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Shaurya – Movie Review

April 11, 2008

I went to see Shaurya despite its not so good reviews as it was about an army court-martial. I am sucker for army movies. And I had read some good things about the movie – excellent performances by Rahul Bose (plays army lawyer Siddhant) Kay Kay Menon (plays Brig. Pratap) and Deepak Dobriyal (plays Captain Javed Khan).

Well, I liked the movie and didn’t like it. What I liked was the treatment. It was simple and clean, with no frills and no fuss. The scenes were natural and realistic, and so was the acting. The movie was set in the countryside, a nice change from the city-centred movies that we usually see. No glamour, no disco lights and no cabarets.

The editing, though not always tight, was very clever…at times the very length of the scene made an impact. Very well done I thought, the overall treatment by director Samar Khan. As I have not seen A Few Good Men, from which this movie has been lifted, it is difficult to say how much of the treatment and how many of the scenes were copied.

Rahul Bose

Rahul Bose as Siddhant was superb though.

The story has been given an Indian twist. It’s been turned into a Hindu Muslim issue. Well, if it was credible it would have been a different matter. But it isn’t.

The movie opens with Captain Javed Khan (Deepak Dobriyal) shooting a senior officer at point blank range and his subsequent incineration. In the scenes that follow we are given to understand that Javed shoots Major Rathod during a search operation in a Kashmir village because of his (Javed’s) ‘sympathy’ for the villagers due to them being of the same religion as him. Thus Javed Khan is suspected of being a traitor and shielding terrorists. As Javed refuses to speak in his own defence it adds to the suspense. We wonder: what really happened? Deepak Dobriyal as Javed Khan does an excellent job. His stony expression and expressive eyes say it all.

Two best friends (both Majors) are on his case. One is Siddhant (Sid), the defense lawyer, and his best friend Akash (played by Javed Jaffery) is the prosecution. Siddhant is told that it is an open and shut case. This in addition to the fact that Siddhant is fun-loving and has a casual attitude towards the case makes us feel that Capt Javed Khan is indeed doomed. Until journalist Kaavya (played by Minissha Lamba) appears on the scene, taunting Siddhant for his incompetence. This does seem to wake him up. That he’s taken a shine to her helps.

Well, I won’t tell you the rest of the story, but if you have seen A Few Good Men you can guess the general direction in which it goes. Shaurya’s story though basically revolves around the Hindu Muslim issue.

I felt that the basic tenet of the movie is weak. Capt. Javed Khan being a Muslim feels a strong sympathy for the villagers who are also Muslims. What is the director trying to say? That only Muslims feel sympathy for Muslims?? It does seem like that because the other (Hindu) officers who are around do not feel strong enough sympathy for the villagers who are being treated roughly. Only Javed does. Well, at least if the director had admitted that this is what the message of the movie is (feeling sympathy for those like oneself or of the same religion), it would have been fine. Every director/storyteller has his own vision and he tries to tell it through the story/movie. But at the end of this movie, we are told that Captain Javed Khan does not feel sympathy for the villagers because they share the same religion as him…that he feels sympathy only because they are fellow human beings and that is why the label Shaurya (Bravery) fits him. But nothing in the movie proves this. In fact everything in the movie proves the opposite.

Kay Kay Menon is the villain of the piece. It is a treat to watch him act. Perfect as an autocratic but mentally unbalanced Brigadier!

What is ridiculous is that the journalist Kaavya has free run of an army base in a high security zone, free access to the defence lawyer in the case and free access to files and is even present in the courtroom where the trial is taking place! Incredible.

Well, is Shaurya worth a watch? If you can stomach the fact that the movie is a copy of A Few Good Men and that many of the dialogues are “verbatim translations,” then go see it. It’s a bit slow and a rather long, but it is a very unusual Hindi film. It is unusual because of the backdrop and the subdued and realistic treatment. If one can just forget that it’s copied, one can enjoy the film.

It’s a pity that Bollywood continue to steal stories from Hollywood. They do it shamelessly because nothing happens to them. They change the story just enough so that it is difficult to prove plagiarism. And talented actors have no qualms in working in such films! It is only when the true artists of the Indian film industry boycott the directors, producers and music directors who plagiarize that the cheating will stop. Artistes should realize that a bit of the mud sticks to them too.

The music in this film is original. You can read the music review here.

Related Reading: U Me Aur Hum Movie Review
Khuda Ke Liye Movie Review
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13 Comments leave one →
  1. April 11, 2008 11:09 pm

    I haven’t seen this one yet and I don’t think I will really. But “A Few Good Men” was a pretty good movie although nowadays it’s taboo to really like anything with Tom Cruise’s name associated with it 😀
    as for originality, I think it would be next to the word Bollywood….
    in a book of antonyms.

  2. April 12, 2008 3:26 am

    I dug this up after reading your review. To rephrase Kevin Pollack; ” I could watch the movie any day of the week and twice on a sunday”. Jack Nicholson got nominated for an Oscar for the bare 15 minutes he was on screen. On the Indian version no problem if they gave due credit and purchased the rights, which the don’t. Here are some of the quotes from the original.

    Kevin Pollak (Lt. Weinberg): Cmdr. Galloway, Lt. Kaffee is considered to be the best litigator in our office. He successfully plea bargained 44 cases in 9 months.
    Tom Cruise (Kaffee): One more and I get a set of steak knives.

