Film: URI: The Surgical Strike
Writer/Director: Aditya Dhar
Actors: Vicky Kaushal, Yami Gautam, Mohit Raina, Paresh Rawal, Kirti Kulhari
Review: A film without surgical details
Rating: 2.5“URI: The Surgical Strike” is an Indian cinema in the Hindi language starring Vicky Kaushal, Yami Gautam, Mohit Raina and Paresh Rawal in lead roles and Kirti Kulhari in a very special appearance. The movie is produced by RSVP owned by Ronnie Screwvala and is written and directed by Aditya Dhar. This film is based on the true incidents surrounding the surgical strike carried out by India over the terrorist launch pads of Pakistan in the month of September 2016, which was a retaliation to sleeping Indian soldiers being killed by Pakistani terrorists on 18th September 2016 in URI, J&K.
On the 18th of September 2016, 4 infiltrators had attacked and burned an Army base camp close to URI, J&K in the wee hours of morning and thus taking the Indian soldiers by surprise, killing 10 soldiers. It was one of the most ghastly attacks on Indian forces in the recent times. As a retaliation, within 10 days, India had conducted an extremely successful surgical strike on Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) in the wee hours of 29th September 2016 and destroyed a lot of terrorist bases and launch pads. This film is based on the facts from that mission and the history preceding it.
The film is written and directed by Aditya Dhar, who has earlier penned the dialogues for films like Aakrosh and Tezz and the lyrics for Kabul Express and stars Vicky Kaushal in the lead role who has the played the character for Major Vihaan Shergill who leads the Surgical Strike. Vihaan has a personal reason for doing so, because the attack on URI army base had resulted in the killing of his childhood friend and brother-in-law, Major Karan (played by Mohit Raina).
Vihaan is handed over the responsibility for the attack partly because he had a personal anger towards the perpetrators of the URI tragedy and partly because he had already demonstrated his skills of a successful on ground Surgical Strike on insurgents in the North East in 2015 when the Indian Army had successfully neutralized 80 terrorists along the Indo-Myanmar Border.
With IB Agent Pallavi’s (played by Yami Gautam) intelligence antics, under the able guidance of Govind (played by Paresh Rawal whose character is influenced by Ajit Doval) and politically protected by the Prime Minister of India (played by Rajit Kapoor), Major Vihaan carries out a successful Surgical Strike on the Terror launch Pads in POK on the other side of the of the Line of Control (LOC).
The film covers the technical details about the preparation for the mission and the gathering of he intel with finesse but with sufficient amount of creative liberty and that is where the film becomes commercial. Many factual details like Indian army conducting extensive reconnaissance operations inside POK by staying put there for 4 days continuously (as shown in the documentary on History Channel) before the strike have been totally omitted and this was a crucial factor in gathering intelligence.
The film could have focused on these facets rather than adding the extra drama of enhanced radar activity forcing Vihaan’s battalion to take a land route and engage in hand to hand combat with the terrorists.
Also, the angle of his mother having Alzheimer’s and the role of Yami therein serve no purpose other than to establish the fact that some Indian defense officers were kept under protective surveillance for a short period of time following the Myanmar Attack, but that had no connection with the URI attack and post conclusion of that episode, the URI episode begins suddenly and the screenplay has an abrupt jump there.
One good point of the movie is that the film does not go overboard on patriotism. It has enough patriotism for an army film but not one that shoves it down your throat.
Performances by Vicky Kaushal and Paresh Rawal are memorable and Vicky continues to deliver the good cinema to us that he has been doing since quite some time. The scene of his childhood friend and brother-in-law’s funeral has been shot emotionally and gives us a glimpse into this dark reality of army families – of those men who lay down their lives for the country.
Overall, the film can be a good one time watch but it could have been much better in terms of execution and remaining true to the facts. Our filmmakers seem to be obsessed with the fact that if the hero’s team returns from a mission without any casualties, then it is wrong cinema. On the contrary, at times, in films like these, it might just be the right cinema. The twisting of facts in the final mission mars the beautiful attempt of documenting Indian Army’s one of the most daring and successful missions against terrorism.
I give this film a rating of 2.5. If you love the Indian army for what it does to keep the nation safe, then do watch the film and we can still love it with its certain flaws.