Sardar Udham streaming on Prime Video, is about Udham a pre-independence revolutionary, it is about his acts of valour, his history of events and the mystery around him. He is revolutionist , unknown hero you we all need to know. We like to caution it is a slow movie, and if you love acts of revolution, it is worth the time.
Shoojit Sarkar has tried to breakaway from his film making thoughts and has attempted to present Sardar Udham as the man to be remembered, and drawn parallel to Bhagat Singh or Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, and they — unlike Mahatma Gandhi – believed that the country could free itself of British shackles only through guns and bullets.
The Bipoic of Udham’s (Vicky Kaushal) begins with introduction of his early life, his love for Reshma and later his steadfast determination to take revenge on Dwyer. The ambience of revenge is captured through a series of powerful images highlighted by Kaushal and Eileen Palmer (Kirsty Averton), who becomes Udham’s friend in London.
So, when Sardar Udham is finally sentenced to death after a sham of a trial in which the judge gives little time or space to the defence counsel, Palmer pleads with Udham to seek pardon. “You will live,” she implores. He refuses, saying that he is not a killer but a revolutionary. So he would not do that, but choose to hang.
Going back to the history, on March 13, 1940, Udham Singh avenged the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar by assassinating Punjab’s former Lieutenant Governor Michael O’Dwyer in London. While Reginald Dyer was the one who gave the orders to mow down unarmed protestors in the walled garden on April 13, 1919, O’Dwyer “gave his tacit encouragement, and explicit approval, for the violent suppression of the unrest in Punjab”, writes historian Kim A Wagner in Jallianwala Bagh.
Sardar Udham Movie Review: A revolutionist, obsessed with vendetta
Udham waited for over two decades for revenge. The movie about Udham’s slow-burning exploit plays out mostly as a one-hander. Sircar’s Udham, played by Vicky Kaushal, emerges as a magnificently obsessed individual, driven by the desire for freedom from colonisation and closure on Jallianwala Bagh.
Sardar Udham follows a handful of biopics about a historical figure whose colourful life readily lends itself to fictionalisation. Writer Anu Kumar points out in a profile of Udham Singh for Scroll.in that he evades easy categorisation. Before he wrote himself into history books, Udham Singh was a mechanic, salesman, carpenter, welder, and, most fascinatingly, a bit-part actor in the Orientalist productions of British movie mogul Alexander Korda.
The creators of Sardar Udham, which is being streamed on Amazon Prime Video, bravely but also puzzlingly resist the temptation to include what might have been a shoo-in – Udham Singh as a movie extra, putting on make-up and hanging around in the background, adding yet another mask to the many he wore across his 40-year existence.
The massacre and its aftermath are depicted in gruesome, harrowing and excruciating detail. As Udham winds his way through rows of corpses in search of survivors, Vicky Kaushal reaches his dramatic peak.
Solid as a bearded young man in love in Punjab and a clean-shaven revolutionary in London, Kaushal is especially impressive in the Jallianwala Bagh sequence. Overwhelmed by the scale of mindless death, Udham can do little more than wheel victims to safety. Sircar milks the moment for all it is worth, trading concision for effect.
Saradar Udham final thoughts
In the 147 minutes, and there are so many needlessly prolonged scenes which drag the film down, making it a tad difficult to sit through. The massacre part is repetitive and repulsive, and need not have been so long, even if Sircar had meant to highlight the bloody killings at Jallianwala Bagh.
Even Udham’s struggles on snow-filled Russian terrain were not quite necessary, at least not at that length. To me, all these seemed over cooked, and the handling of the massacre was tasteless. Sircar’s control over the medium which he displayed with admirable imagination while writing Pink, a courtroom drama with Bachchan at the helm, seems to be lacking in Sardar Udham.
If you love revolutionary acts, and biopic, this could be a movie worth your time.