Kesari is based on the story of the 1897 war at Saragarhi which is claimed to be the bravest battle fought in history. The movie stars Akshay Kumar in the lead role who becomes a symbol of valor in a time of crisis.
Set in the time of the British rule, the movie revolves around the Battle of Saragarhi which was fought in 1897 in the Northwestern frontier province (present-day Pakistan). Saragarhi was a small fort which was used as the conveyor of messages between military forts of Gulistan and Lockhart.
Hawaldar Ishar Singh (Akshay Kumar) witnesses an Afghan woman being abused and saves her from being killed by going against the orders of his superior white officer. Immediate action is taken and Ishar is transferred from Gulistan to Saragarhi, a base where nothing takes place. The 36th Sikh Regiment consists of only 21 soldiers and Ishar is made their in-charge.
10,000 Afghans, headed by Khan Masud and Mullah, charged towards Saragarhi on 12th of September with the hope of capturing all three of the fortresses in a single day. The story depicts how 21 Sikh soldiers bravely fought against the Afghans when they had a chance to flee.
With a 160 minute run time, the first half of the movie focuses on establishing the characters and the background story. The second half is concerned solely with the war. The first half might seem a bit dragged but overall the movie holds a good pace and doesn’t bore you. The settings are both a product of CGI and real locations. Action scenes are well thought out and well executed. Every shot captures the essence of the time.
Akshay Kumar carries the film on his shoulders throughout. It is a one-man show that doesn’t fail to deliver. With the enormous turban and a proud yet carefree attitude, he manages to impress. Parineeti Chopra plays a cameo of Ishar’s wife. She is convincing as a quintessential Punjabi wife. Rakesh Chaturvedi Om as Mullah Saidullah, Mir Sarwar as Khan Masud and Ashwath Bhatt as Gul Badshah Khan bring in the authenticity of Afghans.
The war drama is written by Girish Kohli and Anurag Singh. The direction was done by Anurag Singh and co-produced by Dharma Productions, Cape of Good Films, Azure Entertainment and Zee Studios. The cinematography and visual effects are appealing. The movie has a few songs that are used as a background score well.
The movie succeeds in instilling a patriotic and proud feeling in the audience. Even though the battle was fought for the British Indian Army, the screenplay doesn’t glorify their rule. All the pride and respect belongs to the Sikh jawans of the regiment which is clear on the celluloid.