Kargil Vijay Diwas: At Shershaah Trailer Launch, Vikram Batra’s Brother Says “The Dream Has Come True”
22 years ago, Captain Vikram Batra lost his life fighting for the country in the Kargil War. For years, his twin brother Vishal Batra dreamed of telling Vikram’s story on screen. Finally, on Sunday the day before Kargil Vijay Diwas, Vishal stood next to the Shershaah team – Sidharth Malhotra, Kiara Advani, Vishnu Vardhan and Karan Johar – in Kargil and unveiled the Vikram Batra’s biopic trailer, Shershaah.
“It was our dream to make a film about Vikram and it originated in 2015. Shabbir Boxwala of Kaash Entertainment (co-producer, Shershaah) was the first person to approach us about making the film,” Vishal said during the launch of the trailer, which marked Kargil Vijay Diwas’ 22nd celebration.
During the Indo-Pakistani conflict of the summer of 1999, Captain Vikram Batra stood out for his bravery and skill. He shot dead four Pakistani soldiers and died saving his injured comrade. While attempting to drag the soldier to safety by deliberately exposing himself to enemy fire, he was shot in the chest and an RPG bullet shard hit him in the head.
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For his service and acts of bravery, he was awarded the Param Vir Chakra, India’s highest military decoration.
Shabbir Boxwala, who developed a close friendship with the Batra family over the course of the film, said when first meeting that they ceded rights to Vikram’s life to him.
“It was the happiest day of my life. They are part of the family. The support of the Indian military and its family was very essential and unconditional, ”said the producer.
For a year, Vishal Batra wondered who would be the right choice to authentically portray Vikram on screen, until another first encounter gave him his answer. “The first time I met Sidharth Malhotra in Mumbai in 2016, we knew he was the right fit for the role.” While Vishal did not reveal what Sidharth had convinced him about Vikram, producer Karan Johar did reveal that it was all in the actor’s eyes.
“A young actor came into my office and told me this story with a lot of passion and enthusiasm. Of course we all knew the story, but the way he expressed the nuances of it, I read the character in his eyes, ”Karan said as he introduced Sidharth on stage.
Seeming overwhelmed, Sidharth Malhotra said that Shershaah was a greater experience than any movie because for the first time he played a “real life hero”.
“This day is extremely moving for me. We started this journey five years ago with Vishal Batra ji… This is my first film where I have portrayed the life of a real hero, whether personal or professional. Shershaah was a bigger experience than a movie. This story is about real real life heroes like you. And I consider myself lucky to have been able to play it, ”the actor said.
Equally nervous was Kiara Advani, who plays Dimple Cheema, the fiancée of Vikram Batra. Karan Johar introduced his character the “heartbeat” of Shershaah. “I am quite nervous at the moment because I am in front of the Indian army for the first time. No number of words would justify the gratitude we all have in our hearts for each of you. I also want to thank the families here. We salute you for your support, your prayers and for being true pillars of strength for the men and women in uniform. “
Kiara said that Shershaah was one of the few films in her career to have personally touched her. “Some films change you professionally, but there are some that change you personally. Shershaah is that movie for me. Thank you to the Batra family, Dimple and everyone who made this possible for us. I will be eternally grateful. We can’t wait to share this with the world, ”the actor said.
Shershaah marks the Bollywood debut of Tamil filmmaker Vishnu Vardhan. The director spoke to Kargil about the experience of filming the film, which gave the crew a tiny idea of how difficult it is for the military to fight a battle on these rugged terrain.
Some opportunities present themselves once in a lifetime. This is the opportunity for me. We never thought we would turn to Kargil. One can imagine what it would have been like during the war. Every time we shot we could see everything come to life. What we filmed from these heights is nothing compared to what the Indian military achieved back then. So we tried to put everything possible on the screen, ”Vishnu said.
The launch of the Shershaah trailer was a small part of the big event, organized by the military, to celebrate the 22nd Kargil Diwas which marked India’s victory over Pakistan in the 1999 war.
The evening held at the National Horse Polo Ground, Dras, Kargil brought together not only men and women in uniform, but also their families and the relatives of all the soldiers who lost their lives in the Kargil War.
The two-hour program saw performances by a group of army officers and Ladakhi students, who sang patriotic songs from Karan Johar’s films – “Teri Mitti” by Kesari and “Ae Watan” by Raazi. Echoes of patriotism warmed the blustery night as the Shershaah team also paid a video tribute to the martyrs of Kargil that featured snippets of the conflict and footage of Vikram Batra.
Shershaah will arrive on Amazon Prime Video on August 12.
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