What is the story about?
The film tells the tale of Sardar Udham Singh, and how he went to England and succeeded in assassinating Michael O'Dwyer as revenge for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre of 1919.
One of the most intriguing figures in the Indian independence movement has been Sardar Udham Singh. A lot has been spoken about other freedom fighters, but most people would be hard pressed to find a single chronicle or even biopic that commemorates his actions. Considering the spate of patriotic films that release these days, Sardar Udham could have also been another film that rides on hyper-nationalism to lionize its hero. Refreshingly, however, director Shoojit Sircar teams up with writers Subhendu Bhattacharya and Ritesh Shah to tell the story of the man behind the legend. The makers choose to focus on how, driven by revenge, Sardar Udham Singh tried to ingratiate himself into Michael O'Dwyer's confidences while simultaneously planning his murder. At two and a half hours, you might think it runs long, but the screenplay devotes ample time to the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, which sowed the seeds of revenge in Udham Singh's mind. Instead of turning the Britishers into caricaturish villains, the screenplay devotes space to the machinations of each and every character, and this is perhaps what makes Sardar Udham stand out as one of the best Hindi films of the year.
Vicky Kaushal is a knockout in this film. His Sardar Udham Singh is not a hyper-nationalist hero, but is shown as someone for whom the ideals of patriotism and revenge have become rooted in the personal. Shaun Scott is chillingly real as Michael O'Dwyer, and he is remarkable in a scene where he remarks about how India would fall into chaos if the British left it. Stephen Hogan is solid as Detective Inspector Swain, whose interrogation of Udham Singh turns into a reluctant admiration over the course of the film. Kirsty Averton excels as Eileen Palmer, a Communist who helps Udham Singh. Amol Parashar shines in a cameo as Bhagat Singh, while Banita Sandhu has a blick-and-miss appearance as a romantic interest who is deaf and mute.
Music & Other Departments
George Joseph's background score lends urgency and poise to the film. Avik Mukhopadhyay's lensing is superb. The production design is top-notch.
Vicky Kaushal's performance
The water-tight screenplay
The Jallianwala Bagh massacre sequence
The film could have been slightly shorter.
Did I enjoy it?
Do I recommend it?