Since the 90s, J.P. Dutta has ruined war cinema for hindi films. The overly dramatic, passionate screaming and sentimental yearning for those left behind at home just became a cliche that was hard to shake off. Farhan Akhtar's Lakshya was the sole anomaly in this genre that was relatable, relevant and exemplary in its story telling. The advent of a new age of visionary artists who were past the phase of concocting stories with heroes larger than their characters has finally led to justice.
Aditya Dhar's research on the Uri attacks must be thorough because there is no sensationalism to convince us about the events. Political agendas, media coverage and public sentiment are kept at subtle levels so as to keep the viewer engaged with the characters and their motivations. A fictional account of the operation and its preceding events it may well be but make no mistake; Uri showcases the Indian Army's tactical prowess and therefore, is a heavy action film.
Major Vihaan Shergill (Vicky Kaushal) has a proven track record of a successful surgical attack at the Myanmar border with his precise planning and execution. His ailing mother (Swaroop Sampat) keeps him posted in the Delhi headquarters, away from other action in Kashmir where his brother-in-law, Major Karan (Mohit Raina) is making the family proud.
It is easy to invest in these characters with the sincerity depicted by the actors and the viewer's acute sense of what is coming. The Mahadev actor Mohit Raina, especially creates an impact in a few scenes as he takes charge of the camp's defense against the terrorist attack. Sprinting across the screen, dodging bullets and determined to kill the attackers, we root for this army hero to save the day from devastation. The film's title makes a timely appearance at the end of this intensity only to stir you at the Army's memorial service for the fallen soldiers like no tragedy has since Rang de Basanti. The attack was especially personal for Major Vihaan who motivates his commandos with a powerful element apart from their extraordinary individual capabilities - Rage. The encounter during the surgical strike is a visceral manifestation of this anger that is accurate enough with one bullet but there is no hesitation to portray the ruthlessness with which they shoot each militant more than once. This is a different Indian army that is shaken to its core and will show no mercy.
As Paresh Rawal's Govind declares that with a surgical strike, a New India will tell the world that it is capable of not only entering enemy turf but also killing them on it, director Aditya Dhar's follow through on this bold statement is a far cry from the cliche, over-the-top dramatization of J.P. Dutta's army ventures. Precise to the point of the operation's planning, clinical in execution with exemplary cinematography, a tense and pulsating background score and the deployment of all modern arms and ammunition that support the valor of a spirited commando unit, Uri looks and feels like a Hollywood action film in its visual style and crisp editing.
It is real, visceral, slick and engaging cinema that makes you respect the technical team that enabled it all. This is a no-nonsense retelling of the events that shook the nation and how the people in power made bold decisions to restore faith and pride in the citizens.
The performances by a competent cast are well confined to the tone and emotional depth of the characters in their situations. This is a critical area where a sound technical film can fall on its knees with miscasting and cliche performances but here, even a special appearance by Rakesh Bedi in an unusual role draws chuckles and not ridicule. Such is the impact of a fine cast that includes the likes of Paresh Rawal, Rajit Kapoor, Mohit Raina , Yami Gautam and the most credible Vicky Kaushal.
Aditya Dhar deserves a lot of praise for keeping it relevant to the new gen audience that now demands realism when depicting true events. Uri invokes patriotism without the usual chants and long speeches. It trades drama and hyperbole for surgical execution of a script that stays faithful to its topic.
The victory song during the end credits is a high voltage anthem featuring Daler Mehendi of course, because who else can better vocalize passionate patriotism.
4.701 on a scale of 1-5.