Sardar Udham review: Powerful take on a revolutionary

'Sardar Udham', starring Vicky Kaushal, is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

Sardar Udham

Hindi (Amazon Prime Video) 

Director: Shoojit Sircar 

Cast: Vicky Kaushal, Banita Sandhu, Amol Parashar 

Rating: 3/5 

The Chitaarth-directorial 'Shaheed Udham Singh' (2000) focuses more on Udham Singh’s life in India, with little details on what he did in London and Russia. Shoojit Sircar’s ' Sardar Udham' fills this gap.

The film tells the story of Ram Mohammad Singh Azad alias Sher Singh alias Udham Singh from the perspective of his revolutionist links with the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA). Udham Singh meets Irish freedom fighter Irene Rose Palmer and also takes help from IRA and Russian revolutionaries to do something bigger for India’s freedom. 

He works for the former Lieutenant Governor of the Punjab Michael O'Dwyer, who commissioned the Jallianwalla Bagh massacre. Udham later kills him, not just as the revenge for the massacre but also as a revolutionary statement and a tribute to the voiceless million Indians who suffered at the hands of the British.

The slow-paced biography offers a nuanced perspective most people choose to ignore about the freedom fight — the story of Udham Singh, one among the leftist, Marxist revolutionaries who laid down their lives for the country. The film, however, ignores the Mahatma Gandhi part of the whole equation and some of the Indian part of Udham Singh’s story.

Udham Singh, played with mastery by Vicky Kaushal, carries the burden of the river of blood that flew in Punjab in 1919. Kaushal projects the depth hidden in the commoner-looking character with elan.

Unlike Raj Babbar’s Udham Singh who was a bubbly, play-boyish, witty and talkative hero, Vicky Kaushal’s Udham Singh is quiet and buried deep in grief, never being able to forget the trauma of the Jallianwalla Bagh massacre which was a turning point in India’s history. Udham Singh’s killing O’Dwyer makes him the hero he was, and Vicky Kaushal appears real, authentic, and humane, never letting his star value interfere in the process of playing the famous figure.

The aftermath of the tragedy is visualised in vivid details, making the viewer relive all the memories buried in history, to which there hasn’t been a formal apology yet. The bloodbath, the quest for water and medicines, the misery — everything has been effectively recreated. You can actually feel the pain of everybody who died during the tragedy.

However, the slow pace of the story, meandering between various timelines, can test people's patience. Nevertheless, the top-notch production quality, the authentic storytelling and fine recreation of history will keep you hooked. The duration of two hours and 40 minutes might look daunting but the run-time feels apt if you love indulging in Udham’s character and its many layers. If you want to dive deep into the psyche of a revolutionary, to explore what makes an ordinary man an extraordinary martyr, the movie is a powerful one for you.