Sam Bahadur Review: “Sam Bahadur,” despite telling the story of a legendary Indian army personnel, has a distinctive flavor that sets it apart from other films in its genre. The narrative reveals aspects previously unknown to the audience and sheds light on Sam Manekshaw’s close relationship with General Yahya Khan of Pakistan. The film also delves into the challenges he faced, including efforts to label him as anti-national by someone close to him, and showcasing his honest demeanor, such as jokingly referring to Indira Gandhi as ‘Sweetie.’ Vicky Kaushal’s superlative performance brings the character to life and gives a portrayal that feels remarkably authentic. But regardless of the film’s success on various fronts and its overall engaging quality, there is a certain lack of cohesion. While watching it, you can’t shake the impression that several milestones from Sam Manekshaw’s illustrious career have been pieced together, resulting in a slightly underwhelming end result.
A glaring drawback of the film lies in its inability to create heightened tension and intrigue. ‘Sam Bahadur’ presents several moments ripe for such dramatic intensity, but the script falls short of incorporating them effectively. Another shortcoming emerges in the film’s treatment of its female characters. Sanya Malhotra, in the role of Sam’s wife, makes only fleeting appearances and contributes little to the film’s plot. Portraying Indira Gandhi, known for her strong will and assertiveness, Fatima Sana Shaikh fails to bring this crucial element to the fore.
However, the film is not devoid of moments that contribute significantly to its overall charm. Sam’s interactions and shared moments with Gurkha soldiers, his comedic exchanges with the grumpy South Indian cook and the scenes of his meetings with Indira Gandhi – all add a unique flavor to the narrative. The film effectively captures the synergy between Sam and Indira Gandhi, showing their ability to understand and respect each other’s perspectives. The opening scenes depicting Sam’s stay in Mussoorie and Firozpur play a crucial role in shaping his character arc. They highlight the core essence of Sam as a no-nonsense, non-conforming soldier who is willing to go to any lengths to serve his country.
The standout element of the film is undoubtedly Vicky Kaushal’s performance. Kaushal once again takes on the challenge of embodying a real life character for the screen and this time too he comes out with flying colors. His impeccable manners, flawless diction and the authoritative aura he exudes are the hallmarks of a truly accomplished actor and Vicky checks all the boxes. Mohd Zeeshan Ayub essaying the role of General Yahya Khan and Govind Namdeo portraying Sardar Patel are other notable characters in the film who effectively make their presence felt.
‘Sam Bahadur’ endeavors to encapsulate the checkered career of a decorated army officer who epitomized valor and nationalism and left an indelible mark in the annals of the Indian Army as a larger than life persona. However, the film only partially succeeds in capturing those moments, and it lacks a coherent depiction of the protagonist’s famous journey. Vicky Kaushal emerges as a saving grace for the film and delivers a performance that goes a long way in making up for its shortcomings. Vicky Kaushal has delivered a commendable effort, but ‘Sam Bahadur’ falls short of being a cinematic experience that can be enjoyed in its entirety, offering enjoyment only in fragmented segments.