Vicky Kaushal and Shoojit Sircar are winning hearts for the latter’s extraordinary latest film, Sardar Udham. The film had gained so much reception that it was in the running to be India’s entry to the Academy Awards. Ultimately, Sircar’s Sardar Udham has lost the race to Tamil film Koozhangal. The jurors now say that the reason for the film not being selected was because it “projected hatred towards the British.”
The film is based on the life of the legendary revolutionary, Udham Singh, known for assassinating Michael O’Dwyer. O’Dwyer was the Lieutenant Governor of Punjab, when the horrific incident of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre occurred. The film mentions poignantly at the end, that the British are yet to give an official apology, 100 years on since the massacre.
The film has done a brilliant job of showing patriotism, without adding jingoism and toxic masculinity to the mix. Kaushal’s excellent performance and Sircar’s mastery behind the camera make Sardar Udham one of the best films of the year. Yet, the jury’s decision to exclude it from the race makes it bothersome to get Indian cinema the recognition it deserves.
One of the best films of 2021 deprived of international acclaim
Narratives against the British do not pose a problem to the Indian audience. Instead, they are often laced with heaps of extreme hatred to awaken the spirit of nationalism within us. But the Academy Awards are a big deal for Indian Cinema. Sardar Udham is simply a reflection on Udham Singh’s life, who made it his goal to avenge the death of the innocents who died that fateful day.
The film clearly states Singh’s views on the British, that he doesn’t hate them. He had more British friends than Indian ones, he claimed in his trial. Probably, to not invoke the wrath of British critics, the jury discarded Udham Singh as India’s bet for the Oscars. Juror Indradeep Dasgupta said it will be “unfair to hold on to hatred, at this era of globalization.” He also said, that the film “harps” on the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre. Both Dasgupta and another juror claim the film’s duration is also a factor.
After all, the massacre became the nexus of Udham Singh’s life. Sircar has purposely drawn out the Singh’s anger towards ruthless British imperialism, in an excruciatingly slow manner. The film has done justice towards the revolutionary’s life, raising his status as an ‘unsung hero’ overnight. Yet, Indian jurors are giving priority to save India’s face amongst an international audience, that promoting quality Indian on the global space.