What is the story about?
Major Suraj Singh and his band of soldiers attempt to mount a resistance against Chinese forces in Ladakh at the height of the 1962 Indo-China war. But it is a huge mismatch--125 men against 300 Chinese intruders. Can Suraj and his band of soldiers save the day?
The curse of Haqeeqat is real. In the last few years, no one has been able to make a cinematic representation of India's exploits in the face of defeat in the 1962 Indo-China War that can match the emotional crescendo of Chetan Anand's 1964 film. Mahesh Manjrekar tries his best to break the curse with his deft direction in 1962: The War In The Hills, but he is really let down by Charudutt Acharya's bloated screenplay, which makes the cardinal error of giving too much space to the inner lives of the Rewari soldiers, at the cost of war scenes and military planning strategies. It is understandable that Disney+ Hotstar wanted to cash in on the anti-China sentiment following the Galwan valley clashes last year, but shoehorning it into the narrative forcibly reeks of insincerity. The dramatic moments are few and far between, while the sprawling ensemble is saddled with badly-written parts. Manjrekar and Acharya wanted to make a war epic; what they end up delivering is an underwhelming family soap.
For a show that has a sprawling cast, it is amazing how underwritten their roles are. Sumeet Vyas, the darling of the Indian OTT space, gets saddled with a unidimensional character, Ram Kumar, whose only description seems to be that of a hot-headed soldier. Sairat star Akash Thosar plays Kishan, a soldier who is in love, but his sudden switch to committed braveheart rigs hollow at times. Mahie Gill and Hemal Ingle are okay as Shagun and Radha, while Rochelle Rao provides some lump-in-the-throat moments as milkmaid Rinpa who helps the Indian soldiers in key situations. Geetika Vidya Ohlyan is terrific in a cameo as Indira Gandhi, but Arif Zakaria's Nehru seems to be even more underwritten than his roles in Vikram Bhatt's horror films. It falls to two actors to genuinely keep you invested in this story. Abhay Deol is excellent as Suraj Singh, and the story captures his moral and ethical quandaries perfectly. Meiyang Chang also springs a surprise as the Chinese major who believes in a code of honour on the battlefield, which is at odds with his soldiers.
The few war sequences that are there are well-choreographed.
The screenplay is really bloated and feels all over the place in terms of tone.
Did I enjoy it?
Apart from one or two sequences, I was sorely disappointed.
Do I recommend it?
Honestly, you've seen better war movies. Revisiting 1917 or Border would be a better idea.