Sam Bahadur Movie Review : Hot Performance Served Cold

Lights, camera, and a valiant attempt to capture the life of India’s first field marshal, Sam Manekshaw! Meghna Gulzar takes the directorial reins in “Sam Bahadur,” a Vicky Kaushal starrer that unfolds like a lengthy, fragmented history class – and trust us, this lesson could use a little more spice.

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Vicky Kaushal, the man known for seamlessly morphing into characters like a cinematic chameleon, steps into the shoes of Sam Bahadur with the grace we’ve come to expect. From the tender moments in “Masaan” to the heavyweights of “Sardar Udham,” Kaushal’s range is undeniable. However, it’s the weight of his performance in Sam Bahadur that hits differently, and not necessarily in a good way. The film, while aspiring to be light-footed, seems to trip over its own seriousness.

Sam Bahadur Movie Review : Hot Performance Served Cold

Sam Bahadur Movie Review : Hot Performance Served Cold | Image Credit Wikimedia Commons

Meghna Gulzar, having previously delivered gems like “Talvar” and “Raazi,” serves up a well-researched, well-intentioned, well-shot, and well-performed film. But, the burning question remains: does ticking all the ‘well’ boxes automatically make a movie great? Sam Bahadur is like that friend who has all the right qualities on paper but lacks a certain spark in real life.

The film’s clinical, episodic, and documentary-style treatment might make you wonder if Gulzar has inadvertently fallen into a pattern. “Sam Bahadur” feels like it’s waving a flag that says, “Hey, I’m well-made and well-intentioned,” but forgets the vital element – the heart. A life well lived is portrayed, but the emotional connection is as elusive as a plot twist in a history textbook.

In the midst of four wars, charming women, and not batting an eyelid while calling the Prime Minister ‘sweetie,’ Sam Manekshaw’s life unfolds like a timeline in motion. Yet, the film struggles to anchor itself, floating through eras without a firm grip on the emotional reins. It’s not just about seeing a well-lived life; it’s about feeling the living. Unfortunately, “Sam Bahadur” seems to miss the memo.

The film, co-written by Bhavani Iyer, Shantanu Shrivastava, and Meghna herself, is akin to a long, meandering history lesson. Chapters unfold, battles are fought, but the narrative fails to grip. A crucial lesson in dealing with history in cinema: lessons belong in textbooks, but films demand engagement. “Sam Bahadur” was expected to be immersive, not another cookie-cutter military actioner like “Uri: The Surgical Strike” or a sensitive thriller like “Raazi.” Alas, it falls short of that mark.

Drawing parallels to Gulzar’s previous work, “Chhapaak,” we see a pattern emerging. Both films, while well-intentioned, operate at a strangely detached level. “Chhapaak” chronicled the life of an acid attack survivor with a documentary-like determination. “Sam Bahadur” treads a similar path, placing us in battlefields, houses, and personal moments with Sam, but the emotional connection remains distant.

As Sam Manekshaw would say, “I am… ok.” That sums up “Sam Bahadur” – not bad, not good, just okay. It’s missing the emotional punch needed to elevate it from a well-crafted history lesson to a truly captivating cinematic experience. So, grab your popcorn, settle into your seat, and brace yourself for a film that leaves you saying, ” OKAY.”

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