March 28, 2023

reviewer’s note:


Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan was an Indian Army officer serving in the elite National Security Guards 51 Special Action Group. He was killed in action during the attack on Mumbai in November 2008 and was subsequently awarded the Ashoka Chakra, India’s highest award for bravery in peacetime. Major is a fictional account of his life. As his father K Unnikrishnan (Prakash Raj) proudly says in commemoration: “My son’s life was not about how he died, but how he lived.

In the film, we meet the one who later became the martyr, giving everything for the love of his country. We see Sandeep (Adivi Sesh) growing up with the love of the uniform in his eyes, hypnotized by the white of the Navy. Circumstances force him to choose the army, where after completing the regular course, he joins the commando training course and completes it, and later becomes a training officer. He is seen boldly crossing the COL in Kashmir and playing cricket with the local children in no man’s land, he is seen coaching comrades with eagle-eyed vigilance and is also seen struggling to find a balance between personal and professional life. We are also introduced to the love of his life, his childhood sweetheart Isha Agarwal (Saiee Manjrekar). She doesn’t just want to be a military wife and has her own ambitions. They both share a deep bond but tensions surface in the relationship due to the nature of his job. The character of Isha states in the film that while everyone talks about the sacrifices made by the soldiers, no one realizes the sacrifices made by their families. Their love story isn’t your typical Bollywood fare, but has the ebbs and flows of a normal relationship.

The second half of the film is devoted to the Bombay terrorist attacks of November 26, 2008. The notorious deeds of Kasab and other infiltrators are shown in gory detail. Terrorists took over the iconic Taj Mahal hotel and NSG commandos managed to rescue the hostages and kill those responsible in a multi-day operation. Although creative freedom is taken to recreate the events that take place inside the hotel, they still leave an impact. Seeing so many people being killed without mercy shakes you. Sandeep is presented as a one-man army taking charge of rescue operations single-handedly and returning to action even if injured. Along with her track, we also see Sobhita Dhulipala, who performs a guest named Pramoda Reddy. She helps save a little girl from the clutches of terrorists and goes through difficult times. The sequences add another twist to the film’s plot and familiarize us with the terror faced by innocent bystanders.

The media reported the rescue operations piecemeal and Pakistani managers watching TV were able to communicate the moment of the commandos through it. Editorial discretion was sorely lacking at that time and this point is also made by the film. A media blackout would surely have saved more lives, but it was a command decision that should have been made by those in power. It was a bitter lesson learned.

Sandeep’s last words were reportedly, “Don’t come up, I’ll handle it.” The poignancy of the last scene stays with you, as he is shown shooting in the direction of the enemy with his last breath. Adivi Sesh, who also wrote the film, gives an inspired performance playing the lead role. He seems to have understood what Major Unnikrishnan stood for and brings the late soldier’s pride and commitment to his performance without overdoing it. The sincerity with which he tries out the role is palpable indeed. Adivi is destined for bigger things after that. Saiee Manjrekar looks good as a partner who finds she doesn’t get what she asked for and is unhappy about it. It’s a balanced performance from the young actor, depicting both love and frustration. Veterans Revathy and Prakash Raj make their presence felt as a grieving mother and father. The little nuances they bring to their gestures set them a mile above the rest. Murli Sharma plays the stern commander with a heart of gold and pulls it off without a hitch. Sobhita Dhulipala is also effective as a brave hotel guest who does her best to save a child.

All in all, Major is a fitting tribute to Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, a soldier who went above and beyond the call of duty to help his countrymen in times of need. He showed us what true gallantry looks like and Adivi Sesh’s performance gives us a glimpse of what kind of man he was – a true warrior who lived and died by his own code.

Trailer: Major

Neeshita Nyayapati, May 31, 2022, 00:15 IST

reviewer’s note:


Story: “What is a soldier? is a question Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan has had to grapple with ever since he joined the Indian Army. It’s a question he asks himself even as he fights terrorists in Mumbai on the fateful day of 26/11.

Exam: You know how the saying goes, that funerals are for the living and not for the dead? If you thought Sashi Kiran Tikka is Major was just a tribute to the martyr of 11/26, you are wrong. This film is a tribute to the sacrifices a lonely wife had to make each time her husband left to fight bad guys, sacrifices parents have to make while praying that their son won’t be called to war. This film is for those whose sacrifices are rarely recognized while they are most often in mourning.
Sandeep Unnikrishnan (Adivi Sesh) has a protective instinct embedded in his DNA. He feels fear but he doesn’t think twice before putting himself in danger if it means saving someone’s life. It’s no wonder that even as a little boy he was fascinated by the “uniform” and the way of life of a soldier. But what does it mean to be a soldier? Does it mean giving up on being a good husband and son, does it mean putting yourself first on the battlefield, or going to the extremes of being a sacrificial lamb without self-preservation? Even as he faces these questions, tragedy strikes the nation and Sandeep, now a major in the NSG, must do his part.

Go in Major, you already know how the 26/11 terrorist attack in Mumbai will unfold; you also know that Sandeep will end up a martyr. So how do you tell a story where the audience already knows the major rhythms? Although one can choose and think of various other ways, director Sashi Kiran Tikka and Adivi Sesh, who wrote the story and script, decide to focus on Sandeep the human as a whole rather than Sandeep the martyr. When the inevitable happens, you mourn not just a soldier who sacrificed his life for the country, but a life he could have lived. To reveal anything more about this coming-of-age story would be an injustice.

Helping Adivi Sesh, Saiee Manjrekar (who plays his childhood sweetheart Isha) and Shobitha Dhulipala (who plays a businesswoman called Pramoda) form a strong technical team. Saiee gets a character with heart, a character that is fully fleshed out instead of existing for fun. Shobhitha’s Pramoda is as detailed as possible; given the circumstances in which it is introduced. Abburi Ravi’s dialogue and Sricharan Pakala’s music blatantly play on your emotions, but for the most part they do it well. In fact, it’s one of their best works. Vamsi Patchipulusu’s cinematography ranges from dreamy to suffocating, depending on the scene unfolding as Vinay Kumar Sirigineedi and Kodati Pavan Kalyan make smart editing choices that stand out in key scenes. Naba’s action sequences also stand out.

However, the film is not without flaws. Abburi Ravi’s dialogue and Sricharan’s music get a little too heavy in certain scenes, forcing you to feel a certain way before you even feel it organically. Sandeep and Isha’s cute encounter doesn’t have the intended effect even though their storyline grows stronger as the film progresses. Some leads regarding Sandeep’s army mates seem incomplete. There are a few other things one could choose too, but the way the movie is crafted with a non-linear storyline doesn’t really leave you much to think about. But it should be noted that the film is not factual, both in how the events of 11/26 unfolded and in the way Sandeep presumably handled it.

Adivi Sesh gets the role of his life and he grabs it with both hands. He does a good job playing both a smooth-faced teenager who might seem naïve to a man who knows what he wants out of life and is willing to fight for it, even if circumstances don’t always allow it. . Saiee fits the role as far as her age goes, but she comes across as raw and inexperienced in the emotional scenes. Shobitha comes through in her role, as do Murli Sharma and Anish Kuruvilla. Prakash Raj and Revathi, who play Sandeep’s parents, give their all for the role. Everything from how they love their son to mourning him comes across as heartbreaking realism.

Major could be an action drama for the most part where guns and bombs become the norm after a while of running time, but the film does a good job of opting for a personal tone instead of a jingoistic one, while the latter could have been easier. This one deserves to be watched on the big screen, you won’t regret it.

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