Bollywood has a lot of promising offerings this year. Starting off things for 2019 is the Vicky Kaushal starrer 'Uri:The Surgical Strike'. Based on the Indian army's actual tactical mission that was executed on September 28, 2016, the film has finally hit the screens. After the riveting trailer and promos, it is now time to see how well the actual film holds.
The movie begins with an attack on the Indian army by a terrorist organisation in the Northeast. To wipe them out, the government sends in the special forces, an elite division of the Indian army headed by Vihan Shergill, played by Vicky Kaushal. It is from here that the true narrative kicks off.
The major plot of the film revolves around Vihan Shergill, head of the special forces unit. He transfers to Delhi to stay with his mother who is suffering from Alzheimer's, his sister who is married to Major Karan Kashyap played by Mohit Raina and an adorable eight-year-old girl. Another important character in the film is also revealed, which Mr. Govind, the National Security Advisor to the PMO.
Meanwhile, the government appoints a nurse Jasmine Almeida which is played by Yami Gautam, who is, of course, an undercover intelligence officer. As we glean insight into Vihan's personal life, the attacks from terrorists across the border increase in frequency. The culmination point of all this is the Uri attack, in which many brave Indian soldiers were martyred including his brother-in-law Karan.
After the death of Karan leaves Vihan and his family devastated, he then becomes determined to avenge all the men who lost their lives due to terrorist's cowardly attack. This finally leads to the inception of the Surgical Strike, the meticulous planning behind it and the flawless execution. Whether the special forces succeed in their task makes up for the rest of the tale.
The film excels thanks to its sheer and unparalleled technical brilliance. The sense of realism is maintained throughout the film and with the exception of a few minor lapses, Uri is one of the most grounded films Bollywood has ever made. Director Aditya Dhar's painstaking research for the story is evident as he got even the minutest of details down pat- for example how a soldier moves, holds a gun, flanks his enemy among many other things, with a great highlight on the importance of a team.
The action set pieces are super realistic with gunfights going on for minutes on end at times, as is often the case in real life. Another big plus is that it shows the importance of surveillance and recon, two very important things which most action movies ignore. No mission is carried out without complete information and no soldier runs in blind- the strike is only carried out when all aspects come to work together like a well-oiled machine.
Coming to performances Vicky Kaushal owns the film once again as Vihan as he laughs, cries and shouts in anger, making you root for him all the way. Paresh Rawal deserves a round of applause for his nuanced performance as the NSA. He is pensive, intelligent and believes in innovation which is eventually as important for the success of the strike as any soldier.
The only sticking point is that there is a perceived lack of emotional connect. Even this is subjective, as there are many moments in the first half that will leave you morose and angry. The second half becomes completely technical though, which may not sit well with the Indian crowd who is used to seeing a blend of emotions in films.
Overall, 'Uri: The Surgical Strike' is a technical masterpiece that every cinema lover can be proud of.
Cast: Vicky Kaushal, Yami Gautam, Paresh Rawal, Kirti Kulhari
What works: Story, screenplay, performance, action set pieces and execution
What doesn't: Lack of emotional hook points