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SARDAR UDHAM (SINGH) - A distinctively made technical marvel with its share of disappointments that manages to find its soul in the final 45 minutes. (Review by Bobby Sing)

17 Oct, 2021 | Movie Reviews / 2021 Releases / Inspired Movies (Alphabetical) / S

The much-awaited film from one of the most talented directors of Indian cinema gave me a lot to think about three crucial points of filmmaking. The target audience, the edit, and the understanding/research made for the most important character of the film, other than the lead.
To begin with, it forced me to guess what would have been the target audience in the writer-director's mind when he conceived the initial 120 minutes of his 162 minutes tiringly long film. The thought originated because these first two hours of the film are certainly going to appeal to the niche audience, the ones well-versed with the technical achievements of film-making, but not the general audience. Entirely based in foreign lands, this major part of the film lacks the feel and warmth of the Indian sentiments associated with the movement of independence and its legendary icons. A quite slow and unengaging, film-festival kind of project in the first two hours (with a mix of Hindi and English), it might compel many to stop continuing or watch it in parts, falling short of the big expectations.

Second, it made me think about the edit which narrates the film in flashback or reverse mode. The most important and inspiring part of Udham Singh’s life is the assassination of Michael O’Dwyer, as his revenge for the inhuman massacre of Jallianwala Bagh in 1919. Unfortunately, the film simply kills that excitement to see the assassination showcasing it in the first 30 minutes itself and then keeps explaining how he managed to do that for the next 90 minutes. It then comes to the other significant part of the story, the depiction of the massacre of 1919. It’s here that the film truly excels in all aspects of filmmaking as well as performances. But keeping it for the end, after two uninteresting hours, remains a questionable decision for sure. In my humble opinion, the sequence comes too late into the film and should have been presented much earlier before the audience following a different narrative or edit keeping the interest alive.

Third, reportedly extensive research was made for the project and its lead character continuing for many years. To state the well-known fact, the biggest, or rather only inspiration of Udham Singh in his young awakened life was Shaheed Bhagat Singh. The film rightly portrays the fact, but comes up with a shocking, casual portrayal of Bhagat Singh’s character on screen, like never seen before in any project on the theme of Indian independence. Personally, I cannot recall any such light-hearted and timid presentation of one of the most iconic characters of our Indian independence movement either in a film, serial, or play to date. This was indeed unexpected and irresponsible, saying the least. And if they did this just to glorify the image of the lead character, Udham Singh, in comparison to his biggest inspiration till death, then that raises major doubts on the research done for the project and its detailed writing.
In fact, the specific sequences featuring both the legends together, are the most casually conceived sequences of the entire film (particularly the one in the end where they are running together). Besides, such is the poor depiction of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, and Sukhdev’s hanging with their faces showing no pride of any kind, that I had to doubt, was it really directed by Sircar after the much-publicized effort put in the extensive research?

Sharing a response, a learned veteran sent me his views that he initially thought this was some other Bhagat Singh and not the legendary character. But later, he surprisingly realized that this was indeed Shaheed Bhagat Singh, portrayed in a strange and unforgivable manner in such an important film.
Lastly, again questioning the ‘said research’, I got no reason from the film that why they called it Sardar Udham instead of Sardar Udham Singh or just Udham Singh. Udham Singh had his identity with Singh and if a team decides to take away the key identity from its lead character in a biopic for no valid reason explained in the script, then it again raises fingers on the research and study made by the talented people. Interestingly, if you see the initial images of the film posted on the internet many months back, then they all have the name mentioned as Sardar Udham Singh. So, what compelled them to take off Singh from the title remains a mystery.

Continuing with the thought, the film also shies away from giving elaborate reasoning for his name announced in the court as Ram Mohammed Singh Azad or was it only Mohammed Singh Azad, the team must have found the exact source. In addition, maybe Shoojit discovered a reference to Udham Singh’s girlfriend too in the history books, which we might have missed. But showcasing such a strong character, holding Bhagat Singh’s picture in his fist while being hanged and remembering the lady-love together, looked like a complete misrepresentation of the man and his thought process. 

Summing up, Sardar Udham Singh is no doubt a technical marvel in terms of art direction, cinematography, background score and presentation on the screen. It’s also a landmark film for its soulful conception and execution of the Jallianwala massacre in the climax. Despite being lengthy, the final 45 minutes of the film make you numb and transport you to the scary times when the divine creator also must have felt the shame for such a heinous act of the British. Addressing the reviewers, writing that this is first ever depiction of the massacre in a mainstream movie, it was recently there in the 2017 film Phillauri featuring Anushka Sharma and Diljit Dosanjh, in a very subtle manner becoming the base of its entire storyline.

However no film or serial till date has pointed towards the ugly fact that while the order was given by the British officer, the guns were all in the hands of Indians working for the British empire. So it was a massacre in which the British used the Indians to kill their own fellow countrymen without giving it a thought. 

Sardar Udham Singh also deserves to be seen for Vicky Kaushal, as the actor puts his heart and soul into the act coming up with his career best performance deserving a big applause. His efforts also need to be praised wholeheartedly, as the gifted youngster never makes you feel that the film could have been much better with Irrfan Khan in the lead. If truth be told, then Irrfan was never missed, and Vicky did complete justice to the character enacting it with conviction.

Perhaps I was looking for a much more effective and focused film from Shoojit Sircar, but this is not as per the expectations, almost entirely relying upon its well-executed climax in a scattered form. Plus, the points mentioned above related to the ‘said research’ do not allow me to recommend it as a great attempt. The film might receive loads of praises and awards in the coming times, but this actually deserves to be seen only for Vicky Kaushal and the climax more than anything else.

And the name would always respectfully be SHAHEED UDHAM SINGH, because books or biopics have no right to distort a name, taking away the representative identity of the protagonist. 

Rating : 3 / 5
(Directly released on Amazon Prime)

Bobby Sing

Tags : Sardar Udham Reviews By Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, Sardar Udham Singh Reviews by Bobby Sing, New Hindi Films Reviews by Bobby Sing, Patriotic Movies, New Bollywood Movies Reviews by Bobby Sing
17 Oct 2021 / Comments ( 6 )

Sat Sri Akal Bobby ji, the review is fantastic and the last line is well said.

Bobby Sing

Thankg Gobindpreet. If possible do share further to make it reach more in your friend circle.


Absolutely Bobby ji, will make sure to spread it across as much as possible.

Bobby Sing

Thanks Gobindpreet.
Keep Visiting and Writing in.

Shakil warsi

Honest and indepth review from you as usual۔۔۔your observation is complete with detailed perusal۔  yet I liked the film very much overlooking the flaws ۔۔۔great attempt

Bobby Sing

Thanks Shakil Ji.
The film is no doubt good, but its not any classic and the delibrate unpardonable mistakes cannot be ignored so prominently made in the title itself.
Secondly, when something great comes in a film after two hours of nothing great then it isnt any great cinema to be honest.

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