Lauding heroism in war movies is an easy sell to mass audiences but URI stays clear of jingoistic grandstanding or flag-waving patriotism.
Director: Aditya Dhar
Cast: Vicky Kaushal, Paresh Rawal, Yami Gautam, Kirti Kulhari, Swaroop Sampat, Mohit Raina and Rajit Kapur.
URI - The Surgical Strike is based on the 2016 Indian Army's surgical strikes on Pakistan Administered Kashmir as retaliation for the Uri attack. Directed by debutant Aditya Dhar, the movie is a harrowing adventure behind the headlines that is at once a riveting procedural and, at the same time, a bracing political statement on the war based on terror. The movie succeeds in generating enormous tension by dramatizing a recent historical event in spite of the fact that everyone knows how it will end.
On 18 September 2016, four heavily armed militants attacked on Indian security forces near the town of Uri in Jammu and Kashmir. Film URI chronicles the events of the surgical strike. The fictional story based on this true event recounts the fatal operation which was carried out in 2016.
The movie is divided into five chapters that lead to the finale of surgical strike. Major Vihan Singh Shergill (Vicky Kaushal), a brave and determined officer, is grappling with personal tragedy. Govind (Paresh Rawal), an Indian intelligence & law enforcement officer, appoints Vihan for the highly secretive operation of surgical strike that’s planned under the guidance of PM Narendra Modi (Rajit Kapur). It's up to Vihan and his special team force to accomplish this daredevil mission. Will they succeed?
URI is a remarkable and engaging piece of filmmaking considering the outcome of the story is already well known. We know how it all turns out; yet remain mesmerised by familiar details, filmed with a harrowing sense of urgency. That shows debutant Aditya Dhar's skill as a director. The movie is realistic in general, but in some parts the amount of action and the dose of machoism with dialogues such as ‘unhe Kashmir chaihye, humein unka sar’ tells us it's not a completely real war environment recreated.
Nonetheless, the incredible visuals throughout the movie are captivating from start to finish showing the horrors that befall soldiers at war. Almost a biography of the soldier, it shows the differing attitudes of soldiers in and out of war zones and their motivations for being there. The film appeals to fans of action movies, and the fact that it is based on true events complements to that appeal. It's an odd-duck movie in that the ending is never in doubt; only the path to the goal.
Lauding heroism in war movies is an easy sell to mass audiences but URI stays clear of jingoistic grandstanding or flag-waving patriotism. The screenplay manages to gives us a sense of the ups and downs, the mistakes and good fortunes of those involved. It's a mystery, a thriller and finally a stunningly photographed military raid. The combat sequences, mostly set in the unsettling dark, are nicely choreographed. The background score and the clever use of silence at certain moments successfully dials up the intensity. Even though the depiction of war is gruesome and gory, it just had to be that way. The violence is brutal, bloody, and well crafted.
The central premise is what keeps the movie standing out from the rest of the genre. Seldom is a war movie driven by interesting plot when it's usually a random series of events, typically battle scenes, which hold these movies together. In URI, the premise is simple, yet effective adorned with the layer of emotions. Our protagonist, a doggedly determined Major played by Vicky Kaushal, never loses sight of his goal in spite of repeated setbacks and bouts of personal loss. In the lead performance, Kaushal initially feels like an odd choice to play a Major but Kaushal is fine. He nicely portrays a man with a plenty of inner turmoil despite his confident persona. For all intents and purposes, he delivers a competent performance. However, the script does not lay out much to the supporting characters and most of them read like stereotypes and serviceable to the narrative. While Kirti Kulhari and debutant Mohit Raina leave the mark in their limited appearance, other actors like Paresh Rawal, Yami Gautam, Rajit Kapur, Swaroop Sampat fall short to leave necessary impact thanks to their sketchily written roles.
In the end, URI is a solid action/political thriller and one that has a lot of great moments with Dhar showing mastery in storytelling, control in creating intensity and a great performance from the lead, Vicky Kaushal. Movies like this are not to be missed.