This period war-drama showcases the 1897 Battle of Saragarhi. The plot focuses on Havildar Ishar Singh who led a platoon of 21 Sikhs against an invading army of 10,000 Afghans to defend the North-West Frontier Province. The event is considered one of the greatest last-stands in history.
Based on the true story of the Battle of Saragarhi in which an army of 21 Sikhs fought against 10,000 Afghans in 1897. While on a minor patrol, Singh and his fellow Sikhs see a woman about to be punished for refusing to marry an older man. Her punishment is beheading. Singh wants to stop the killing. The British office in charge doesn’t want to bother or get involved. He orders his men to do nothing.
Singh can’t just stand and watch. He charges in and kills the man just before he beheads the woman. The rest of the Sikhs take part as well in the mayhem and all get away. After the return to their fort, the commanding British officer, two forts away, wants Singh punished. There are three main British forts. Two of the forts have substantial armies, mostly Sikhs, with the third fort acting as a relay point for sending messages between the two. Singh is given a promotion and sent to command the middle fort which has no troops. The promotion is a sham. By sending Singh to the middle fort he is out of the jealous British officer’s hair. Singh is being punished.
Journeying to the fort we see Singh meeting the woman who wasn’t beheaded and we see him talking to his wife in a day dream. The barren countryside is beautiful with streambeds and mountains behind. We see Singh meeting and wooing his wife. The film has great images. He arrives one day early and his 20 soldiers are involved in a cock fight and almost all are out of uniform. He changes this and turns them back into crack soldiers. We see a Bollywood dance and see personal stories and marvel at how these soldiers interact and help the local community.
But their day of reckoning soon comes with the advance of ten thousand Afghan tribesmen. Singh is offered the opportunity to retreat. He refuses. The rest is heroism and defiance. Be sure to catch his final report back to his superior officer. Ishwar Singh and his 20 soldiers fight with the Afghans until their last breath. Even the cook, not a Sikh, stays and supplies water to both the Sikhs and the Afghans, and dies.
Official Trailer – imdb.com/video/vi2781133849
A Reader’s Review
“Undoubtedly the best of this genre in the Indian Cinema.
I wouldn’t want to leave any spoilers, but do watch this movie. It’s definitely a must watch although I was pretty late for the same. After watching it, I salute the Sikh with great respect to them. Akshay Kumar, once again, has done a remarkable job proving why he has been the best in the business since last 3 years. The movie’s collection didn’t do justice to this Epic, full of emotions movie, however the reason I must say could be the religion prospect. I would like you to leave that part for a while, and watch the movie. For a bit, enjoy yourself, and have no grudge for any community/religion be it Muslim/Sikh/Hindu or even the Poor! Lead the life with the justice to serve humanity, however, if not so, then don’t let anything happen in this society that spreads religious terror. Stay happy and make the world Smile. Jai Hind!” pawan punjabi
Havildar Ishar Singh is portrayed by Akshay Kumar. Kumar does all his own stunts . . . and there are lots of them in this film. He received his martial arts training in Hong Kong. His skills are phenomenal. He was perfectly cast and dressed. The beard on the other hand . . . not so much.
We found Kesari on Prime. I’ve watched this film three times and will watch it again. Peggy has seen it twice and enjoys the story and the beauty, although she thinks a small Sikh outfit in the wilderness would not necessarily have such beautiful uniforms, but that’s the movies!
Susanne Bacon says
Must watch this! Thank you, Don and peg, for reviewing movies that are very obviously NOT mainstream but well worth watching.
I think the Sikh nation is a very strongly present but overlooked one. Here in the PNW, we see a lot of them driving cabs – the quiet guys with the neatly wound turbans … Unfortunately, due to their traditional clothing they often meet prejudice and are mixed up with other religious ethnicities. The Sikh have strong humane values, are egalitarian, and have been among the most courageous warriors in history.
You might also be interested in the movies “Bend it Like Beckham”, a true family movie, and the historical movie “The Black Prince”. Needless to say, there is a lot of intriguing literature out there – I think you just made me even more curious about this topic!