Some people are just born different. Whether it’s a little boy’s reflex action to protectively stand before a snarling dog or it’s a young adult facing a neighbour’s abusive husband who’s ready to hurl acid, Sandeep Unnikrishnan was always wired to take a bullet for others.
Combined with the little boy’s fascination for the uniform, there was no way Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan’s life could have turned out in any way other than standing up to, taking on and taking down the terrorists who held Mumbai and the Taj Palace Hotel to ransom on 26/11/2008.
In the film, Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan (Adivi Sesh) spontaneously takes a knee, prompting his commanding officer and his colleagues to join him, when there’s a television news flash of army officers being killed in some part of India. In real life, Adivi Sesh may take a bow for not only playing the Major and immortalising him with an endearing charm but for also writing the story and an engaging screenplay.
When you know the end right at the onset and you’ve read all about the true life story of Major Unnikrishnan who saved the lives of more than a dozen hostages and told his NSG (National Security Guards) colleagues, “Don’t come up, I’ll handle them” when his own life was ebbing from him, you wonder how director Sashi Kiran Tikka is going to retain the attention of the viewer for nearly two and a half hours. Many a film and a many a show like Mumbai Diaries has already put on celluloid the terror attack on Mumbai in November 2008, including the track of a female guest (Shobhita Dhulipala in this narration) who rescued another’s guest’s little girl. So when the same story is repeated in the now all too familiar inside of the Taj hotel, you groan and wait for a splendid story to turn into a stretched cliché.
But Adivi’s screenplay which veers away from the attack to flashback into the personal before returning to the scene of action, makes you smile and salute in turns. It plays with your heart by the retelling of his life through the voice of his parents (Prakash Raj, Revathy) and detailing his romance with Isha (Saiee Manjrekar). The boy with a lifelong crush on schoolmate Isha, a romance so sweet and a chemistry so strong that you can’t wait for the kiss that’ll seal their love.
Also Read: Anek Review- Too Much Makes It Messy
But there’s a reason why in real life it was the Major’s mother who received the Ashok Chakra, India’s highest peacetime gallantry award, and why stories and interviews have always featured only Sandeep’s parents and never his wife. It’s poignant all the way as the soldier who put duty before family had such dramatic moments in his short life that Major, the film, is a lot more than only his ultimate sacrifice on that fateful Friday, two days after terror was unleashed on Mumbai city.
To mention just a few of the many moments that have you either cheering or tearing up, the PoK line by Sandeep, his bus stop scene with Isha, the rickshaw sequence when he leaves home for NDA (the National Defence Academy), his ‘Rehne do’ telephone talk with Isha in the midst of the attack, the heart-wrenching rain-drenched weeping of his parents and a climax that has the superlative Prakash Raj forcing you to reach for your handkerchief, make it a story that had to be told and told as well as Adivi and Tikka do it.
If it touches the heart of the box-office as it did mine, Major, shot in Telugu and Hindi and dubbed in Malayalam, will be another winner from the south. Watch it, it’s worthy of a salute.
Watch ‘Major’ Trailer: