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Kesari Review

Drama, Historical, Periodical Mar 21, 2019





Kesari Review & Rating


Kesari Review: A Great Tribute To The Valor of the Sikh Soldiers

The premise

The best thing about Kesari is it’s a war drama rather than a war film. The Akshay Kumar starter tells the tale of 21-strong Sikh soldiers who fought and stalled the attacking Afghans in the battle of Saragarhi is one of the greatest stories of human perseverance and valor in the accepted recorded history. Anurag Singh brought to life the little known but inspiring aspect in Sikh history in the form of Kesari. 

The Battle of Saragarhi

First a bit of briefing about the Battle of Saragarhi to give you the gravity of the situation at that time. The frontier between colonial India and Afghanistan in the 19th century was a place of danger and unrest. On one side the Russians want to control the region and on the other, the British tried to stake their claim. It is in the vicinity of Khyber pass after all. 

This obviously led to tensions with the locals. The British have apparently made a truce with the Afridi tribe offering them to be part of the soldiers to protect and to stabilise the North West Frontier. But by 1897, things went out of control and Pashtuns and Afridis started an onslaught in the frontier. 

Saragarhi lies in a strategically very important position between the two forts, that of Gulistan and Fort Lockhart. It was built as a communication link between the two forts. It is about 40 miles away from the British garrison town of Kohat (in the present day Pakistan). 21 Sikh soldiers, who are mostly non-commissioned, stood their ground against an onslaught of 10,000 enemy tribesmen. 

Their gallantry in fighting to the bitter end cemented their reputation as brave and devoted to their duty, and the soldiers were recognised by the British with memorials, a battle honour and a regimental holiday. Saragarhi Day is observed not just in India, but also in the UK. The Battle of Saragarhi is one of the greatest examples of the last man standing. We have heard stories about this phrase in fiction. But the Battle of Saragarhi is a real-life example of how a handful of brave men can fight till their last breath to protect theirs from the enemy. 

The film

Now, coming to the film, Anurag Singh came up with a gritty narration of the events leading up to the battle, the men who fought in it, and how it all ended. These 21 Sikh soldiers stalled the onslaught long enough to help the British wrest control again within a couple of days. Means: the victory for the Afghans on that one fateful day has no meaning. The bravery of the 36 refinement soldiers didn’t end in futility. 

Akshay Kumar as Ishar Singh

Akshay Kumar is phenomenal in Kesari as Hawaldar Ishar Singh who covered up for the other soldiers who had to fight inside the fort. He was like a human shield between the enemy lines and the retreating Sikh soldiers and took down several enemy soldiers. He is fierce in the battle scenes and compassion personified otherwise. The fire in his eyes and the electricity in his personality are haunting. It’d be chinches to say this is his best performance, which certainly was not, but he channelled the inner soldier from inside while portraying the role. 

He is certainly blessed to play the role. But it was he who kept the film intact. It was around his person and personality that the narration is woven. All the moments that are sure to give goosebumps are curled by the towering presence of Akshay. No. I’m not saying it loud, a national award is in the way for him. The movie is a fitting tribute to the gallantry of the Sikh soldiers and he made sure it was done in the best possible way. 

Other actors

Next, we have to talk about Rakesh Chaturvedi Om as the Afghan leader who is like the other side of the coin to Akshay’s. He believed in the cause of the fight as much as his opposite number believed in defending his country. Chaturvedi matched Akshay Kumar from head to toe in his performance and proved the point that all great protagonists are elevated by the presence of the antagonists all the more powerful. Well done lad! 

Parineeti Chopra as Jeevani Kaur, the better half of Ishar Singh is impactful in her presentation of her role. She is the life energy of Ishar Singh. Despite not having much of screen time, it is tough to forget the earthy smile of her and it is tough to watch tears in her eyes. The other actors are used cleverly to create a high impact on the narration. 

Writing and direction

Coming to the narration, Anurag Singh’s presentation of the material is exemplary. He roamed through the best of Sikh and Islam cultures to bring authenticity to the proceedings. The first half sets the tone for what is to come. And he even sprinkled enough humour and other lighter emotions. The battle scenes are conjured up with a visceral force. The war cries are goosebump-inducing. We understand the futility of war and the compulsion in participating in the battles to defend what is our own.

The writing by the duo of Girish Kohli and Anurag Kohli is peppered with wit, wisdom and sarcasm. The duality of our feelings about the necessary evil of war and violence is presented in the full glory. The mutilated bodies of men on the field make us reel with terror and the bravery of the soldiers inspires all the same. The dialogues are written well. The way Punjabi is infused into the first half is good but tough for those who are not versed in the language. To list the stand out dialogues will make this review double in its permissible length. 

The crew

The music by Chirantan Bhatt and his team is stunning. The effect of both war and peace are maximised by the sound design. The cinematography is top notch. The rugged terrains of the Afghan border and the North West region are recreated quite well by the production team. The visual effects used to depict the weather elements are done well. The landscapes are captured with gusto by the photography team. The production values are of the highest class. 


