MAJOR (2022)

Adivi Sesh in a still
  • Release Date: 03/06/2022
  • Cast: Adivi Sesh, Prakash Raj, Revathi, Saiee Manjrekar, Sobhita Dhulipala
  • Director: Sashi Kiran Tikka

The ballad of Shaheed Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan is the sprawling epic that we deserved

— Ambar Chatterjee

Advi Sesh has always impressed me with his fantastic choice of films and his wholehearted surrender to every character that he chose to play. His last three films for me were KshanamGoodachari, and Evaru. Each of these films was mighty impressive and was as different from the other as was possible. Thus when I learned that he was about to play Shaheed Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan in a bilingual film about the life of the Ashok Chakra winner Braveheart who single-handedly killed atleast three terrorists in the Taj during the 26/11 attacks, my excitement knew no bounds.

The film was postponed multiple times due to the pandemic and with each delay, my excitement for it only increased. Once the teaser of the film was released, it became apparent that the film was on the right track. The trailer of the film further cemented my belief that this would be an inspiring fare. After watching the film yesterday in a practically empty theater, I can only say that the people should immediately give this film a chance as it is in all eventualities one of the best films about the life of an Indian Braveheart that I have seen in years.

Major disarms you with its simplicity and conviction from the get-go. We should not forget that this is a film about Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan. While the 26/11 attacks feature prominently in the film, the other aspects of Sandeep’s life are given just as much importance as they define and mold him into the hero that he eventually becomes. We are given time to understand why and how Sandeep was able to do at Taj what he ended up doing and how his entire life was building up to this very moment. We see and understand his inspiration to join the army and how it was a result of his inherent desire to be a man in uniform.

Once he joins the National Defense Academy, he is forced to ask himself who is a soldier and what is it that makes a soldier different from any other individual who is serving the nation honestly. In the answer to this question lies the true essence and spirit of this film and also the inspiration and motivation behind the actions of Major Sandeep on that fateful day. The fact that Adivi Sesh (Story and Screenplay) and Sashi Kiran Tikka (Director) were informed enough to touch upon these aspects and rendered them with such beauty and power makes this film instantaneously better and propels it to a much higher level.

Adivi Sesh and Saiee Manjrekar in a still

Having said that, the entire second half of the film is primarily about the 26/11 attacks and unlike some of the other films and series about the attack, the proceedings never get repetitive or boring. Every time Sandeep and his team walk into the danger zone, they face new challenges and threats. The terrorists are created with a lot of gusto and they prove extremely difficult to kill. This underlines the extreme challenges that the men had to face to subdue them. There are scenes where we see Sandeep and his team rescue someone and in that same moment, someone else is killed by the terrorists in a room above. This not only makes the situation frustrating for the soldiers to have not been able to save more, but it also makes their predicament that much more painful and haunting. The editing of atleast one of these sequences will make you take notice and let you feel the entire weight of the tragedy that was the 26/11 attacks. With every effort and failure, Sandeep and his team get increasingly frustrated, heartbroken, and angry and it shows in their expressions. Adivi Sesh, who is the face of the entire National Security Guard (NSG) unit, is able to convey the exact state of mind of the soldiers through his extensive range of emotions that he portrays with subtlety.

The story often takes a step back from the tragedy at hand and takes us back to certain moments in Sandeep’s life, giving the audience a breather and also a chance to understand what must be going on in the mind of a person who is faced with imminent death. This brings me back to the exceptionally warm and lovely romance that we see blossom between Adivi Sesh and Saiee Manjrekar. This is one of the sweetest love stories that I have seen envisioned in an Indian film in a while and I loved every bit of it. I just loved the “O Isha” song using which the director develops the entire romance between the two in school. Not only is the track heartwarming but the editing of it and the performances by the pair in it takes it to a whole new level. The scene where the two propose to each other was so sweet that I was nearly in tears. As their relationship develops other challenges come along and even these aspects are rendered with conviction and a lot of heart making these sequences integral to the narrative. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that some of these elements prove to be Sandeep’s inspiration for doing what he ends up doing.

I loved the background score of the film. It is not just the rousing track in the action sequences that make your heart pond but also the subtle score in the romantic and emotional moments that add so much to the inherent feeling of these sequences and work as the perfect companion pieces. While the performances are already disarming, the score just makes it a little easier and more rewarding to surrender to all that is depicted on screen.

I absolutely adored Adivi Sesh’s performance. The way he carries himself throughout the film and the way he documents the different aspects of Sandeep’s nature under different circumstances floored me. I loved his voice modulations during key dialogue moments and how they impacted his performance. I adored his camaraderie with his parents played by the phenomenal Revathi and Prakash Raj. I don’t have enough words to praise his romantic track with Saiee who is equally potent in a role that is very easy to adore. One has to give due credit to Adivi for being just as effective in scenes where he is shown to be a vulnerable individual impacted by everything that impacts a common man as he is in action scenes where he transforms into a one-man army by the end of the film. Adivi pulls off even some of the more outlandish action set pieces so well that they feel organic and real. Due credit has to be given to the director as well for envisioning and executing them with gusto.

Sobhita Dulipala in a poster of the film

Prakash Raj and Revathi are sensational as Sandeep’s parents. The scene where they come to know about their child’s martyrdom is alone the worth the price of admission. I also loved the subtle and simple scenes showing the relationships between the son and the parents and how his overwhelming desire to join the army proved to be more important than him being a son to his aging parents. The scene where Prakash Raj runs after Sandeep’s departing auto after he believes that he has left an important document at home was heart-breaking. How the parents lie to each other to keep the other at peace during the raid was equally enamoring.

Major is laced with spellbinding drama, relentless action, and heartfelt moments of love and romance. It is the kind of film that must be watched by the young generation to atleast get a feel of what it means to be selfless and how being selfless might get you killed but can ensure that you become the necessary symbol or beacon of hope that tells the others that while you are there nothing wrong can happen. Sometimes that can be all that is standing between hope and hopelessness and that is why, no matter how odd or outlandish it might sound, Sandeep’s life is a testimony and reminder to live for other if you have it in you.

When Sandeep’s mother tells him to not join the army as it is too risky, all he says in response is what if every mother said the same? His mother is silenced by this question but her sense of pride coupled with a feeling of morose that she might lose her son takes over her expressions. While these lines will be ignored as nothing but dramatic ramblings, they might be the most poignant in the entire film. I urge all my readers to watch this film and if you like it, do recommend it to your near and dear ones.   

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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