Sam Bahadur is the highly anticipated biopic based on the life of India’s first Field Marshal, Sam Manekshaw. Directed by Meghna Gulzar and starring Vicky Kaushal in the titular role, the film has created quite a buzz since its announcement. After much delay due to the pandemic, Sam Bahadur finally got its release on December 1, 2023.
As expected, the movie is a fitting tribute to the legendary Sam Manekshaw, bringing to life his courageous leadership during the 1971 Indo-Pak war. With its perfect casting, attention to detail, and realistic portrayal of the events, Sam Bahadur makes for an engaging watch. Read on for a detailed review of one of the most-awaited biopics of the year.
Sam Bahadur Movie Review: Direction & Music
With films like Raazi and Chhapaak to her credit, Meghna Gulzar has proved her mettle as one of the finest directors in contemporary Indian cinema. She brings the same depth and sensitivity to Sam Bahadur. The movie has been meticulously researched, with several incidents mirroring Manekshaw’s life events. Meghna wonderfully weaves the various episodes to build an inspiring narrative of the Field Marshal’s journey.
Every scene reflects the director’s grasp of the subject matter. The movie effectively captures the courage and wit that made Sam Manekshaw a charismatic leader during the war. The execution is near-perfect. Meghna’s craft shines through in the war sequences, shot with utmost realism. If there’s one thing she could have improved, the pace in the first half sometimes sags a little.
Regarding the music, the background score by Shantanu Moitra aptly captures the emotions throughout Sam Bahadur’s stint in the army. It elevates the narrative during the war scenes. However, the absence of any memorable standalone songs somewhat dampens the musical aspect of the movie.
Sam Bahadur Movie Plot
Sam Bahadur depicts the journey of Sam Manekshaw, from his days at the military academy to becoming the Chief of Army Staff, leading India to victory against Pakistan in 1971. Born to Parsi parents, Sam was drawn towards the army at a young age. After initial roadblocks and prejudices, he persevered and had an illustrious military career marked by brave feats in World War II.
The movie focuses on three key aspects of Sam’s life: his witty and straightforward personality, his conviction to stand up for what is right, and his exemplary leadership capabilities. Some touching scenes show his relationship with his wife, Silloo, and how she supported him. The narrative keeps you hooked while acquainting you with the events unfolding around Sam over the years.
Of course, a huge part of the movie is dedicated to the 1971 war, from political negotiations to military preparations and, finally, the victory on both fronts. Meghna beautifully depicts Sam’s strategic thinking, handling of logistics, and conduct of the war in solidarity with Mukti Bahini, which ultimately led to the surrender of 93,000 Pakistani soldiers. The climax will swell your hearts with patriotic pride as Sam signs the Instrument of Surrender and proves his point of not going to Pakistan unless he is a conqueror.
Sam Bahadur Movie Cast
Portraying a distinguished personality like Sam Manekshaw was always going to be a challenging task. But Vicky Kaushal leaves no stone unturned, perfectly fitting into the character’s skin. He has undertaken intense preparation for over a year, taking diction lessons and understanding Sam’s mannerisms.
Vicky wonderfully emotes Sam’s indomitable passion for the army and his witty charm, which could disarm even in difficult situations. His chemistry with Sanya Malhotra, playing Sam’s wife Silloo, looks natural. Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub, as Yahya Khan, also has an impactful presence in a few scenes. Fatima Sana Shaikh, as Indira Gandhi, and Neeraj Kabi, as Jawaharlal Nehru, deliver competent performances in the supporting cast. Other actors, like Keita Arai, Edward Sonenblick, and Richard Bhakti Klein, also do justice to their roles.
However, Vicky Kaushal’s award-worthy portrayal of Sam Bahadur stays with you long after. He carries the whole film with his phenomenal acting, which makes you root for the war hero from start to finish.
Sam Bahadur Movie Budget & Location
Backed by Ronnie Screwvala’s RSVP films, Sam Bahadur has been mounted on a lavish scale with a budget of around ₹55 crores. Shot across a few indoor and outdoor areas, the film genuinely rejuvenates occasions spreading over quite a few years.
