Genres: History, War


Official Website: 
Country:   India
Language:  Hindi
Release Date:  1 December 2023

Box Office

Budget:  $6,900,000

Company Credits

Production Companies:  RSVP Movies

Technical Specs

Runtime:  2 h 28 min
Vicky Kaushal is not at fault in this routine biographical film about a man who was anything but routine!

Fatima Sana Shaikh appears to be a college student competing in a fancy dress competition on Independence Day, which she would not have won even if she had been dressed like Indira Gandhi.


The narrative centers on Army Chief Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw, played by Vicky Kaushal, and how an army commander in the Gorkha Regiment of the 8th Gorkha Rifles bestowed upon him the title “Sam Bahadur” on him. The man fought in the army during World War II, and he went on to serve in the Indo-Pak War (1965), the Bangladesh Liberation War (1971), and the Sino-Indian War (1962).

It also looks at Sam’s amazing bond with Indira Gandhi, the prime minister of India at the time (Fatima Sana Shaikh), and how, in response to her questioning whether he was prepared to go to war with Pakistan, he would always respond, “I am ready, sweetie.” It depicts the journey of the man who, above all others, was always a soldier.

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Examining The Screenplay:

Meghna Gulzar rejoins Bhavani Iyer, the scriptwriter for Raazi, and adds Shantanu Shrivastava to the erratic trio. Sadly, the execution falls into the trap of being a standard army inspiration story associated with these kinds of movies. There will be a quick battle to prevent the two military men from enjoying that satisfaction of serving a jumpscare if they are talking about having “tasty food” after going hungry for days due to war.

The main flaw in Gulzar’s portrayal of the life of a man who was everything from ordinary is that he chooses a conventional approach. She makes Kaushal embody Manekshaw’s signature charm, but she also forces him to utter corny things to a female he’s meeting for the first time, such “I know I would marry you.” She fully demonstrates his bravery. She also gets a British army physician, who is interrogating Sam while he’s drenched in blood after being shot seven times in his body, to remark, “Anyone with this sense of humor is worth saving. I am aware that Sam has previously recounted these experiences, but their execution lacks the subtlety and nuance that these scenes need in order to have any effect.

The action scenes in these kinds of movies don’t always provide the pleasure you’d expect thanks to Jay I. Patel’s camerawork. There isn’t even one action sequence to talk about, aside from a nighttime battle scene in which the Indian army finds itself encircled by the enemy on all sides in a forest. Sure, it’s a biography rather than an action movie, but it’s based on the life of a man for whom the battlefield and combat were his second home. It’s similar to Ridley Scott creating Napoleon and failing miserably to depict the action sequences, which he masterfully performed. Vicky Kaushal’s acting wasn’t entirely necessary to enliven the sequences; someone like Avik Mukhopadhyay was needed.

Sam once told Indira Gandhi about how, when she asked if he was prepared to go to war with Pakistan, he paraphrased the Bible and replied, “Let there be light & there was light, you said let there be war & there is war.” This demonstrated his bizarre chemistry with Gandhi.

His well-known statement, “I wonder if our political masters in charge of our defense can tell a guerrilla from a gorilla, a mortar from a motor, a gun from a howitzer,” was left out. The famous quote, “A soldier who claims he is not afraid of death is either lying or a Gorkha,” vanished.Additionally, he skipped the part where the then-prime minister Morarji Desai told him, “Drinks and pretty girls will ruin you.” Sam cheekily replied, “They haven’t ruined me so far.” These were only a handful of the things that would have added a few more dramatic sequences that would have revealed more about the character he was.

Story Overview:

Cadet Sam Manekshaw was one of the first class of gentleman cadets to train at the Indian Military Academy in Dehradun in 1934. Tikka Khan, his junior and eventual adversary, was one of his batchmates. After earning his diploma from the academy in that same year, he was assigned to the 12th Frontier Force Regiment, Ferozpur, as a second lieutenant. He meets Siloo Bode shortly after his appointment, and they eventually become married. Manekshaw, who was elevated to the acting rank of major in 1942, is dispatched with the regiment to take part in the Burma campaign during World War II. He suffers an injury at the Battle of Sittang Bridge, but he makes it out alive and is given the Military Cross for valor.

Major Manekshaw rejects an offer from his colleague Maj. Yahya Khan to join the Pakistan Army during the British Indian Army’s 1947 division; instead, he decides to join the Indian Army. Conflict over Kashmir’s sovereignty arises between the two nations once they get independence. Pakistan begins its military operation to seize the area in October 1947. As a result, Indian Home Minister Vallabhbhai Patel and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru send Manekshaw and V. P. Menon to Kashmir, where they are successful in gaining Kashmir’s admission into India. India launches a counterattack, but there is no victory in the conflict.

