Sam Bahadur – A lackluster effort which disappoints


A review by Sanjiva Sahai

Sam Bahadur, the biopic by Meghna Gulzar, attempts to bring Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw to life, but it’s a lacklustre effort that falls flat. Watching his interviews or listening to audio recordings would have been a more engaging tribute.

Yes, the movie falls flatter than a pancake, lacking the cinematic excellence needed to do justice to this real-life hero’s valour and contributions. The screenplay and execution, akin to a deflated balloon at a celebration, fail to capture the essence of his remarkable journey. It’s almost as if the scriptwriters were aiming for a snooze fest rather than a compelling tribute to the national icon.

Furthermore, the core of the narrative hinges on the war sequences. Whether lifted from dusty archives in mere snippets or presented without leaving a discernible impact, these scenes fail to contribute meaningfully to the overall theme.

The movie adopts a docudrama-like tempo, punctuated by sporadic witty moments that aim to reflect the essence of Sam’s character. Unfortunately, this approach falls short of creating a consistently engaging experience, leaving viewers yearning for a more dynamic and compelling storytelling rhythm.

Vicky Kaushal nails the postures but overdoses on drama in dialogue delivery, occasionally channeling Dev Anand – a peculiar choice. His characterization is more external that misses out on the depth. The actor who moved everyone of us with Sardar Udham, stays put on the periphery. Fatima Sana Sheikh’s portrayal of Indira Gandhi lacks authenticity, bordering on the amateurish. Most of the actors in the movie come and go unnoticed. In the midst of the forgettable portrayals on reel, one can’t help but salute the vibrant spirit of the real Manekshaw.

Talking about my generation- having grown up inspired by the valour and vibrancy of Manekshaw, listening to his words on the radio and later on TV, the movie proves to be a disheartening disappointment.
_____ Sanjiva Sahai

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32 Responses

  1. Avatar Col Shirish Karajgi says:

    Having seen and heard the actual Sam, while in the Army, I have all praise for Vicky Kaushal in bringing that Heroic Character, to life. Such movies would certainly give a good idea to our present day young men and women, what life in the Army, is like.

  2. Avatar Gautam Gupta says:

    The criticism of Shri Sanjiva Sahai can’t be digested. Its his thinking. But tge movie was a super hit with both old and young people. Nicely crafted film of a great personality.

  3. Avatar Manoj Dasgupta says:

    I feel it was a far superior movie in comparison to Animal. While SAM aptly captured the persona of India’s larger-than life-super hero inspiring generation of young Indians towards greatness; ANIMAL in contrast catered to the cranial urges of frustrated Men seeking validation of their masculinity. The fact that the latter was more successful reflects on the degenerating mindset of the audiences.

  4. Avatar Professor says:

    Come on….!

  5. Avatar Aksh says:

    Don’t be silly
    It was a much better movie then yours ‘Pathaan’ and ‘Jawaan’

  6. Avatar Anuradha says:

    If you read Dev Anand’s autobiography you will get a clear idea of where Dev Anand got his inspiration for in the movie ‘Hum Dono’.
    Remember this movie was after the Sino-Indian war and S.M. was already a war hero by then.

  7. Avatar Renuka krishna says:

    Very unjust and untrue criticism!!! Enjoyed the was a biopic…so naturally lacked the regular fanfare…pancake and overdose indeed…was a well made movie, with awesome performances…

  8. Avatar Rakesh Sharma says:

    I totally agree with your review, unfortunately many don’t understand the nuances of a biopic film and get confused emotionally with the subject rather than understanding the craft of film making. This story telling couldve been better laid out to make a more interesting film.

  9. Avatar Manoj Kumar says:

    I wonder if such an extremely critical review of a brilliant movie genuine or planted with unclear motives. Hailing from a Defence background and having mysrlf witnessed many of the events shown in the film, all that I can say is that the movie is a marvelous depiction of our historical events that went a long way in creating the persona and statesmanship of a legend like Gen Sam Manekshaw

  10. Avatar vijay rana says:

    Pathetic criticism to say the least.This is one of the rare occasion when movie with defence background is depicted to flawlessly.The cinematography,teaching,the narrative are top class.But ti understand that one needs to have clear understanding of cinema.

  11. Avatar Sreenath says:

    Meaningless and malicious review. I saw the movie and thoroughly enjoyed it. I strongly recommend this movie to all, movie buffs included.

  12. Avatar Arun Kumar says:

    I am a retired senior army officer .I have interacted with Field Marshal during my initial days in the army.I have seen the film twice. I am very impressed with the depth in coverage of subject and superlative acting .

  13. Avatar Akash says:

    Sam Bahadur is the kind of inspirational movie which we need to watch with our family and especially with the children to make them understand what “Character” our real heroes/ leader are made off. After a long time we got to watch a clean movie with no- nonsence scene or over rhetorics. To capture life of Field Marshal Manekshaw in a movie is no mean feat. I believe that all the major highlights were being shown with the utmost honesty and dignity. What to say about Vicky who just mesmerized us with the finesse he played the character immersing himself in the boots of Field Marshal Manekshaw!! It will just blow your mind. Infact most of the characters were near to perfect ( Ya Ya Khan). It is definitely a must watch and should be on top of any movie enthusiasts list.

