Kesari – A worthy expression in Celluloid about the valour & bravery of 21 gallant Sikhs

By April 19, 2019 LifeStyle

The strong Indian conviction to fight against all odds and the single-minded passion to achieve their goals in a noble manner: Kesari, Manikarnika, Uri, Raazi and in many ways, Gully Boy too

I recently saw Kesari, the movie on the Battle of Saragarhi in 1897 fought between 21 gallant Sikh soldiers of the 36th Sikh Regiment of the then British Indian Army and around 10,000 Afghans (Pashtun Orakzai tribesmen). It occurred in the North West Frontier Province (now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan).

Kesari, another worthy film to the growing list of wonderful Indian films

Along with other recent movies like Manikarnika and Uri, this movie too showcases the tremendous progress made by the Indian Film Industry in terms of the top class quality of the overall film – comparable to the best in the world. The excellent camerawork, no doubt aided by computer graphics, the tight script, taut screenplay, excellent edit, the convincing action sequences and the uniformly good acting by pretty much all the actors, ably led by Akshay Kumar make this a memorable movie watching experience just like Uri, Manikarnika, Raazi and Gully Boy.

Strong courage of conviction of the hero/heroine

One other important commonality among all these movies is the strong courage of conviction of the protagonists and the steely determination and single minded focus to achieve their goal, irrespective of possible harm to themselves. In all these movies, they fight against all odds and yet do not take a backward step and achieve their objective by playing by the rules and not by taking any short cuts.

Even in Raazi, the Spy Thriller, which like the others is based on a real life story, the heroine doesn’t harm anyone unless it is absolutely necessary and is in fact full of remorse that she has duped her husband and in laws, albeit for a bigger, noble cause.

Back to Kesari

Havildar Ishar Singh, brilliantly portrayed by Akshay with a lot of conviction takes this nobleness a step further. He insists on his khansama (the term used by the British for cook) to give water to the wounded among the enemy too. More importantly, well before the epoch battle commences, Ishar Singh helps the local village by rebuilding their mosque which is in ruins. He convinces his 20 gallant men to assist him in this noble task, reminding them that the foundation stone of Sri Harmandir Sahib, the holiest Gurdwara, i.e. the Golden Temple in Amritsar, was laid by a Muslim Pir (saint) Hazrat Mian Mir Ji of Lahore, at the request of the then Guru Arjan Sahib, the Fifth Nanak.

Historical Background

In early 19th Century, the ruler of the Sikh Empire, the great Maharaja Ranjit Singh had built a series of forts in the Hindu Kush Mountains. The British consolidated them with two of the forts Fort Lockhart (on the Samana Range in the Hindu Kush Mountains) and Fort Gulistan (Sulaiman Range) situated a few miles apart. Due to these two not being visible to each other, Saragarhi was created midway, as a heliographic communication post.

What is Heliographic equipment?

Derived from helios (Greek word for Sun) and graphein (meaning white), heliograph is a wireless telegraph that signals by flashes of sunlight (usually using Morse code, used in telegrams) reflected by a mirror. The flashes are produced by momentarily pivoting the mirror, or by interrupting the beam with a shutter.

I am not going to reveal any more about Kesari as I do not want to spoil the fun for all you readers who I am sure would like to watch this wonderful movie.

Conclusion: This Battle deserves an immortal poem

The Charge of the Light Brigade of a British light cavalry against heavily armed Russian forces has been immortalized by Lord Alfred Tennyson’s poem of the same name (many of us may recall reading it in school). I wish someone immortalizes the Battle of Sargarhi where the 21 gallant Sikh soldiers ably led by Havildar Ishar Singh takes on a 10,000 strong Afghan contingent.

Tail piece

Whilst all the other four films – Kesari, Manikarnika, Raazi and Uri – are based upon war and battles, many of you may wonder as to why I have included Gully Boy in this list.

What is common in Gully Boy with the others is the courage of conviction of the hero and his single minded focus and determination to overcome his odds, including his abject poverty, living in one of the biggest slums and his violent father. And yet, when he at last achieves his goal, he forgives and forgets his father and everyone else who were impediments on his journey to become a rapper.

This is very much similar to

• Kesari not attacking a young kid among the 10,000 strong Afghans,

• Uri’s hero Major Vihaan Singh Shergill sparing the life of the innocent young kid in the terrorist camp,

• Raazi’s heroine Sehmat, full of remorse towards her unsuspecting Pakistani husband and not only does not kill him but goes on to have their child,

• Manikarnika does not kill the tiger terrorizing the villagers but only injures it and then gets it treated.

All in all, Kesari is a “must see” film.