1962 The War In The Hills
Director: Mahesh Manjrekar
Cast: Abhay Deol, Sumeet Vyas, Mahie Gill, Akash Thosar
Streaming on: Disney + Hotstar VIP and Premium
In the early few minutes of the first episode of 1962 The War In The Hills, Shagun (Mahie Gill) asks her husband Major Suraj Singh (Abhay Deol) “Hindi Cheeni Bhai Bhai hain na?” to which he replies, “Bhai Bhai thhe, ab bye bye honewale hain”. It’s a kickass line. But nothing that follows is as impressive as that line. Charudatta Acharya’s screenplay and dialogue make this period war drama a mediocre TV quality show. Equal damage is done by Mahesh Manjrekar who doesn’t bring out striking performances even from reliable actors like Sumeet Vyas, Anup Soni and Abhay Deol who spearheads the battle and the series.
What could have made Deol say yes to this show? The premise is definitely inspiring – 125 members of a fictional battalion ‘C Company’ fought 3000 Chinese to the last man and last bullet during the Sino-Indian war in 1962. Most of these battalion members hail from Rewari village. The series also shows the soldiers’ inner conflicts, love, and personal lives. J.P. Dutta’s Border (1997) had perfected the art of massy dramatization that a Bollywood film can do in a war film. Any film or series trying to achieve that feat again seems a futile attempt.
The treatment of 1962 is a cringe fest. The craft of ‘show, don’t tell’ has been put to rest. Everything is blurted out by the characters as we see it happening. There’s a disclaimer that reads “All Chinese people in the series will be speaking in Indian languages for ease of understanding. We’re in the OTT age, Indians are binge-watching shows like Narcos, Money Heist (Spanish), Fauda (Hebrew, Arabic) and many English language shows such as The Crown. Surely, we can read some subtitles when Chinese soldiers are speaking in their native language i.e. Mandarin or Cantonese.
Well, that’s a choice the makers have made. But it makes the show which is ‘inspired by true events’ less and less authentic. The production design is ‘chakachak’ – something that doesn’t quite go well with a war film where everything gets torn apart (for example Kabir Khan’s Tubelight). Everything in the series looks staged. The performances don’t look natural. When actors like Sumeet Vyas, Abhay Deol are struggling, there is not much hope for anyone else either. Akash Thosar of Sairat fame speaks in a Marathi accent for a character that hails from North India. Mahie Gill also serves as the narrator of the series. The voice over spoken with clenched teeth adds to the list of blunders.
Watch the trailer of 1962 The War In The Hills:
The series could have been more relevant than ever considering the tension over the Indo-China border for almost a year now. But it tests your patience in its 10-episode long duration. There are some moments where you feel like the series will rise above its mediocrity but it never does.