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Grate indian army: Shershaah (transl. Lion King) is a 2021 Indian Hindi-language biographical war film directed by Vishnuvardhan in his Hindi film debut and written by Sandeep Shrivastava. The film follows the life of Param Vir Chakra-awardee Captain Vikram Batra, from his first posting in the army to his death in the Kargil War. The film stars Sidharth Malhotra as Vikram Batra and Kiara Advani as his girlfriend Dimple Cheema. The film was produced by Dharma Productions and Kaash Entertainment, with Hiroo Yash Johar, Karan Johar, Apoorva Mehta, Shabbir Boxwala, Ajay Shah and Himanshu Gandhi serving as co-producers.
Announced in May 2019, principal photography began in the same month and concluded in January 2020. Initially slated to be released on 3 July 2020, the film was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The film then premiered on 12 August 2021 on Amazon Prime Video. The film received mixed reviews from the critics, who praised Malhotra’s performance and the action sequences but criticised the writing of the film. On 31 August 2021, Amazon stated that Shershaah had become the most watched Indian film on the platform.
Vishal Batra delivers a talk on his brother Vikram Batra, narrating the story of his life.
A young Vikram Batra is playing cricket when he gets into a fight with elder teenage kids over a ball, revealing the fearless nature he later became known for. The TV series Param Vir Chakra inspires him to join the Indian Army. A montage shows his patriotism and his desire to join the army as he grows up. At 23, he gets commissioned into the Delta Company, 13th battalion, Jammu and Kashmir Rifles (13 JAK RIF) and posted to Sopore as a lieutenant. He develops cordial relations with both his men and locals and takes part in counter-insurgency operations. On one such operation, he defies his CO Lt. Sanjeev “Jimmy” Jamwal but neutralises the perpetrators and saves Jimmy’s life. Jimmy reprimands his approach but gets close to him later.
Back at the base, Batra receives a letter from his girlfriend, Dimple Cheema. The film flashes back to 1995 when Batra and Dimple start dating. They decide to get married, however, Dimple’s father refuses to accept Batra as they belong to different castes. To please her dad, Batra decides to give up his Army dream and join the Merchant Navy for a higher salary. However, his friend Sunny convinces him to not give up his dream. Consequently, Batra and Dimple fight over their future.
Back in present, Delta Company catches an insurgent group’s henchman. In retaliation, the leader Haider ambushes Delta Company by luring them with intel of a weapons cache. Batra’s friend Naib Subedar Bansi Lal is among those killed. Traumatised and vengeful, he tracks down Haider and obtains authorisation from the unit’s CO, Lt. Col. Yogesh Kumar Joshi for an operation. Delta Company led by Batra raids Haider’s house, killing him. Subsequently, he prepares to go on leave as unbeknownst to him the Kargil War nears.
In May 1999 in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf began an offensive move to capture Kashmir and sends troops to occupy mountain peaks in Kargil, violating the Geneva Convention and the Shimla Agreement. As news about a potential war gains traction, Batra decides to cut short his vacation and return. He makes his famous promise to Sunny “I’ll either come back after raising the Indian flag in victory or return wrapped in it. But I’ll come for sure.”
The unit is moved to the Ghumri Army Base, as a reserve force, along with other regiments to acclimatise and prepare. The base comes under artillery fire that results in multiple casualties, including Batra’s senior, Maj. Ajay Singh Jasrotia. Three weeks into the war, 13 JAK RIF is moved to active-duty to relieve 2nd Rajputana Rifles (2 RAJ RIF) and tasked with recapturing Point 5140 at 17,000 feet. Batra is assigned the codename Shershaah and victory signal Yeh Dil Maange More, for radio communication. Jimmy and Batra lead their companies and recapture Point 5140 without casualties, garnering praise in the army and public. Batra is promoted to Captain and nominated for Maha Vir Chakra.
Following their impressive victory, the Army Command tasks 13 JAK RIF with capturing Point 4875 which overlooks National Highway 1 and would figuratively end the war. They begin the assault on Point 4875 the next day, but take heavy casualties due to rough terrain and multiple enemy bunkers. Eventually, they destroy the four bunkers they are aware of. Unaware of a fifth camouflaged bunker, they take heavy fire. Batra tasks Rifleman Yashpal to use a Pakistani RPG-7 at the bunker. A sniper however hits him before he can fire. Batra runs across open ground to rescue him and does so successfully but is hit multiple times by both sniper and AK-47 rounds. As he collapses, he watches Subedar Raghunath Singh take command and charge at the final bunker. He succumbs as the men raise the Indian flag in victory. He is posthumously awarded the Param Vir Chakra for his actions on Point 4875.
Karan Johar confirmed in 2018 that he would be producing a biopic on the life of Captain Vikram Batra. The Batra family wanted Sidharth Malhotra to play Batra. He was eventually selected to portray the double role of Batra and his identical twin brother Vishal. Several actresses were in discussions to play Batra’s fiancée, Dimple Cheema before Kiara Advani was cast. Malhotra started military training for the film in April 2019. Before the official announcement of the film, it was speculated that the title will be “Mera Dil Maange More” but later was changed to “Shershaah”.
