Shershaah and Bhuj: The Pride of India – on the surface, both these movies deal with a story of patriotism and heroism which has found many takers in recent times. Ever since Vicky Kaushal and Aditya Dhar burst into the scene with Uri: The Surgical Strike, there has been a rush to produce and make movies on the Indian Army, wars, patriotism, nationalistic fervour and connected issues. And they have worked wonderfully. They have found a solid fanbase on social media and helped take away the taint from Bollywood. For those who are unaware, many have accused Bollywood of being “unpatriotic” despite the fact that movies like Border and LOC: Kargil have come out of this film industry.
Shershaah and Bhuj: The Pride of India released around the same time. Shershaah was backed by Karan Johar, Sidharth Malhotra and Kiara Advani while Bhuj was backed by Ajay Devgn, Sanjay Dutt, Nora Fatehi, Sonakshi Sinha and Sharad Kelkar. Shershaah was the story of Kargil war hero Captain Vikram Batra (PVC) while Bhuj was based on the attack on the Bhuj airbase and the brave response by the Indian side.
However, while Shershaah has soared to stratospheric heights and gained a massive following, Bhuj was a massive dud. Shershaah resurrected Sidharth Malhotra’s career and shot him back into A-lister status. It also gave us the new it couple in town – Sid and Kiara. Bhuj was such a massive flop that nobody spoke about it much even on the day of release and its lead stars have slowly distanced themselves from the project.
What worked in Shershaah’s favour? For starters, the story of Captain Vikram Batra is as filmy as it gets. His love story with Dimple Cheema is a love story for the ages. It’s right up there with Raj and Simran and Aditya and Geet. What also helped Shershaah was that Captain Batra’s family were completely in favour of the movie and the casting. Sidharth and Kiara are also “outsiders” and hence, don’t carry the mark of being “star kids”.
Had this movie starred anyone from the Kapoor or Bhatt brigade, there would have been a major controversy because people hate the Bollywood “insiders” almost as much as they hate logical arguments on Twitter. Shershaah also had a brilliant OST with strong tracks from Jasleen Royal and B Praak. Ranjha and Rataan Lambiyaan have made it to global Billboard lists because of the airtime they have enjoyed. This was a refreshing change from the remixes that Bollywood usually puts out.
While Captain Vikram Batra and Dimple Cheema’s love story is all things wonderful, Sidharth and Kiara have also done total justice to it. The couple truly look in love in the movie. Kiara is the classically ideal Bollywood girlfriend as can be seen from her performances in Dhoni, Kabir Singh and Shershaah. For once, Sidharth Malhotra looks comfortable. It’s like he knows that he was born to do this role and is glad to be given a chance to do it.
But what primarily works in favour of Shershaah is that it is a story of Indian bravery and not a story of Pakistan’s cowardice. It glorifies our soldiers without making the enemy the focal point of the story. Yes, that is possible to do and Shershaah proves that. Why should one focus on an enemy army that refused to accept the bodies of its dead soldiers? Why should one focus on a country that has constantly waged war against India? Instead, Shershaah focus on the Indian Army’s bravery and code of honour. Pakistan is just a footnote in the movie.
On the other hand, Bhuj: The Pride of India does the complete opposite. Ajay Devgn doesn’t resemble any Indian soldier. He is Bollywood’s version of what bravery looks like which is basically Salman Khan levels of stupid action. The story also has an item number starring Nora Fatehi because why not. Imagine that – a war movie with an item number. Yuck.
Instead of focusing on the brave women of Bhuj, the story focuses on ridiculously impossible action stunts pulled off by Ajay Devgn who thought he was doing Tiger 3 instead of Bhuj. It’s a joke. And it’s not funny anymore. People are getting tired of producers capitalising on the deaths of our soldiers and hopefully, Bollywood has learned its lesson.
“Restraint in war dramas may seem like an oxymoron at all times, yet in these challenging times, this team has shown that it is possible. Shershaah is proof that you can recount a deadly conflict without Akshay Kumar roaring at a crowd of Pathans, without Sunny Deol bellowing at Pakistanis and without conveniently caricaturing the “dushman” as a marauding mob or cowering buffoons,” writes Anna Vetticad in her review for Shershaah and that sums up what we’re trying to say.
[All Images Credit: IMDb]