The Forgotten Army, is probably one of Amazon Prime’s most expensive original series. Kabir Khan marks just another debut in the digital space as a director, with his creation, ‘The Forgotten Army’ that’s streaming live on the platform from the 24th of January 2020. While working as a documentary filmmaker, and shooting extensively in the forests of Burma, and other parts of Singapore, the director was so smitten by the forgotten war hero’s that he decided on making a fictionalized version of the same two decades later.
The series opens interestingly with Maya Shrinivasan (Sharvari Wagh) running helter-skelter, looking for someone as a bomb explodes, shattering everything around into smithereens. The scene cuts to an old Lt. Sodhi, arriving at Singapore airport, in 1996, where he is gripped by the nostalgic moments of the world war. The plot begins to evolve as the Amar (Karanvir Malhotra, Sodhi’s grand nephew), argues about going to Burma to cover a certain protest, as his initial journalistic stint. He leaves the house in a huff, only to discover his bike isn’t working. Sodhi quietly comes to the boy’s rescue and helps repair his bike. Amar is amazed, and suddenly someone who is disregarded as a member of the family became very important to him. The story of Sodhi begins to unfold as Amar walks him through the memorials.
From a critical perspective, the focus should’ve been more inclined towards the war and its misgivings. However, the romance is unnecessarily heightened, dilutes the doings of the war hero’s, and all the efforts that are taken to insert the archival footage. It was interesting to watch the formation of the Rani of Jhansi regiment. But there was a rude cut, diverting viewer’s attention to the brewing romance between Sodhi and Maya. It takes quite a while to arrive at, ‘Who is Sodhi (Sunny Kaushal)? And ‘Who are the members of the INA?’ The plot seemed to have taken off on a wild goose chase before arriving at the answers to the above-mentioned questions. Some of the dialogues are quirky and seem pretty instantaneous. The comic relief (especially the part where the Japanese gift the Indian soldiers 50 bulls, instead of cows) is very humorous. These inserts offer a necessary to break the war monotony. The dialogues are simple and relatable. The use of language is questionable, considering this could be watched by school children as well. The swearing needed a lot more control. The story could have delved into the more insightful details of the war. While the INA was just one aspect, the series could have artfully compiled a couple of narratives comprising of the contribution of the Indians in the Second World War. As freshers Sharvari Wagh, Sunny Kaushal, and Rohit Choudhry (Who plays the part of Sodhi’s friend, Arshad) have delivered very convincingly. Director Kabir Khan has intelligibly moulded their skill to bring the best out of them. Khan has thought of a very different perspective, giving the series a very fresh approach. He has given the insights from the soldier's point of view but has made a potpourri of so many narratives, that the essence is lost in oblivion. The music has heightened the glory of the 5 part series. The cinematography is on point. It seems like one is watching a film. There is an interesting involvement to graphics and artificial intelligence through the series. The plot also comes alive owing to the research carried out by the production team. They have managed to get the actual gun and other war gear to keep the ongoing in the story real.
This is a must-watch, and yet could be rated at a mere 3.5/5 for the fall out on the details of the war.