Aditya Dhar’s Uri: The Surgical Strike is a departure from facts yet a peek into reality

Uri: The Surgical Strike was speculated to be an ultra-nationalist film—one set to pump up emotions in the run-up to the elections. The good news is it is not.

However, Uri is still the closest to what you will get to watch on the big screen on how and why the surgical strike happened, besides of course the brilliant History Channel documentary on the subject.

The makers of Uri have taken liberties to make it more Bollywood-esque and thus leaving you with a forever desire to see an Indian film that really brings on screen the realities and emotions of war, much like the West’s Saving Private Ryan or Platoon.

But what I found the most interesting is that the film actually clears many of the popular notions about the 2016 surgical strike itself.

It brings to the fore that the NDA government’s surgical strike was not the first cross-LoC raid to have taken place. Even though you have National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, played by Paresh Rawal, saying that this is “naya Hindustan” and “hum ghar mein ghusenge bhi aur maarenge bhi (we will not only barge into their home but also kill them)”, the film later contradicts him.

In the movie, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, played by Rajit Kapur, says soon after Rawal’s (the real hero of the film is Rawal and not Vicky Kaushal) comment, “aaj tak ka sabse ghaatak surgical strike”.

Incidentally, former Army chief Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag (Retd) and Northern Army Commander Lt Gen D S Hooda (Retd) have never called it so.

It is an open secret that much strife is witnessed at the LoC, but most of it is not reported. Both Gen Suhag and Lt Gen Hooda, the chief planners of the surgical strike, have always sought to draw a distinction between the 2016 operation and the ones carried out before. Kapur’s statement in the film bears testimony to this fact.

Earlier operations were carried out at the field commander level. The 2016 operation was different in terms of its scale—not just in terms of planning, the soldiers involved or the political sanction, but also in terms of the targets.

The film also shows the Pakistani security officials led by their prime minister fearing ‘another’ operation or attack, clearly indicating that cross-LoC operations have been done in the past too.

“Dubara attack karenge kya”, the Pakistani prime minister is heard saying.

The film also breaks the popular notion that the Prime Minister, along with defence minister, was watching the entire operation live—in the war room. It shows they were informed over the phone once the operation ended, which is the fact.

What is more, it acknowledges that most of the planning of the operation was done in the Northern Command and fine-tuned at the Army headquarters.

By showing on screen the interrogation of a ground worker of the terrorists, Uri depicts the dark side of counter-terrorism operations and when they become a necessity.

It also shows that the Indian Army too violates the 2003 ceasefire on occasion, contrary to popular belief: the soldiers can be seen doing so before the surgical strike.

Uri’s action sequences have been shot well. Key operations shown in the film, especially the Myanmar one, are true to real events.

The film beautifully captures the infantry section leading tactics, which change with terrain and envisage enemy lines.

What transpired at the Army camp that led to the surgical strike is a departure from facts. But then, as I said earlier, it is Bollywood.