It’s fascinating how the use of the phrase Siachen mein humaare jawaan lad rahe hai has evolved in the past four years. Spoken of with pride and reverence at one point, it has now become a punchline for nationalist politicians or self-proclaimed ‘patriots’. Aditya Dhar’s Uri is modelled on the real-life incident of September 18, 2016, where four heavily-armed militants attacked the town of Uri (in Kashmir). Termed the ‘deadliest attack on the armed forces in the past two decades’, it resulted in the death of 19 members of the Indian armed forces.
Dhar’s film is based on the immediate aftermath of the Uri Attacks, where a few chosen members of the armed forces carry out, which later became publicised as, ‘surgical strikes’. Starring one of Bollywood’s current blue-eyed boys, Vicky Kaushal, the trailer of Uri reveals some of Bollywood’s most compelling action set-pieces. It also mirrors the country’s popular anti-Pakistan sentiments, through a series of dialogues like: “Pakistan jo bhaasha samajh aata hai, usi bhaasha mein jawaab dene ka waqt aa gaya hai” or even “Unhein Kashmir chaahiye, aur humein unka sar.”
Seeing the sleek action accompanied with such servile dialogues, one can’t help but wonder if this film qualifies as ‘propaganda’. A Bollywood genre that has been spearheaded by Akshay Kumar and John Abraham till now, is seeing Kaushal enter the arena as a buff army-man. The shoot for the film reportedly took place in Serbia, capturing Kashmir’s harsh weather and unforgiving terrain. The film looks to be aiming to become a high-octane action/thriller, but does it not have any responsibility with respect to the politics it chooses to depict? Pakistan was surely the dushman in the immediate aftermath, but don’t the makers have the perspective after that, to dig deeper than a revenge drama?
If the only job the film takes upon itself is to fan the flames of a terrible tragedy and reverberate the hate for a nation – then is it even a responsible film? Also, is there enough accountability in Hindi films to tackle delicate subjects like a state-funded terror attack? Is there a contrarian point of view? From the looks of Aditya Dhar’s Uri, Pakistan looks like the equivalent of a cardboard target. It exists purely for purpose of vengeance and the soldiers exist purely as a punchline in the hands of politicians. Uri looks like the living, breathing manifestation of – “Siachen mein humaare jawaan lad rahe hai“, and not many of us are feeling the ‘pride’.
Here’s the trailer for Vicky Kaushal & Yami Gautam’s Uri:
Uri stars Vicky Kaushal, Yami Gautam, Kriti Kulhari and Paresh Rawal. It releases on January 11, 2019.