It takes vision and courage to make a film about the de-escalating valour and plummeting morale of the Indian Army. Shaurya is about the army, but it isn`t a war film. The battles are all fought at the level of individual conscience. But never does it get preachy.
It`s a film about the Indian Muslim`s identity. But it steers miraculously clear of taking sides or becoming hysterically passionate on the subject. There have been significant films on the isolation of the Indian Muslim as seen through the eyes of a persecuted individual. One can immediately think of John Matthew Matthan`s Sarfarosh and Raj Kumar Santoshi`s Khakee.
In Shaurya, Deepak Dobriyal as Javed Khan, the Muslim army man accused of terrorist activities, reminds you of Atul Kulkarni in Khakee.
There`s even a predictable sequence where the mother of the accused comes visiting the lawyer`s home in the dead of the night. Seema Biswas` cameo as Javed`s mother is surprisingly lacklustre.
She demonstrates unnecessary restraint where a more dramatic pitch for the distraught mother would have carried the theme of persecution and isolation further.
Samar Khan seems exceptionally shy of emotional display. The relationships that grow within Joydeep Sarkar`s intricately plotted courtroom drama seek solace in silences rather than dramatics.
Even the relationship that grows between the hero Major Siddhanth Chowdhary (Rahul Bose) and the journalist (Minissha Lamba) resonates with restraint rather than rhetoric. Buddies Bose and Javed Jaffrey, we are told, are inseparable. But that level of camaraderie isn`t evident in the film.
The cloudbursts are saved up for the entire climactic interlude. The last 45 minutes are so stunningly honest that you wonder if the dormant spirit of the rest of the narrative was meant to mislead us.
The wake-up call - how a certain section of the government-sponsored agencies look upon the Indian Muslim - is hurled into our face with a ferocity that leaves us in state of stunned incredulity.
Credit must go to the writer, director and the dialogue writer (Aparna Malhotra) for telling it like it is about the alienation of a community.
More than Rahul Bose, who`s remarkably in-sync and uniformly vibrant in playing his character, it`s Kay Kay Menon as the biased army officer who imbues a compelling credibility to Samar Khan`s honourable and brave intentions.
It would be no exaggeration to say that Shaurya and its theme of the Indian Muslim`s self-worth would not have worked without Menon`s vital presence.
In the courtroom, when he spews venom against the community for polluting and poisoning the country, Menon sounds frighteningly Hitlerian.
Again, we must stress that the director doesn`t try to get fashionably polemical in addressing the sensitive issue of communal angst. Samar Khan mostly remains non-judgemental in his treatment of characters and their blemishes.
The trial of the silently smouldering Muslim is punctuated by bouts of humour between Bose and his screen-friend Javed Jaffry.
Shaurya reveals sparks of master storytelling and doesn`t hide away from uncomfortable truths - from its opening titles, when on a wet, windy, and slippery night out in Srinagar, Javed Khan pulls the trigger on his senior, to the stunning finale when Shah Rukh Khan`s voice recites poignant poetry defining valour and courage not as we see it but as the conscience knows it.
But the director could have easily avoided the limp pockets in the narrative, those telltale breathers when the buddies bond, lovers sing and the fringe characters try to get a face from the edges.
Forget the humbug. Just watch Shaurya for its compelling and positively gripping insight into the heart and mind of the average Indian who hides his subconscious biases in the garb of fashionable liberalism.
The film`s army backdrop is authentically captured by Carlos Catalan`s panoramic cinematography. It captures the feelings and failings of the characters as fluently as the cascading tranquillity of the Srinagar backdrop.
A story of justice, honour , faith and above all believing in yourself.
A story of finding courage within... where friendships are tested in the battle which maters the most... the battle for truth and justice...
Shaurya is the story of Javed...a man wronged by his country... by the very men who he fought with and were his friends. Its the story of Siddhant, whose only aim in life was to escape reality and wasn`t ready for what life brought him...its the story of Kavya who never understood why it was difficult to speak the truth...Its the story of Akash for whom living the rules was the only way to live life. And it`s the story of Major general Pratap a man who lived by his own rules even if they were against humanity...
Captain Javed Khan charged with mutiny, treason and killing a fellow officer...is being tried for court martial… who refuses to speak in his defense as the secret of the night he holds is too powerful for the establishment to handle
General Pratap who has lost his blue eyed boy to Javeds bullet... who wants him to hang for this ….
Kavya...an honest journalist who believes that every story has two sides to it... this time one is silent
Sid and Akash… best friends, lawyers, two very ambitious individuals… yet they both have absolutely contrasting views on life. And the way they see it.
Akash is the son of a very famous lawyer, comes from an army background and has been educated in the best of schools. For him the only profession he ever though about was the Indian army which stood for all that he stood for …but he has an ambitious streak in him...he wants to reach the top and he will play by the rules...using them to his advantage
Sid is the exact opposite. He hates being in the country. His father was in the army and lost his life on the front. Sid is in this job because of his father, who wanted to see his son in uniform, but his death has left Sid bitter about the system and he wants to get out...He wants to start a bungee jumping school in New Zealand .
But this one case will change their lives… When Akash gets the case he convinces Sid to take this case... for Akash the logic is clear...Sid can only make his victory easier …
The case takes the two of them to Srinagar… and while Akash follows the blueprint he has set out for himself and for whom winning this case matters the most … For Sid, a journey of discovery starts., Kavya, Javed and of course the man in question, Col. Pratap… all start becoming catalysts in the case that he has taken to lose, but starts becoming much more than he thinks it is.
Why is Javed silent??
What is the truth of that night??
Why is general Pratap hell bent on getting javed convicted?
Will Sid have the courage to save Javeds life and his should…
`Shaurya` is a term that encapsulates Bravery, courage and honour! Our film of the same name, examines this very virtue, held in the highest esteem by the Indian army. What is the essential meaning of courage? What is it that makes a man courageous? Is it just physical bravado… or a more innate power of the soul?