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“Kesri” – movie vs reality

The “Akshay Kumar” starrer “Kesri”, which reached the cinema theatres in the mid of march 2019, was more or less a hit especially when we look at the IMDB ratings and critics review. The well-written movie emerges as one of the most impressive ones in recent times when its mellifluous music is taken into consideration. Its story is based upon the battle of Saragrahi which is considered to be one of the best last stands that mankind has ever witnessed. The story mostly revolves around Akshay Kumar who plays the role of “Havildar Ishar Singh”. Ishar Singh is a soldier in the 36th Sikh Regiment of the “British Indian Army” who is posted along with 20 other Sikh soldiers, at a fort in a tiny, nondescript village named Saragrahi.

The battle is fought between the Sikh soldiers (under the British flag) and the Afghan tribesmen. Long story short, the battle starts when ten thousands of tribal Afghanmen surround the fort, the Sikhs retaliate valiantly, forcing the Afghans to recoil and pacify the situation by offering the Khalsa warriors safe passage to their homeland along with some wealth. The Sikhs refused and fought the afghans till death.

This story of the Sikhs is full of bravery, courage, extraordinary valor but not patriotism or anything even close to that, for sure. On one hand, the real Indian patriots were fighting against the British to free India from their control, but on the other hand these Sikh soldiers were fighting for the British cause of capturing another area for them and hence making them stronger.

Just 40 years after we fought our first war of independence, instead of fighting alongside their countrymen, against the British rule, these valiant soldiers joined the British Indian Army and fought against the Afghans who were just trying to free their motherland in a similar way as we Indians were doing back here. Suppose these soldiers were posted in India instead of Saragrahi and they retaliated the Indian freedom fighters in the same valiant and brave way and got martyred in the act?

The question is whether or not then this act be considered patriotic? whether then this movie would have been celebrated so much as it is now? Whether then we would have considered it heroic and valorous too as we do now? The movie portrays a false narrative of fake patriotism and “God knows how” love for motherland, when it is clear that they were indirectly fighting against their own motherland (by serving the British).

The most popular song of the movie “Teri mitti” is definitely a treat to the ears but its lines: “ऐ मेरी ज़मीं, अफ़सोस नही जो तेरे लिये १०० दर्द सहे” which loosely translated into “Hey my motherland, I don’t regret the immense pain that I have to go through for you”, is completely irrelevant and contrasting to the story as the Sikh soldiers were fighting this battle for the British raj(in return of a handsome salary) and not at all for their motherland.

With all due respect to the 21 brave Sikh soldiers, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that they fought and died for their own ego and self-respect, which is totally fine as long as it is not wrongly interpreted as patriotism and nationalism. The ones to be blamed are the filmmakers whose rapacity made them put across the wrong idea of the story just to attract viewers in the name of “Akshay Kumar + Patriotic script” which never fails to deliver even when it cunningly cheats us, like this one.

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