There is a sense of excitement in the air among those present in the room as media persons eagerly wait for the arrival of 'the' Vicky Kaushal - the man who will play Major Vihan Shergill in 'Uri: The Surgical Strike' which hits theatres in less than 48 hours.
But the actor, who is probably at the peak of his career at the moment, puts forth a humble demeanour as soon as Paresh Rawal enters the room. Kaushal is quick to greet Rawal as we get ready for the interview along with Yami Gautam and director Aditya Dhar. About 10 minutes later, Paresh Rawal, reel-life NSA Ajit Doval, turns into the protagonist for the moment while responding to 'controversial' questions.
Kaushal, buoyed by the fast approaching release of his first big film as a lead actor, is a mixture of positivity and political correctness sugar coated with candour. Asked about 'Uri' being called a propaganda film, Vicky denies the charge by saying that the media is picking on just '5 %' of opinions on the film. The moment you turn to Paresh Rawal you know an actor well past the age of diplomacy and not afraid of letting his feelings known is speaking.
‘There is a termite clan in our country, whose only job is to oppose and question things,’ Paresh Rawal tells Republic in response to the ‘propaganda’ allegation. Does the actor not find the timing of the film’s release suspicious? ‘Not at all and why should there be? What is the harm in being proud of your own Army?,' says Rawal unabashedly. The phrase 'termite clan' brings about a dash of laughter among his co-stars, who are somewhat taken aback with the candor of their senior colleague, who is also a member of Parliament.
'Our Army has done such a big task, so what is wrong in puffing your chest and showing it? Where is the propaganda here? When our jawans were killed, burnt, that time they said nothing. When we went and took revenge, then instead of praising they curse the Army. There are some who call army chief a thug. Such people will keep blabbering, keep talking, they're termites. You should never think about them,' says Rawal.
So is there an element of 'propaganda' to the film 'Uri'? Yes, if you look at it from a cynical perspective and add various factors including the difference between the release date and elections along with the dialogues such as 'yeh naya Hindustan hai, yeh ghar mein ghusega bhi aur maarega bhi.' But isn't that what every army film made in Bollywood history, be it 'Border,' 'LoC' or 'Lakshya,' always revolved around? Over-the-top dialogues aimed at glorifying nationalism, sacrifice and valour along with a protagonist ready to lay down his life for the nation without any repent - these are the quintessential elements of all Army films, right from 'The Guns of Navarone' to 'Saving Private Ryan.'
And can a two-to-three hour film really impact an electorate as large as India? Seems a bit far-fetched. Director Aditya Dhar tells Republic that the release of the film was planned one year ago. 'We don't plan to release the film on a particular date for political reasons but for economic reason,' says Dhar.
The film will be open to audiences on January 11 and Vicky Kaushal says it is a 'tribute to the Army.' 'Propaganda' or not, the audience will make it clear over the next weeks.
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