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In 1959, defense minister V. K. Krishna Menon and Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Brij Mohan Kaul approached Manekshaw, who was then a major general and Commandant of the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington, to get his opinion regarding the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Gen. K. S. Thimayya. Manekshaw rejects them, perceiving their acts as meddling in politics. But Kaul plans to thwart Manekshaw’s impending promotion by setting up a court-martial based on improper behavior; despite this, Manekshaw is cleared by his superiors.

When the Sino-Indian War breaks out in 1962, the Chinese humiliate the Indian army; Kaul steps down and Nehru fires Menon. Nehru appoints Manekshaw as the commanding officer of the IV Corps, Tezpur, and promotes him to lieutenant-general on the advice of Indira Gandhi. He suggests a move forward, but Nehru, crushed by defeat, declines; Indira intervenes on Manekshaw’s behalf. In the North-East Frontier Agency, Manekshaw is able to unite his forces by 1963. After Nehru passes away in 1964, Manekshaw is elevated to the rank of general commanding officer of the Eastern Command, and Indira is named prime minister two years later. Manekshaw participates in anti-insurgency operations against the Mizo National Front between 1965 and 1967, helping to secure the Padma Bhushan for his efforts.

When tensions among the Bengalis in East Pakistan grew in 1969, Yahya—who was by then a general—was nominated president of Pakistan; concurrently, Manekshaw was named the next COAS of the Indian Army and also rose to the rank of general. The Awami League, who are centered in East Pakistan, win the general elections in 1970, but Yahya refuses to give up power, which sparks anti-government demonstrations throughout Pakistan. In retaliation, Yahya gives lieutenant-general Tikka permission to launch Operation Searchlight, a huge anti-Bengali pogrom that he brutally and effectively puts into action. Given the circumstances, Indira is in favor of going to war, but Manekshaw is against it and points out the army’s obstacles; she decides to wait. Indira is warned by the US not to go to war, but she rejects them. The Mukti Bahini are given training by the army after it is deployed.

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Pakistan initiates the first attack, commencing preventative strikes on Indian territory on December 3, 1971. India launches counterattacks in Pakistan’s eastern and western regions right away. There are intense battles between the two armies, and Pakistan suffers heavy losses in the air, sea, and land. The conflict came to a conclusion on December 16 when the Pakistani forces in the east were overrun and submitted to the Eastern Command. In the end, Indira gains a political victory, and Yahya steps down in the face of defeat’s shame. As Manekshaw’s retirement draws near, Indira orders his promotion to field marshal in honor of his leadership during the war; he departs with pride in January 1973.

Star-Studded Performance:

From the very beginning, Vicky Kaushal  works so hard to use him to bring Sam Manekshaw back, and occasionally those attempts even go too far. The physical characteristics are excellent, but the accent is too erratic throughout. Sam had a pretty strange accent, but Kaushal doesn’t catch the tone in a way that makes sense for the same pace. Like Sam, he transitions between languages fluently, and that’s a difficult one to master. Vicky has every opportunity to be the greatest Manekshaw the movies had ever seen, but the writing betrays him.

There’s not much of a difference between the two actors, but Sanya Malhotra, who plays Sam Manekshaw’s wife Siloo, gets obviously irritated every time he returns home to tell about his transfer to another state. Currently, Fatima Sana Shaikh surpasses Flora Jacob in Raid, who didn’t even reveal her face for the part, as the worst Indira Gandhi we’ve seen on screen. When Indira first met Sam and Fatima, she was in her 50s; yet, she doesn’t appear that old at all, and her prosthetics are so shoddy that she really looks more like the real Indira than the character. She’s not even requested to improve her voice, so forget about looking. She appears to be a college student competing in a fancy dress competition on Independence Day, where she is dressed like Indira Gandhi, and she would not have won even if she had entered.

The fate of Fatima’s Indira is also shared by Govind Namdeo as Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Neeraj Kabi as Jawaharlal Nehru. Mohammad Zeeshan Ayyub’s situation is worse since the prosthetics crew made a terrible attempt to replicate Yahya Khan’s appearance. Both Ayyub’s act and his makeup are ostentatious.

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The Concluding Words:

All things considered, this had all the makings of a great military biography, but instead of enhancing the action sequences, we are given black-and-white montages that merely hint at possible financial constraints.

An astounding 2.5 stars!

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