Real Indian Hero: Vicky Kaushal is Sam Manekshaw in Meghna Gulzar's new movie. But Vicky faces a much tougher battle here
From playing a Pakistani officer to one of India's greatest real-life war heroes, Vicky Kaushal's come a long way. Does he have the acting chops to portray the much-loved Manekshaw?
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A little over a year ago, in May 2018, Meghna Gulzar gave us Vicky Kaushal as Iqbal Syed — a dashing, yet demure young Pakistani soldier, torn between his love for his country and his love for his Indian wife, Sehmat. In the critically acclaimed and commercially successful Raazi, Vicky Kaushal portrayed the emotional nuances of Iqbal to the tee and made us fall in love with the enemy, so to speak.
A year later, Meghna is giving us a film based on the life of Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, the 1971 India-Pakistan War veteran.
And this time again, it’s Vicky Kaushal stepping into his shoes — and his uniform.
A Soldier’s Soldier. A Gentleman’s Gentleman. In remembrance, on the death anniversary of Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw. It is my honour to tell the story of one of India's greatest war heroes, with @vickykaushal09 essaying the historic man!@RonnieScrewvala @RSVPMovies pic.twitter.com/Ry4J7EIFjN— Meghna Gulzar (@meghnagulzar) June 27, 2019
On the occasion of Sam Manekshaw’s death anniversary, Meghna shared the first look of the film — this shows a uniformed Vicky sitting at his desk, looking every bit the part. He’s not the young, dashing Iqbal or Major Vihaan Singh Shergill from Uri: The Surgical Strike here. He’s a middle-aged Sam Manekshaw — his forehead lined, his eyes wrinkled, his cheeks freckled.
It is needless to say Meghna’s attention to detail is impeccable, and we’ve caught a glimpse of that several time in her previous ventures. Here too, the fact that special care has been taken to make sure Vicky looks exactly like Sam Manekshaw — right from his signature bushy moustache to his light eyes — doesn’t escape you. And it raises hope — that the scripting and the final film will be just as good.
The photo that inspired the first look. (Photo: Twitter)
Meghna, however, isn’t making a biopic, as she revealed at an event in Mumbai recently. So it wouldn’t be wrong to expect to see some creative liberty here for the director.
But as far as Vicky Kaushal is concerned, he has his work cut out for him.
Even though this may not be a biopic technically, Sam Manekshaw’s character, his personality and his demeanour are so distinctly embedded in Indian minds that even a bit of deviation would stick out like an eyesore. Which is why this role will be especially difficult for Vicky Kaushal — he has to strip himself of his Bollywoodised macho appeal, his filmi hero persona and his star-swag.
He cannot simply rely on his immense fan following that seems to skip a beat every time he takes to the screen in a uniform! This time, it will be about what he does in that uniform rather than how he looks in it. This time, we’re going to want to see the actor Vicky Kaushal wring out his best and not get caught in Bollywood’s usual jingoistic trappings.
Of course, if there’s anyone who can do it, it is him.
And, therefore, in him we trust.