The Hidden Strike Review: A lazy, laughable, over-the-top and frankly, strange propaganda film

Rhea Srivastava -

The Hidden Strike Review: A lazy, laughable, over-the-top and frankly, strange propaganda film
Platform
Shemaroo Me
Digital Premiere Date
2020-08-14
Format
Movie Rated
16+
Genre
DRAMA,WAR
Language

Synopsis:

The Hidden Strike is a fictional movie about a ground mission where a team of thirteen Indian Army officers and soldiers went across POK and destroyed the terrorist camp with a planned sub tactical strike. The film is dedicated to India soldiers and their families. The film shows what price our freedom fighters pay for the safety of our country. The Hidden Strike also highlights issues that the Indian Army faces from certain groups of people from the valley.

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Format:   Original Movie
Platform:   Shemaroo Me
Movie Rated:   16+
Genre:   Mystery, Thriller
Language:   Hindi, Tamil, Telugu
Digital Premiere Date:  14 August 2020

 

Amidst the militant attacks on Uri (post-which India led a retaliatory surgical strike against suspects in Pakistan-administered Kashmir), came the resurgence of war movies and shows, fuelling equal parts patriotism and equal parts jingoism amongst the audience, depending on how lightly the content tread on that thin line. Just within the last year or so, we have had two adaptations of the same event - the 2019 movie Uri: The Surgical Strike, and the 2020 Sony LIV web series Avrodh: The Siege Within. Quality notwithstanding, the makers of both have repeatedly mentioned how important it was to handle the subject matter with sensitivity and neutrality, especially considering how it is part of our recent political and military history, and how many people associated with the attack and strike are still alive. Military experts were hired as consultants on these projects to ensure authenticity and fact. Actors went through months of training in combat protocol to look and sound the part. And then came The Hidden Strike. 
 
What is the Story About?
ShemarooMe’s film starts off with a booming voiceover and a bombardment of imagery from the 2016 attacks on Uri and how we, as a nation, were in desperate need to teach our neighbour country a lesson for which the military as a whole took on the challenge of a ‘secret mission.’ We will just call it ‘mission’ from now on because that’s what it is called for most of the runtime, without mentioning any specifics on what exactly it amounts to. While the entire contingent of the Indian army was responsible for the said mission, we are concerned with a regiment of only 13 people, where the name of their regiment is never mentioned, and neither is any other part of the military, making these 13 exist in a surgical strike bubble. Deepraj Rana plays Colonel Ranbir Singh who leads a team to ‘destroy’ some militants in the middle of… somewhere in the mountains. A plan is briefly discussed in mute as the film’s score plays in the background, then the officers sing and dance instead of training or strategizing their moves. They refuse camouflage and open fire at multiple places, and in the meantime, they abuse the enemy. Oh, there’s also some casual sexism and an unnecessary (non)-romance subplot. 
 
Analysis:
There are shoddy movies, and there are movies like The Hidden Strike which are as good as being a potato. That sentence makes no sense and neither does this movie. Within the first few minutes itself, the film’s tone is established as it harangues you with the mantra that we have to wage a war against terrorism. This is a noble albeit slightly problematic thought, even just a day before our independence day, considering extremely pressing political issues the country is facing with its neighbours at the moment, amidst a pandemic. Not to mention, how the self-congratulatory tone, post the 2016 surgical strike, has harmed peaceful international dialogue and been used as political tom-toming by the ruling party. While I am not against adaptations of the events surrounding Uri, or any other significant military event, by refusing to add any specifics to the rest of the film other than ‘India - good, rest - bad,’ why we’re being shown what we’re being shown, who are we attacking, why it has been strategized in a certain way, gives extremely poor context to an impressionable audience. I imagine, and forgive me for jumping the gun here, a misinformed viewer clapping and cheering when salwar kameez-clad kohl-wearing Urdu-speaking bearded men are bludgeoned on screen as ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ is victoriously announced. But do any of them know why? The Hidden Strike, which ends with a patriotic song and the Indian tricolor across the credits adds to a blind and misdirected patriotism which takes us several steps back from a more peacefully resolute future with our neighbours and otherwise. 
 
Specifics to 2016 aside, it is also shocking at how poorly researched the film is in terms of military jargon and combat protocol. Most of the dialogue in the film is beyond laughable even to a civilian. The reason why some of the officers are part of this mission makes no sense. The fact that a married couple is part of the same mission is as strange as the fact that this actually has any significance to how they conduct themselves during it. And the climactic battle is bloodshed of random deaths with no context whatsoever. Some of the regular old-school Indian war film tropes are used here too to a tired effect - low ranking officers are either used as comic relief or to provide exposition for their beloved back home, one exchange is necessary to pre-empt who is going to die in the climactic battle, there is at least one reference to a previous war, a significant riot, at least two slow-motion deaths while shouting out a warcry - a tired and dated copycat attempt at making something resembling a war film. 
 
Performances:
In terms of the performances, Deepraj Rana is fairly seasoned so he seems to be putting some effort into his performance. None of the other actors are terrible, and the whole ensemble seems to care about what they’re doing, but neither do any of them stand out. 
 
Highlights:
None.

 
Drawbacks:
Aplenty. The film has the distinction of being a short war film timed at just 1.5 hours, a rarity in itself, and yet I feel exhausted. The screenplay is disjointed with scenes thrown in for the sake of adhering to the tropes of the genre. There isn’t much to learn from this film, neither is there anything to enjoy. In fact, you may feel angry after watching it and I’d really hope you channel those emotions into something more productive and hopefully, positive. 
 
Music and Other Departments:
The Hidden Strike is full of high crescendo patriotic numbers and one staple nostalgia song, none of which are memorable. There’s also a very random dance number in the beginning, which will not make you want to dance. The editing and cinematography are amateurish in many places, especially the introduction scene(s) for the mission team. The dialogue is childish. The production design improves as we go along, making the outdoor scenes seem bearable, which is the bare minimum here. 
 
Did I Enjoy It?
No. I need to wash this off by watching Lakshya thrice. 
 
Do I Recommend It?
No. Don’t ruin your Independence Day.


 



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