To summarise Kesari in a small canvas of a film review is a tough job. But to state the obvious, it is as much a tribute to the gallantry of the 21 Sikh soldiers who fought the Pashtuns and Afridis to the human spirit which proves time and again that nothing is impossible to those who are determined to stand for the truth of their cause. Watch the film. As simple as that.


  • Akshay Kumar's fiery performance
  • Several goosebump-inducing moments
  • You'll know the greatest last-man-standing event in history
  • Strong writing and direction
  • A realistic take on the wars and violence
  • The climax


  • Narration is on the slow side in the first half

Pycker Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Kesari Critic Reviews

Kesari User Reviews

  • G

    21 Mar 19 @ 9:48 AM

    A great film about the 36th regiment Sikh soldiers and the bravery of the 21 men who fought valiantly with the Afghan attackers. Don't miss. 

  • sagar Uddin

    30 Mar 19 @ 8:37 AM

    He just make movie for money
  • Yash

    22 Mar 19 @ 7:29 AM

    Master piece movue....

Kesari Live Updates & Public Talk

The anticipation for Akshay Kumar's Kesari has been very high even for a hero of such lofty standards. The film which was advertised as the tale of the Battle of Saragarhi, one of the greatest examples of the battle against odds. Karan Johar joined hands with Zee Studios who already gave us another action war film in the form of Manikarnika this year to bankroll this patriotic film. Directed by Anurag Singh, the movie is preceded by an unlimited positive buzz what with the success record of Akshay Kumar in recent times and the interest about such subjects as this.

Kesari is a great tribute to the martyrs who were lost in history says one of the early watchers of the movie. Akshay Kumar's top-notch performance, stellar supporting cast, tight screenplay, and hard-hitting dialogues. A masterpiece delivered by Anurag Singh and Karan Johar. The dialogues and the battle sequences in the movie receive special praise. Parineeti Chopra's smaller role as Jeevani Kaur is said to be very good. 

Kesari is a rip roaring yarn. An ideal big screen actioner. Based on the true story of 21 soldiers of Sikh battalion holding the fort of Saragarhi against an army of 10000 Afghan tribesmen. Akshay Kumar is awesome. The entire cast did a stunning job. The movie is going to be a true blockbuster. 

Keep watching for more Kesari public talk, and live updates.

Kesari Preview

What is Kesari About?

Kesari tells the story of the Battle of Saragarhi, fierce military combat between 21 soldiers of the Sikh Regiment of the British Army and nearly 10,000 Afridi tribals and Orakzai mountain tribesmen from Afghanistan in 1897. With such an epic story at its core, Kesari appeals to the nationalistic feeling of the Indians in a time of shadow war and fight against border terrorism. Karan Johar joined hands with Zee Studios to present this film. 

Akshay Kumar who is at the forefront of the films with a patriotic flavor and social cause plays the role of Havildar Ishar Singh who fought bravely to down tens of Afghan attackers and giving the others time to recover ground. It also helped to buy time for the rescue team's arrival. But at a time when national pride is running high, is it advisable for a film to tell the story of the soldiers who though fought for the country but served the British as their masters? 

Kesari Promises

An intriguing tale of heroism and sacrifice

Those who fought in the Battle of Saragarhi are immortalized both by the British, later Indian Government is commemorated by Sikh military men by observing 12 September every year as Saragarhi Day. The movie depicts the epic historic battle in which a small group of Indian soldiers helped fend off the invading Afghans.

With high production values and a star cast led by Akshay Kumar who is in great form with back to back hits in the last couple of years, Kesari has enough weight of star attraction to pull the audience to the theatres. 

Akshay Kumar as Havildar Ishar Singh

Akshay Kumar who in recent times proved himself to be a versatile actor comes up with the depiction of a brave soldier. He plays the role of one of the 21 Sikh soldiers who put themselves as the shield between the perpetrators and the army post. It was a battle which is considered one of the greatest incidents of last men standing. 

The bravery of the soldiers including Singh helped the Britishers regain the forts within a couple of days. Hundreds of Afghans were killed in the battle. Ishar Singh is going to be another feather in the cap for Akshay Kumar in his career. If the movie is any good, it will pay a great tribute to the brave souls and no one is better than Akshay in making such films tick. 

Anurag Singh and his team

Anurag Singh who is known for films like Jat and Juliet series starring Diljir Dosanjh and Punjab 1984 is directing the historical event which is of foremost importance to the Sikh soldiers. The movie is produced by some of the top names in Hindi Cinema like Karan Johar, who stated that the movie which has an intriguing base in the form of the historical event doesn't need any trends to aid it in the box office run, and Zee Studios who also distribute it. 

Chirantan Bhatt and co composes the musical score for Kesari and he is one of the best music directors in India who is an apt choice for heavy historical dramas. Anshul Chobey's cinematography has captured the grandness of pertaining to the movie in what little we have seen in the lead up to the release of the movie. 

Laap watching for Kesari review, rating, and complete analysis. Be right back!