Vedant Bansal’s review published on Letterboxd:
War is most inhumane! Nobody wins! Only hatred wins!
Shoojit Sircar's first ever biopic Sardar Udham could have been a typical Bollywood biopic like other recent years biopics from Bollywood, but Shoojit Sircar, the man behind the movies like October, Piku, and Vicky Donor, had some other thoughts about making a biopic on Udham Singh's life.
To make a good biopic one needs to capture the essence of that time period & location where the biopic is set. Cinematographer Avik Mukhopadhyay did exactly that with the help of production designer Mansi Mehta & costume designer Veera Kapur. The 1930 - 1940 era was captured and adapted on the screen splendidly. Sircar's team even paid attention to the changing social and political reforms from the late 1930s Greater Britain through news clips on tv or the radio. Despite being a biopic on Udham Singh, Sircar also focused on the changing world's powers, namely Hitler's Germany and Mussolini's Italy during the period of WWII, happening parallelly with Udham Singh's events. Adding these details with great cinematography, era-corrected costume design, top-notch production design, and Sircar's vision made the experience of watching this film immersive. These small details make a huge difference in deciding whether the film would be an average biopic or a good biopic.
Sircar's other decisive choice for his first biopic was a non-linear narrative. At first, this might feel cliché because many biopics use non-linear narrative to tell the story and make audiences emotionally connect with the protagonist from the start but Sircar didn't go that route instead he used a non-linear narrative to tell a journey of a man whose goals and motives were clear from the start but the question was WHY? and Sircar didn't answer about WHY? until the last act. For the first two acts, we got a glimpse of Udham's past life, mostly from his days working for HSRA with Bhagat Singh and others.
The last act, where Sircar answered WHY? and used the non-linear narrative to emotionally connect the audience is horrifying to watch. The Jallianwala Bagh massacre re-enactment was HARD to watch. Sircar went all out in this act, and the whole sequence was raw, powerful, and sad. Wish it wouldn't have happened in real.
Sardar Udham is a biopic that everyone should watch and give it time because the duration is 163 mins but it pays off by the end. I am not sure how if fairs from the British POV but still, the Jallianwala Bagh massacre happened and they can't deny that.
P.S. Vicky Kaushal was fabulous.