To showcase Manekshaw’s military career, scenes have been filmed across Maharashtra’s Mukand Theatre and Film City, where replica sets depicting army bases and war fronts were created. The war sequences shot from Manekshaw’s point-of-view were filmed in majestic Ladakh landscapes. Certain indoor sequences replicating government offices and residences were shot inside Mumbai’s Film City Studios.
The combined production design by Mansi Dhruv Mehta and Dmitrii Malich aptly captures the era through well-detailed sets and props. The costume design by Delhi-based designer Payal Saluja also adds authenticity to that period.
Overall, Sam Bahadur looks like a big-budget war biopic that does justice to the towering personality of Sam Manekshaw. The production quality shines through, and you can see the effort that has gone into recreating that era on celluloid.
Sam Bahadur Movie Tickets Prices
Released on over 4500 screens across India and 500 screens overseas, Sam Bahadur is one of the biggest openers of 2023 for a Bollywood film. With the long holiday weekend boosting audiences, the war biopic amassed an impressive ₹28–30 crore worldwide box office collections over its first three days.
In the Delhi NCR region, tickets were sold in the range of ₹200–300 over the opening weekend in regular cinema halls. The prices reached up to ₹750 in high-end multiplex chains like PVR & INOX for recliner seats. Due to the weekend and holiday rush, Mumbai witnessed even higher prices, between ₹200 and ₹600 per ticket. Down south, in Bengaluru and Chennai, the tickets ranged from ₹200 to ₹500.
Upwards of 90% occupancy was reported over the first days, underscoring the strong word-of-mouth publicity enjoyed by Sam Bahadur. The film stays steady during the weekdays, so one can expect packed houses over the second weekend. Booking tickets in advance would be advisable for moviegoers who have yet to watch it.
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Early Oscar Buzz for Sam Bahadur
Belying expectations of it being a conventional patriotic saga, Sam Bahadur offers a mature, sensitive portrayal of a war hero. In the words of Sam Manekshaw himself, “I am not a miracle man, only a practical man.” The film brings forth this practical man behind the legend in a realistic manner.
Vicky Kaushal, Meghna Gulzar, and the film are highly praised in India and globally. Vicky’s nuanced performance makes him a strong contender for Best Actor trophies next year. With its production values on par with world-class war movies, many predict nominations for Sam Bahadur across major categories in the 2023 Academy Awards. While Indian films seldom make the Oscar cut, Sam Bahadur has a strong chance, given Hollywood’s recent inclination towards realistic historical dramas.
Sam Bahadur has received an overwhelmingly positive response from audiences so far. Vicky Kaushal’s powerful performance as the legendary Field Marshal is being hailed as the film’s biggest strength. His magnetic screen presence and flawless emoting are garnering praise across the board. The war sequences, in particular, keep the audiences glued to their seats, according to initial audience reviews. Many youngsters watching the film feel patriotic and inspired by Sam Manekshaw’s courageous leadership. Meghna Gulzar’s skillful direction in building an intriguing narrative around the Bangladesh Liberation War also wins accolades.
While the runtime is receiving mixed responses, with some finding it a little too long, most have opined that it does justice to capture the many facets of Sam’s illustrious career. Many singly singled out emotional scenes with his wife Silloo as unexpectedly poignant. Overall, Sam Bahadur is being touted by both critics and junta as one of the best biopics to have come out from Bollywood lately. With a widely appealing subject and execution, the film seems set for a successful run at the box office if early booking trends are anything to go by.
Sam Bahadur is a fitting tribute to the legendary Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, who led India to victory in the 1971 Indo-Pak war. Through Vicky Kaushal’s outstanding portrayal and Meghna Gulzar’s sensitive direction, the film brings Sam’s charismatic leadership and military strategizing skills alive. While the first half falters in parts, the war sequences are executed with the utmost realism. The production design and costumes transport you straight into the world of the 1970s.
Sam’s touching equation with his wife also makes for poignant viewing. Despite its length, Sam Bahadur keeps you engaged while acquainting the current generation with a key chapter of history. It is a must-watch for every Indian to understand the courage and grit of extraordinary heroes like Sam Manekshaw, who shaped our past and the present. As its protagonist says in the film, this is not just a movie but a moment in Indian cinema that will be remembered for a long.