  14. Avatar Arvind says:

    Totally biased review

  15. Avatar Anil Kumar says:

    It is sad to see how an outstanding film made with so much of effort and research can be trashed by a critic who is not fair. I have seen the movie and enjoyed every bit of it. A must see for every Indian . My compliments to the director and Vicky

  16. Avatar Haimanti Ghosal says:

    I saw it twice.First I thought so many incidents were left behind.
    Second time I thoroughly enjoyed both the performance & direction.Hope more people will follow it to know about the most illustrious character of Sam Bahadur

    • Avatar Dwarkanath says:

      Wish Gulazar Saab had judged prior to release, belonging senior generation

    • Avatar Sunil Agarwal says:

      This is the first time I am hearing about the poor quality of film making. I saw the movie and found it to be compelling. Any one who has donned the Army uniform and their families will agree with me.

    • Avatar Dalia says:

      Yes, absolutely 💯
      I too watched this movie

  17. Avatar D. Narain says:

    I personally feel that criticism of the critic is unfair, There are many viewers I have come across, who hold similar views about the film and not all of them are lay film buffs. I don’t think that anybody can deny that Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, was a near-mythical colossus, but that doesn’t mean that a film made about him has to be a colossus too. Please read what other critics are saying:

  18. Avatar Sunil Kumar says:

    I think this critic has decided to trash the film, and tear it up. Critiques are balanced and analyse the strengths of the film, as also it weaknesses. A review such as this sounds suspiciously predetermined if not motivated by malice. Finally the reviewer needs to take a course in how to do a film review. This is a film which like many other western films is a eulogy on the protagonist who was a war hero and undisputedly one of India’s best military officers with a penchant for being outspoken and strongly independent minded. That is how the film portrays him and any shortcomings are only with how the director interprets the man and how the political establishment treated him. The author did not wish to ruffle feathers or engage in any controversial skirmishes .

  19. Avatar J.SGill says:

    I found Sam Bahadur an immensely watchable movie. Vicky Kaushal did a fabulous job in portraying Sam Manekshaw. It’s not easy to capture all the nuances of a personality like Sam, and also talks that were held behind closed doors. Some of it is available in Sam’s own interviews. The movie captures some portions only of his life and it’s done a good job. Indira Gandhi’s portrayal lacked conviction and the character appeared a misfit.

  20. Avatar Abhijit Sengupta says:

    This was an utterly predisposed attempt to malign a wonderful effort.The film was made after an extensive research carefully considering the financial resources. The war was shown intelligently by showing the war scenes mostly with archived clippings as it was simply not viable financially to shoot the real like war field. The director knew that the audience would definitely compare the scenes with others when they had the privilege of witnessing the film like SPR. Further more, when the film was on legend like Sam and his style of management, it would have been futile to spend unnecessary funds on that. Now comes Vicky Kaushal. If George D Scott could get Oscar for Patton then V.K. should be praised for his portrayal of Sam. It is a very common phenomena that an actor normally go little overboard while performing role of a celebrity. Please remember MS in Iron Lady, RC in Robinhood, RB as Mark Anthony. Since we get Sam with his unique banter in several YouTube videos it is very easy to downgrade performance of V.K..He acted outstandingly. Rest of the actors played their part and those roles were just passer by as the script demanded. The film just didn\\\’t deserve the criticism, Mr. Sahay detailed.

  21. Avatar Abinandan Bose says:

    How many films have you made?

  22. Avatar Pankaj Gupta says:

    I do not agree with Sri Sahai. Sam Bahadur is a valiant effort and the typical gait and address of Sam Manekshaw brings him live. Those in the services may be knowing more of his habits and moves onn and off the field but for the reasons of security can not be revealed. Shaikh as IG was a disappointment and looked in awe of Sam but we who were facing these reports can not but forget the inspiration or impact that real life IG gave us. Sam character would be bigger only if you make IG’s character larger than life which it was. When IG called Sam and there were difference of opinion flash of spark flew. It was Clash of Titans. That part Director missed. Floors trembled when Sam was asked by IG of war immediately and he held his ground.
    Still Vicky Boy was Great and so allso the movie.

  23. Avatar vbbatra says:

    It is not easy to portray a character like sam needs lots of grit,dedication and study.even without seeing the movie i can empathise with the comments above

  24. Avatar Devender says:

    I have not seen the movie still I appreciate your comments
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    Indian armed forces had raised concerns on large influx from Bangla Desh and Task force 74 presence . Our army officers did home work with Russian diplomats for treaty with Russia and it was Russian Submarines presence which kept Force 74 not to intervene and India could manage Surrender.