    Jack Nicholson (Col. Jessup): You see Danny, I can deal with the bullets, and the bombs, and the blood. I don’t want money, and I don’t want medals. What I do want is for you to stand there in that faggoty white uniform and with your Harvard mouth extend me some f—— courtesy. You gotta ask me nicely.

    Jack Nicholson (Col. Jessup): Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Whose gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinburg? I have more responsibility here than you could possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago, and you curse the marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That Santiago’s death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And that my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. I know deep down in places you dont talk about at parties, you don’t want me on that wall, you NEED me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide, then question the manner in which I provide it. I prefer you said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand to post. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to!

    Jack Nicholson (Col. Jessup): You want answers?
    Tom Cruise (Kaffee): I think I’m entitled.
    Jack Nicholson (Col. Jessup): You want answers?
    Tom Cruise (Kaffee): I WANT THE TRUTH ! (followed by the now famous)
    Jack Nicholson (Col. Jessup): YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!

    Jack Nicholson (Col. Jessup): You f—–‘ people. You have no idea how to defend a nation. All you did was weaken a country today, Kaffee. That’s all you did. You put people’s lives in danger. Sweet dreams, son.
    Tom Cruise (Kaffee): Don’t call me son. I’m a lawyer and an officer in the United States Navy. And you’re under arrest, you son of a bitch.

  3. April 12, 2008 3:35 am

    correction: I think this part should read as follows:

    I know deep down in places you dont talk about at parties, you WANT me on that wall, you NEED me on that wall.

  4. April 12, 2008 8:47 am

    A few good men was brilliant dialogue was powerful , jack Nicholson was brilliant, and one thing is for sure this was tom cruises best movies as he didn’t overact that much 🙂

    i think i will give this movie a pass though kk is brilliant
    i cant tolerate rahul bose , after seeing chameli somehow i doubt his acting skills and bad hindi.

    Sympathy , for humanity, so much so – that a u shoot a person point blank doesn’t cut ice with me

    ps i have linked to some of ur older education posts

  5. April 12, 2008 8:47 am

    * this was one of tom cruises best movies

  6. April 12, 2008 9:32 am

    The story, actually has been lfted from a hindi novel called Court Martial written by Shri. Swadesh Deepak. The novel, incidentally had caste overtones that seem to have been corrected to religion in the movie to play to the gallery. You can read about Shri. Deepak here:

  7. April 12, 2008 12:07 pm

    Aniche: 🙂

    Nehru Mantri, thanks for those excerpts. Now seeing A Few Good Men is very much on my agenda. I have heard so much about the movie now!

    Prax, you know I never could stand Rahul Bose myself! In fact I went for this movie inspite of him. Thankfully I found his acting good. Otherwise I have seen him in just one movie in which he had the same moronic expression on his face throughout! I have now changed by mind about Rahul Bose now. But still, I think I should avoid a movie with him for a while incase I start detesting him again! 🙂 I only saw this movie because it was about a court martial. Anyway, I am glad I saw it. I overall liked it.
    However about shooting someone being heroic or not depends on the motive. I didn’t mention it in the review as it would have given away the story.

    Raman, I tried to look for some reference on the internet about this but could not find anything. However I find a lot of references mention that this is a copy of A Few Good Men. I think what matters a lot is the execution, scenes and dialogues which are lifted. Just the idea is not enough to make it a copy. Anyway, if you have an authentic reference to support your claim you are welcome to give it. I won’t be surprised if Samar Khan has taken a few things from the Hindi novel as well. The best plagiarist always takes from 2-3 sources.

  8. April 12, 2008 7:01 pm

    I’ve heard a lot about this movie and about Rahul Bose’s acting too… I haven’t seen any of his movies, but isn’t he known to play all these quirky, unusual roles? I’m gonna watch this movie definitely! Thanks, Nita… 🙂

    You are welcome Yaake. – Nita.

  9. April 12, 2008 11:12 pm

    Also, Court Martial was a play and has been screened in over 100 Indian Cities. I read somewhere that it has been screened more than 4000 times until now. Therefore lifting from this source would have been most easy because the multiplex audience may know less about Swadesh Deepak than Jack Nicholson/Tom Cruise and Court Martial was more Indianised.

  10. April 15, 2008 1:29 pm

    A few good men was a gem of a movie. Great script and dialogues. But I didn’t know that Shaurya was a copy of that. *Surprised*
    And how the hell do you get the time to watch so many movies?? 🙂

  11. April 15, 2008 2:03 pm

    Amit, that’s not fair!! You saw Race before me! 🙂

  12. May 17, 2008 7:03 pm

    I think if you go with a “it’s a copy” frame of mind, there is no way you can be fair to the movie. To me, I haven’t seen a movie as strong as this one in a while. Last one was Taare Zamee Par and may be Maine Gandhi ko Nahi Maara.

    The coldness on KK (Brigadier’s) face was outstanding. His dialog about “how a cup of coffee is made” and “pigs sweat men perspire” showed how great of an actor he is and how underestimated. I liked Minissha for whatever role she was given. I have been gaga over her since “Yahaan”, which was another great movie.

    It is always a treat to watch such movies out of all the junk that bollywood throws out. I agree that the starting of the movie could have done without the Bar song, but by the time the movie ends, you’re left wondering. For me, Kay Kay stole the show, where as Rahul Bose again proves his caliber that he showed in “Mr and Mrs Iyer”.
    Go watch this!

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