By Ishani Chettri (‘20)
On September 19, 2016, an Indian military base camp was attacked by four Pakistani terrorists as Indian army soldiers were getting up for the day in Uri, Kashmir. The terrorists killed 19 unarmed soldiers and were killed themselves by notified Indian soldiers during the attack.
The sudden tragedy was a stab to India’s national security and to the pride for its troops as government officials, fellow soldiers, and the deceased’s families mourned the tragic loss of the 19 Indian army soldiers. In a span of 10 days, India devised and carried out a top-secret plan to launch a surgical strike in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) on four terrorist camps located within the region.
This is the plot of Bollywood’s newest blockbuster hit, Uri - The Surgical Strike. Directed by Aditya Dhar, the film stars Vicky Kaushal as the lead role alongside Yami Gautam, Paresh Rawal, and many more.
It released on January 11, 2019, and made over 300 crores which is equivalent to around 46 million dollars a month after its release. It quickly became Bollywood’s first hit movie of 2019, launching the male lead actor Vicky Kaushal into stardom.
The movie is split into five parts that cover from June 2015 up to the morning after the surgical strike was completed: The Seven Sisters, An Unsettling Peace, Bleed India with a Thousand Cuts, Naya Hindustan (New India), and The Surgical Strike.
Vicky Kaushal plays Indian Army Major Vihaan Singh Shergill who aides in the organization of the strike to avenge his brother-in-law Major Karan Kashyap who died in the attack.
One of the elements that surprised me in the film was the use of the several departments that were involved to help carry out this surgical strike in 10 days. From using drones that looked like birds (Garudas) to double agents placed within Pakistan who had created connections with Pakistani government officials to the work of commandos training the soldiers who were going to carry out the strike, India put their 100% effort and time into this top-secret mission to eliminate two terrorists leaders within 4 different locations in Pakistan.
India not only avenged the deaths of the 19 soldiers lost in Uri but also showed Pakistan that they wouldn’t be pushed around anymore. Additionally, Pakistan wasn’t seen as an evil nation - as it usually is in certain movies - but was portrayed in a neutral aspect that showcased the tensions between the two conflicting nations. There was no prejudice towards Pakistanis themselves but rather towards the terrorists' grounds and organizations that breed there.
There is even a scene of three Muslims who were part of the team in the surgical strike that were praying before carrying out their designated sites to show that this wasn’t an attack on religions, but for justice.
Kaushal delivers a jaw-dropping performance as a caring yet strict and ruthless Indian Army Major as his grueling scenes of brutally killing the terrorists portrayed his dedicated nature to the demanding role.
Personally, the most heart-wrenching scene of the film was during Kashyap’s funeral when his daughter salutes his coffin and shouts out his regiment’s war cry in full on tears. The director made the right decision to suddenly zoom up and have the niece crying her heart out in this heartbreaking moment as the scene moved many to tears in the theater. It was an emotionally heavy scene that made me realize the pain of losing someone who’s on active duty and the risks soldiers take every day to protect the safety of a country and its people.
So why should you watch it? This tragedy still has its consequences to this day and it has been made into a blockbuster hit that is nerve-wracking but exhilarating at the same time. It portrays the determination of India and the Indian Army who risked their lives to avenge the lives of their fellow countrymen. Additionally, it adds on to the ongoing Kashmir conflict that has been prevalent since the Partition in 1947. There is also this sense of pride that exudes from Kaushal’s performance as an Indian army soldier that amazed me and the audience throughout the entire movie along with the fighting catchphrase, “How’s the josh?!" or "How’s the spirit?!” To which we all should respond with, “HIGH SIR!”
Check out Uri - The Surgical Strike, a well-made rendition of the attack that India will never forget.