At a time when Bollywood, like the majority of the country’s population, equates jingoism to patriotism, `Shershaah` comes as a refreshing change of pace. The credit goes to director Vishnu Varadhan who shunned chest-thumping nationalism, instead humanely telling the story of Kargil War hero Captain Vikram Batra. “It was a conscious effort [to avoid jingoism]. Patriotism reflects in your actions, not in your words. When you see the film, it should evoke a sense of patriotism,” says the Tamil film director, who forayed into Hindi cinema with the biopic.
If the filmmaker offered a worthy tribute to the national hero who was martyred at 24, Sidharth Malhotra matched him skill for skill, delivering his finest performance so far. “When you get your casting right, 50 per cent of the battle is won. I understand people [want to cast] stars, but Sid is an actor first. [As a person], he is close to how Vikram was. I couldn’t think of anybody other than him. After watching the film, people are saying he is irreplaceable. The truth is that Sid was approached first, and he has done complete justice to the role.”
Karan Johar and Vishnu Varadhan
The director is humbled by the praise pouring in for the Amazon Prime Video offering. However, the perfectionist in him admits that whenever he watches the film, he wishes he had done a few things differently. “I would like to reshoot the whole film,” he jokes, before adding, “Creativity is never-ending. Often, after I finish my day’s shoot, I feel like doing it all over again. There is nothing wrong [with the scenes shot], but I keep wanting to make it perfect.”
Of all the appreciation coming his way, the filmmaker holds producer Karan Johar’s praise closest to his heart. “Karan said, ‘I am so proud of this film. You have gone [above and] beyond with this movie.’ I am touched by people’s love, but the most important thing is when your producer says that he is proud of [the endeavour].” The war drama has led to a deep friendship between the two. “I will definitely do another film with Karan,” he promises.