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Major review: Adivi Sesh's film on 26/11 blasts hero Sandeep Unnikrishnan is bland and unaffecting

There are a lot of loose ends in the story while the mechanical performances don't help the team's cause

2rating
  • Srivathsan Nadadhur

Last Updated: 08.52 PM, Jun 02, 2022

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Major review: Adivi Sesh's film on 26/11 blasts hero Sandeep Unnikrishnan is bland and unaffecting
Major

Story:

Sandeep Unnikrishnan is like another boy-next-door with a rosy childhood, who grows up with the fascination to don the uniform and serve the country. Sparks fly when he comes across a schoolmate Isha and he's instantly smitten by her. While their romance blossoms, the youngster goes against the wishes of his father to join the army. Their parents come to terms with it while Isha is constantly worried about leading a lonely life, even when she marries Sandeep. Their lives take a drastic turn with the 26/11 Mumbai blasts - will the army man triumph against all odds and come out alive?

Review:

There's always a danger associated with magnum-opuses - one becomes so obsessed with an idea that they fail to look at it objectively or understand its feasibility. Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan's life story has been one such obsession for Adivi Sesh for a long time and his attachment to the subject shows. However, there are a few obvious yet 'major' roadblocks to bringing such a story alive - How is Sandeep's journey any different from other army men who sacrificed their lives for the country? What is so compelling about his personality that it merited a biopic? How can the film stand out as a cinematic experience? Had the makers been pragmatic enough, a colossal mess like Major wouldn't have been made.

Major works when its protagonist is that happy-go-lucky child from your neighbourhood; someone who had a fascination for Arnold Schwarzenegger, could watch Commando endlessly, came up with cheesy one-liners to woo his lady love and bunked school to watch DDLJ with her. What motivates an ordinary youngster like him to scale extraordinary heights? Here's when the inexperience in the writing shows. The film mistakes the character's male-saviour instinct as his desire to protect the society and justifies his decision to become a soldier. He instinctively protects his sister in childhood and stands up for his female neighbour in an abusive marriage - it's hard to buy such reasons, at least in a film format.

The emotional connect with Major goes for a toss when Sandeep becomes a soldier and rises through the ranks. His transformation is too sudden that you stop recognising him. Even his relationship with his lady love (later wife) Isha is shakily built - while she enters his life fully knowing what it means to be the better half of an army man, she blames him for his absence during her day-to-day struggles. The man gives her wings to fly and coast in her career, but she fails to look at what she has and is busy throwing tantrums (this comment is strictly based on her characterisation in the film and isn't intended as a personal remark on the real-life character).

The main problem with Major is the absence of a strong emotional core. Yet, the crisp treatment salvages it until the phase where the protagonist has to deal with the 26/11 blasts. Once Sandeep starts taking charge of the situation at Taj, Mumbai, the film starts falling apart like a pack of cards. Despite the extravagant set of the hotel and the slick action sequences, there's minimal tension or anxiety in the proceedings. If not for Sobhita Dhulipala's sincerity in portraying a vulnerable yet brave character that's stuck in the hotel during the attack, there's very little in the story to keep you glued to the screens.

While the dialoguebaazi was at least toned down in the initial portions, you are later forced to hear lines like 'Life is more important than 'live' telecast', 'Jaan Doonga Par Desh Nahin'. The character begins to take himself too seriously, uttering bombastic one-liners one after the other. The heroism of Sandeep is reduced to slow-motion closeups with an indulgent background score. The film goes back and forth between his personal life and the on-field action, but nothing intrigues you about his interpersonal relationships. That Sandeep took it upon himself to lead the NSG team during the blasts, even when his role as a training officer didn't demand it, is the sole emphasis here. 

There are occasional sparkles though - watch out for how he outsmarts the media and the terrorists with his ploy. Even when he's breathing his last and can barely move, Sandeep's heroism comes through while he tirelessly aims his gun at a terrorist and exhausts his bullets. The action choreography, on the whole, is top-notch but the writing is so dull and bland that you don't get to appreciate them as much as you would've wanted it to. Even with the real-life connect, Major leaves you unmoved. It has the scale and ambition though the writing doesn't let it soar to great heights.

Adivi Sesh wears a monotonous expression for the most part and though his physicality and body language are apt for Sandeep, the absence of a strong character graph undoes all the good he does. Saiee Manjrekar needs to find a way to lend more authenticity to her performances - her inner trauma as Isha never quite reaches you. Sobhita Dhulipala is the only actor who commands your attention with her screen presence, even if it is for a cameo. For veterans like Revathi, Murli Sharma and Prakash Raj, Major works more like a net-practice session and their mettle is barely tested. Beyond Sandeep Unnikrishnan, the writing doesn't offer ample scope for other characters to make an impact.

Sashi Kiran Tikka executed a taut plot like Goodachari with a lot of style in the past but here, even he can't go beyond the inadequacies in the writing. Vamsi Patchipulusu's cinematography is catchy on the eye and Sricharan Pakala's music passes muster. When someone of Mahesh Babu's stature backs a project like Major, it's important to make the opportunity count - alas, this misses the bus!

Verdict:

Major is an underwhelming, unaffecting film that doesn't rise above the conventions of a staple army man's biopic. While the film's action sequences are shot on a grand scale, the writing and the performances leave a lot to be desired.  

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