out on many pieces that could have influenced the turn of events in those 20 odd years between the massacre and the final murder. Why was Udham Singh jailed for 4 years in India? What was his thought process during those 6 years in India? How were their relations with the IRA, Russia and the Native Indians in London leading to the assassination plan? Were they actually funded and operated by other Indian and foreign bodies?

During the end credits it is mentioned that Sardar Udham’s files are still classified, and so one can well imagine that there is much more than meets the eye. So far, okay. However, if the story would have moved at a faster pace and the turn of events were quicker then as a spectator you would not get down to think so much about the missing pieces.

That said, as a production, Shoojit Sircar, Ronnie Lahiri and Sheel Kumar will have to give full marks to give Sardar Udham an international look. You are assuming this is an international production, given the overall design, set, location, cinematography, lighting, sound design and costumes. Yes, the background score could have been better to bring out the thriller mood but still, overall as a visual packaging, Sardar Udham stands out as a top international product.

In that aspect, the film is bound to win some awards for the way it is set and designed. However, as an entertainer, the film could have been directed better by Shoojit Sircar. I had even higher hopes as he is the same person who has directed a geopolitical thriller like Madras Cafe very well, and similar behavior could have made Sardar Udham a more entertaining affair.

Rating: ️⭐️1/2

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