I must confess I was majorly disappointed. Majorly!
When you watch a story that is as real, contemporary and chest thumping-justifying triumphant and glorious saga like the Uri Surgical Strike by Indian paramilitary forces, and a landmark film has already been made on it that sticks predominantly to facts and has bene a smash-hit, a 9-episode (approximately) 240 minutes web series makes us keen to find out more of the detailing and facts that were not commonly known.
What we get instead in “Avrodh-The Siege Within,” from a too-many-cooks gang of six writers (including two who had written a chapter on it in their book, on which this one is based) is a monumental exercise in “filmi” melodrama, with the usual formulae of a scoop-ravenous media, a nagging political soul at all stages in the political team that has decided on the surgical strike, a baby just delivered whose father will go on a do-or-die mission, the renegade informer conniving with the media and more.
While there are no organically inspiring lines like “How’s the josh?” we have clichés uttered by everyone, including the reel Prime Minister. The overall treatment, thanks to substandard writing and direction, ends up lacking in genuine emotions. The aim is the exact opposite, of course, but excessive fakeness and calculation never brought home the emotional bacon, right?
Everything seems too conventional, too trope-laden and with none of those real thrills or tension—which should always be the hallmark of any good thriller even when we know the end. Being bland is one thing, being antiseptic another!
But the worst part of “Avrodh” is the silly and laughably ridiculous license taken with facts. A surgical strike is one that is quick, ruthless and perfectly on target. In reality, our brave platoon went across the LOC late in the night, walked a good distance, did what was needed and were safely back before dawn.
Here, they stay back in Pakistani terrain for over 24 hours, just to eliminate a major terrorist named Abu Hafiz (Anil George)! What’s more, all the action, again calculated and cold, focuses on the team led by Videep Singh (Amit Sadh) and nothing is shown of the other three divisions of soldiers, what they did, and how they fared! As a further blow to accuracy, one soldier is shown being injured by an enemy bullet and helped across the border by his team! In reality, there was no time for the enemy forces to even chase the Indian contingent, for they all lay dead!
So absurd is this whole depiction (with the PM, the National Security Advisor and their team staying up — more than 24 hours — in one room, watching what is happening on video!) that we can easily suspect that this cinematic misadventure (that’s what it is!) has been masterminded by someone who, like our “worthy opposition parties” thinks that the Surgical Strike was a propaganda and a myth! For if you are presenting fiction, you can take great licenses with it!
Searching online for the cast and credits of this series, I stumbled upon three major reviews of this one, and none mentioned to oh-so-blatant misrepresentation of facts.
And there too, I wonder why…
Shanu Kumar Gupta’s camerawork is good, the background music undistinguished, and director Raj Acharya seems to be in the mood to make a TV soap with some action rather than give necessary insights to the people of a glorious night in Indian history almost four years down the line.
The performances are good in parts. Vikram Gokhale blends a part of Narendra Modi with his typical style of acting and dialogue delivery. Amit Sadh is sincere, Darshan Kumaar routine and too stiff for the emotional sequences with wife and colleagues, and Madhurima Tuli is too stereotypically “filmi.” Even more so is Nikhil Sangha (recently seen in “Illegal”) as her boss.
Arif Zakaria impresses, but Sunita Bharadwaj as our External Affairs Minister is nothing short of a calamity. Also, we fail to see why fictitious names are given for so obviously real characters like the PM, Ajit Kumar Doval and other key people involved in the mission. That is also true of so many such real stories in recent years.
The saving grace of the film is Neeraj Kabi, playing the reel version of Doval, as his performance is nuanced and thus impactful. Ananth Narayan Mahadevan comes across as ludicrous as he is supposed to be, so we guess he’s effective too!
But the series isn’t. There are a lot of inanities, inaccuracies and incompetencies that act as an “avrodh” (which means a barrier) to a basic accomplishment needed.
Produced & Created by: Applause Entertainment’s & Irada Entertainment
Directed by: Raj Acharya
Written by: Harmanjeet Singha, Sudeep Nigam, Abhishek Chatterjee & Aadhar Khurana from a chapter in the book “India’s Most Fearless” by Shiv Aroor & Rahul Singh
Music: Nirmal Pandya
Starring: Amit Sadh, Vikram Gokhale, Darshan Kumaar, Madhurima Tuli, Ananth Narayan Mahadevan, Nikhil Sangha, Anil George, Umar Sharif, Pavail Gulati, Neeraj Kabi, Arif Zakaria, Mir Sarwar, Meghaban Kaushik, Praveena Deshpande & others