Movie Name: Sardar Udham
Directed by: Shoojit Sircar
Starring: Vicky Kaushal, Banita Sandhu, Amol Parashar
Genre: Drama, Crime, Biography
Release Date: 16 October, 2021
Running Time: 162 minutes
Original Network: Amazon Prime Video
Indian Revolutionary Udham Singh whose better known for the assassination of Michael O Dwyer in London, who was behind the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre on April 13, 1919. The story sets out how Udham Singh survived the massacre on day of Baisakhi which killed around 400 people and injured around 1000 and avenges those who died.
Sardar Udham is an upcoming Indian Hindi-language biographical film about Udham Singh, a revolutionary freedom fighter best known for assassinating Michael O’Dwyer in London to take revenge for 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar. Starring Vicky Kaushal as Singh, the film is directed by Shoojit Sircar and produced by Rising Sun Films in collaboration with Kino Works. The film will premiere in 16 October 2021 on Amazon Prime Video.
Sardar Udham Singh, a biopic of Udham Singh was officially announced on 4 March 2019, starring Vicky Kaushal and directed by Shoojit Sircar, who called it his dream project.
Shooting kicked off in London in April 2019, and also took place in Russia, United Kingdom, Europe, Ireland, Germany and North India. The film was wrapped up on 27 December 2019 in Europe.
Initially announced for theatrical premiere on Gandhi Jayanti 2020, the release date of Sardar Udham was postponed due to some unavoidable reasons. The film will premiere in 16 October 2021 on Amazon Prime Video.
Sardar Udham: Movie Trailer
Vicky Kaushal is bewitching in one of the boldest, most traumatising Hindi films ever made
There are undeniable parallels in the stories of director Shoojit Sircar and the subject of his latest film, Sardar Udham. Shoojit burned almost 20 years to make this film, clearly the most passionate of his passion projects. This was the story he wanted to tell when he arrived in Mumbai from Delhi. However, a shortage of funds or support would not let him realise this dream for almost two decades. Sardar Udham Singh also took 20 years to realise his dream—avenging the bloodbath in his home, the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre. Fortunately for us, who are breathing in a free nation or watching this masterpiece of a film, neither was willing to live a compromise. A simple murder won’t do, neither would a less than perfect retelling of it.
Sardar Udham checks all the boxes, especially the biggest ones—intent and execution. At the core of it, the film is simply the story of a hero’s journey for revenge against a villain who destroyed all that he once loved. We have read and watched iterations of it all our lives but rarely is it told with such intensity and nuance. Udham (played by Vicky Kaushal) was a young boy when he witnessed one of the most brutal massacres in world history. It is trauma that leaps through generations, so clearly, enough for him to dedicate his life and death to slaying that villain who caused it. Shoojit, however, makes sure not to take the simple route.
Shoojit Sircar proves that slice of life is not the only thing he is great at. Vicky Kaushal is spectacular.
The villainy of Michael O’Dwyer (played by Shaun Scott), the man responsible for it all, is nailed in your head through multiple scenes. Whether it is him delivering speeches about the ‘burden of the white man’ to save India from a return to savagery or defending the ‘necessity’ of murdering thousands while sipping on scotch in his mansion, there are several occasions for you to feel some sparks in your chest of the rage that burned in Udham for years.
While disgust for O’Dwyer keeps piling on, Udham’s act of true heroism is revealed only in the last one hour of the film. And trust me, nothing can prepare you for that final hour. Rarely has there been a Hindi film so unafraid to be bold and unwilling to gently depict the truth of the violence and sheer horror that still simmers in those it once affected. Shoojit is relentless, forcing you to sit through almost 60 minutes of excruciating visuals, as if punishing you for not reminding yourself about the incident often enough. Its effect, however, is not something most viewers would agree on.
With production quality at par with Hollywood wartime movies that often become Oscar darlings, Shoojit leaves no stone unturned to keep you arrested in the world he has created. This is his first period film in almost 15 years but there is not a single edit note I can add at the bottom of any scene for even a mild correction. Did Amol Parashar’s Bhagat Singh sound more like a hopeful GenZ something from JNU rather than a DAV-educated boy from Lahore? Yes. But I am hoping that the tiny tweak was all intentional.
The amount of money pumped into this is evident from the details with which the England of 1933-1940 is recreated. The gloomy London sets, with their double-decker buses, vintage ambulance and police vans, Scotland Yard officers in their high hats, or the women in heels running along control rooms, add to the overall authenticity of the film. And thankfully, no white actor (who make for almost 80% of the film’s cast) ever speaks Hindi without reason.
However, all of this would have been rendered much less impactful without Vicky Kaushal’s talent. He delivers a performance of a lifetime as Sardar Udham and does it through three stages of his life. He is enigmatic as the spy-type, making his way through the streets of London with murder on his mind. He is also a revolutionary as he belts poetic speeches about freedom. But he is most impressive as the 19-year-old boy from Amritsar, thrown into horrors beyond anyone’s imagination. He is the frolicking boy in love at once but when that dreaded final hour arrives, Vicky leaves you with your nails digging into your own fists. The exhaustion of his body and the desperation on his face cannot leave anyone unaffected.
Sardar Udham, if there was ever any doubt, also proves once again that Shoojit Sircar is in top form and among the most dependable filmmakers in Hindi cinema right now. From slices of lives to biographies on historical heroes, he has been able to give his distinct stamp to any idea he has picked up. Hope the streak continues another 20 years.