The film was officially announced on 2 May 2019, with the title confirmed and shooting locations to be Chandigarh, Palampur, Kargil, Ladakh and Kashmir Valley. Principal photography commenced on 7 May and the film wrapped on 12 January 2020. Patchwork shots were completed by 23 October 2020.
The music of film was composed by Tanishk Bagchi, B Praak, Jasleen Royal, Javed-Mohsin and Vikram Montrose with lyrics written by Manoj Muntashir, Rashmi Virag, Anvita Dutt, Jaani and Tanishk Bagchi. The music album of the film was the most successful Indian album of the year and it became the best album of 2021 it crossed 1 billion streams in all music platforms.
The song “Mann Bharrya 2.0” was recreation of B Praak’s single Mann Bharrya released in 2018. The song was recreated by the same team of orignal song with sung and music by B Praak and written and composed by Jaani.
the film was scheduled to release theatrically on 3 July 2020 but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On 20 February 2021, the new release date was announced as 2 July 2021, before being postponed again. The film premiered on 12 August 2021 on Amazon Prime Video. On 31 August 2021, Amazon stated that Shershaah had become the most watched Indian film on the platform. The film was streamed by audiences in over 4,100 Indian cities and towns, and in 210 countries and territories.
Upon release, Shershaah received mixed reviews from the film critics, who praised Malhotra’s performance and the action sequences but criticised the writing of the film. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film currently holds a rating of 54% based on 13 reviews and an average rating of 5.2/10.
Taran Adarsh of Bollywood Hungama gave the film 3.5 stars out of 5 calling Shershaah “power-packed” and wrote, “Shershaah salutes the valor, courage and bravery of Kargil war hero Captain Vikram Batra, Inspirational and emotional. A game changer for Sidharth Malhotra. Commanding act. Unmissable!. Director Vishnu Varadhan narrates the story of Shershaah with utmost competency. Screenwriting is absorbing for most parts. The war sequences are executed with flourish. The finale is sure to leave you moist-eyed”.
Anna M. M. Vetticad of Firstpost gave the film 2.75 stars out 5 opining “Captain Vikram Batra biopic is gripping as an Army procedural”, noting it as Malhotra’s best performance since Kapoor and Sons, and that “Vishnu Varadhan could not have found a more suitable mainstream star to join him in memorialising one of India’s favorite war heroes.” Saibal Chatterjee of NDTV gave the film 2.5 stars by saying Malhotra “has what it takes to portray Batra with efficiency.” He concluded “The cinematic firepower and flint take Shershaah much higher – and further – as a war drama”.
Anupama Chopra of Film Companion wrote, “The film’s clunky structure doesn’t allow it to accrue tension or exert a grip, but it comes to life in the second hour once the battle begins”. Shubhra Gupta of The Indian Express gave the film 2 stars out of 5 saying that “the Sidharth Malhotra film has neither the necessary drama inherent in a cracking war film, nor does it raise patriotic goosebumps”. Writing for Hindustan Times, Rohan Nahaar praised the screenplay but criticised the direction stating that the “smartly choreographed action, a reverent tone, and Sidharth Malhotra‘s sincere performance can’t make up for Vishnu Varadhan’s uneven direction”.
The talk Vishal Batra gives in the beginning of the film resembles the TEDx talk he gave in 2017 (evident from the same title and similar clothes.)
The film depicts Vikram Batra and Dimple Cheema getting married, while she is unaware. In an interview with The Quint in 2016, Cheema revealed that, “while doing the parikrama of the Nishan Sahib, he was walking behind me. On completing the parikrama, he said ‘Congratulations, Mrs. Batra’. I swirled around to see him holding one end of my dupatta.” In Sikhism, completion of four rounds around the Nishan Sahib is considered a marriage ritual. The depiction of Batra filling Cheema’s hair parting with his blood (a Hindu marriage ritual) was also confirmed by her in the same interview.
The film shows Batra telling his friend, “I’ll either come back after raising the Indian flag in victory or return wrapped in it. But I’ll come for sure.” Although, his twin, Vishal Batra confirmed Batra saying the words to “a friend”, it has been disputed as to who he actually said those words to.
The movie portrays a Pakistani troop threatening Batra over the radio. Batra himself narrated this himself in his famous interview with Barkha Dutt recalling, “Oh Shershaah, you’ve come. Don’t try to come up, otherwise you’ll have a tough time… and that was the time they gave us a challenge and my guys they… they went wild.” The film also shows Pakistani troops asking the Indians to give them Madhuri Dixit. This has been previously confirmed by others who served in the unit.
In the aftermath of capture of 5140, Batra is shown to use a journalist’s satellite phone to call Cheema. In reality, he had borrowed a satellite phone but had called his father instead. His incomplete message, “Daddy, I’ve captured”, was initially misinterpreted as a message of his capture.
While climbing 4875, Batra is shown to charge at a bunker and kill three enemy troops alone in hand-to-hand combat. However, in reality, he had killed five enemy troops and sustained multiple injuries while doing so.