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KESARI is well intentioned, but formulaic and insincerely schmaltzy!

Well mounted and shot with extensive CGI, KESARI narrates a worthy chapter of bravery in Indian history. But with a sluggish screenplay, half-baked characters, mawkish melodrama and a monotonous narrative, the film is a slog for the most part. With heavy dialogue, all it does, is play it to the gallery. It’s watchable for Akshay’s earnest efforts, but not compelling enough.

Set in the 19th century, KESARI recounts the story of Havaldar Ishar Singh (Akshay Kumar) who played a key role in the 1897 Battle of Saragarhi, in which an army of 21 Sikhs fought against a legion of 10,000 Afghans, in what is considered as one of the greatest last-stands in military history.

KESARI’s historical account makes for a wonderful film premise. It has all the ingredients that make for a heroic drama on celluloid. But in the hands of writer/director Anurag Singh, it becomes a larger-than-life mythological chronicle, which is extremely caricaturist, where both good and evil are highly exaggerated. For instance, all of the British officers and Afghani Pathans are the most evil souls you’d ever find, and each of the Sikh characters on display are pious patriots.

Then there are characters which make no sense, like Ishar Singh’s wife (played by Parineeti), who appears only as an imagination, or an unknown Pathan with heavy make-up, who has no connection with anyone whatsoever, manifests every now and then with an intent to kill the Sikh soldiers. The heavy-weight dialogue is merely aimed at the masses, which is frankly, never heart-rending. Even the build-up to the main war is overlong and immensely tiring. If the emotional content was more authentic, this could’ve made for a fine piece of cinema. Alas, that isn’t the case. KESARI is bloated and how.

Of the actors, it’s an Akshay Kumar show all through. He plays his part with extreme sincerity, no matter how insincere the whole plot seems. He looks his part and makes sure he’s convincing all the time. The remaining cast hardly needs a mention. It’s a pack of hoi-polloi doing the ordinary.

To sum-up, KESARI is a typical Bollywood masala film which is high on visuals and low on content. Watchable for its intent, but not recommended for its content.

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