Based on a real-life event from just two years ago and one that we are all aware of, URI: The Surgical Strike is the cinematic replication of the 2016 surgical strike that Indian army conducted against suspected militants in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK). Starring Vicky Kaushal and Yami Gautam in the lead roles, the movie also has Paresh Rawal, Kirti Kulhari and debutant Mohit Raina in pivotal parts. The film starts with the Indo-Myanmar border surgical strike of 2015 and Vihaan Singh Shergill (Vicky Kaushal) who leads the strike comes out victorious. What happens in the year after, the URI attack, then followed by the surgical strike is the story of the film.
Commenting on the story makes no sense as it is a significant historic event. What we can talk about is the story-telling. Debutant writer-director Aditya Dhar creates the world of army men effectively, the starting scenes of the surgical strike, the army men returning home and so on. There are nicely written and executed scenes like the scene of the military funeral of Vihaan’s brother. It is moving when Vihaan can’t express his emotions at his brother’s funeral and holds back his tears because duty comes first. That touches you. The last time a similar scene made us cry was in Rang De Basanti. The main surgical strike sequence is well shot, the camera effect gives you the feeling that you are in there running with them. Army men are not only shown on the border but also having heartfelt conversations – that was pretty good too.
But the glue or the soul that was needed to bind all these aspects together was missing. Entering the second half, the story-telling gets a bit unrealistic with the investigation process. What feels not so real is the sequence around a spy camera that is made to look like an eagle, entering the story (it might be true, but doesn’t look credible here). All in all, I felt proud about the story, but wasn’t attached to it, like you feel with patriotic stories. Vicky Kaushal has moulded himself as an army officer in a very impressive way. His body control, the way he speaks, and the army sign language – everything is believable. His character is the only one that gets a storyline other than the strike, and I want to know if that is true.
Since the story is based on a real event, there have to be other characters that we know about. There is a lookalike of our PM Narendra Modi, and his cabinet of ministers. But for some reason, taking their names was avoided. Why? (this question doesn’t imply to the army officers as their identities are supposed to be kept confidential). I am happy to see Yami Gautam as an Intelligence officer and Kirti Kulhari as an Airforce pilot, both playing strong parts. This is real women empowerment in cinema. To sum up everything, URI: The Surgical Strike is a story we all need to know, and there will be biases about it as always. But the film comes from a real place of dedication to that event and despite some flaws, deserves a watch!