Major movie review: Adivi Sesh’s tribute to the 26/11 hero is flawed but effective
Actor and filmmaker Adivi Sesh has been fascinated by the courage and the story of late 26/11 hero Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan. He first saw the latter’s passport-size photo on a news channel in San Francisco in 2008. Sesh has been a fan of Sandeep ever since and has collected every news clipping he could find on his inspiration. That admiration for the real-life hero culminated in a three-hour-long action drama, Major.
26/11 is not like the wars that play out at the edges of our land, whose ground conditions fall beyond our grasp of understanding. It was a war that took place right at the heart of our country. It had turned Mumbai into a war zone. And India’s elite force NSG (National Security Guard) was called in to lead the urban warfare. Sandeep and his hit team landed in alien terrain. They didn’t know where the terrorists were hiding. How many terrorists are in the building? What’s their plan? They knew they were duty-bound to protect the country against an unimaginable threat.
Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan was just 31 when he died fighting terrorists at the Taj Hotel in 2008, thus becoming the first NSG commander to die in action.
The siege provides such an explosive background to whip up an edge-of-the-seat movie. But, in an interview, Adivi Sesh had told that the events of 26/11 were just a chapter in Sandeep’s life. And Major was not a film about how he died. But, it was an account of the colorful life he lived.
Our protagonist, injured Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan (Adivi Sesh), commands the NSG officers on the other side of the intercom in debris and fire, “Do not come up. I will handle them.’ He singlehandedly corners the four terrorists to the Ballroom in the northern end of the under-sieged Taj Mahal Hotel.
Similarly, Adivi Sesh holds this biopic on his sturdy shoulders when the writing goes off the mark in places. But does he emerge victorious?
Positives: Adivi Sesh, Action sequences
Negatives: Adivi Sesh-Saiee Manjrekar’s romantic track isn’t that impressive.
The film opens with the fateful night of 28/11, where a critically wounded NSG commando Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan (Adivi Sesh). He comes up with an idea to corner the terrorists and asks his crew to stop coming up.
Through flashbacks and Sandeep’s father’s (Prakash Raj) narration, the film peeks into his childhood and adolescent years. As a kid, Sandeep is a fan of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s action flick Commando. But, when it comes to his real-life ‘Commando,’ the boy looks up to his father.
An outing to a Navy Day celebration makes Sandeep realize his true calling. The film then takes us through his high-school days. Finally, in the boys ‘ washroom, a chance encounter with a Delhi-born newbie Isha (Saiee Manjrekar) leads to a frothy teenage romance between the two.
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While Sandeep’s parents want him to take up engineering or medicine after his schooling, he expresses his dream to serve the country instead. Initially reluctant, they soon accepted his choice and sent him to NDA. After years of military training, Sandeep is appointed as a training officer in the elite 51 Special Action Group of the National Security Guards (NSG).
As the years’ pass, besides fighting wars, the soldier now struggles on the domestic front, trying to make amends with his wife, Isha. Then, finally, the unforgetful night of 26/11 arrives.
The direction of the film Major
Director Sashi Kiran Tikka, known for helming films like Areyrey and Goodachari, executes the bravura story of a real-life hero engagingly. Adivi Sesh, credited for the story and the screenplay, ensures that your eyes stay glued to the screen. The Director picks up a few incidents from the life of Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan besides the tragic 26/11 Mumbai attacks. However, while the portion involving Sandeep’s equation with his parents involves a few tear-jerking moments, the soldier’s love life fails to engage us. One might wish this track was written in a better way.
What starts as a cute budding love story later gets boring and repetitive. Actor Saiee Manjrekar’s inability to have a firm grip on performing emotional scenes brings some negative points to the film.
Sesh, who makes his Hindi film debut with Major, appears confident on-screen. He has what it takes to flesh out a real-life martyr on screen. But, at the same time, he is convincing when it comes to bringing the vulnerability, innocence, and commitment in the childhood and teenage chapters of Major Unnikrishnan.
Saiee Manjrekar is one of the weakest links in Major. Though she starts well, it barely lasts for long. The actress needs to up her game regarding dialogue delivery and emotional scenes.
Prakash Raj and Revathy prove why they are known to be distinguished actors when it comes to reel. Both of them get some excellent moments where they shine. Likewise, Murali Sharma and Sobhita Dhulipala are influential in their brief roles.
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One of the major highlights of this Adivi Sesh-starrer is its well-crafted action sequences which keep you glued to your seats. Be it on land or in water; there are moments where you hold your breath. Vamsi Patchipulusu’s cinematography captures the blood, war, emotions, and tension gripping.
Vinay Kumar Sirigineedi and Kodati Pavan Kalyan’s editing falters in a few tricky places but works fine in totality.
Unlike last year’s release, Siddharth Malhotra-Kiara Advani starrer Shershaah, Major fails to hit the target when giving songs with recall value. Thankfully, the makers keep their bare minimum. But unfortunately, Sricharan Pakala’s music has nothing new to offer.
Major Movie Verdict:
“Uske liye accha beta banne se jyaada, ek accha pati banne se jyaada, kahin jyaada zaroor thha ek soldier banna,” recalls the slained war hero’s father K Unnikrishnan (Prakash Raj) while addressing a crowd at the 26/11 memorial.
Adivi Sesh’s Major primarily focuses on this sentiment. It depicts the tragedy of a life cut short by an unfortunate event. But, at the same time, it also reminds us that the sacrifices made by soldiers ain’t just limited to the battlefield.
‘We give this movie a 6-star rating out of 10.