21 April 2008 | Chrysanthepop
Tagline says that it takes courage to make right right but how much right has 'Shaurya' done?
The inspiration is obvious as the outline of the story in 'Shaurya' is largely taken from Rob Reiner's 'A Few Good Men'. Of course some scenes might trigger memories of other military thrillers like the entertaining but predictable Morgan Freeman- Ashley Judd starred 'High Crimes' or even the awful 'Rules of Engagement' (thankfully this film isn't as bad). Yet, there are many differences that make 'Shaurya' in some way its own movie. However, the makers could have at least acknowledged their source of inspiration just to avoid the accusation of plagiarism.
The themes handled in 'Shaurya' are very different from that of 'A Few Good Men'. The characters too are dissimilar, although during the courtroom sequences Javed Jaffrey reminds us of Kevin Bacon. The courtroom scenes lift off the original source but most of the rest is something else. Critics have praised 'Shaurya' for being a brave film and in spite of being an inspiration, it 'Indianizes' the film very well. But, does that excuse the film for plagiarizing? The intention isn't to mislead people into thinking this is a complete scene-by-scene copy of 'A Few Good Men' (it isn't) but the resemblance is very noticeable.
Khan and Malhotra's writing is somewhat good in that they create different characters that are well-developed and they tell an interesting story (in spite of the flaws mentioned). However the movie drags during the entire first half. It picks up rapidly in the second half once Bose's Siddhant gets serious about the case and this only somewhat makes up for the lethargic first hour.
Most of the performances are noteworthy. Rahul Bose really gives a too laidback performance in the beginning. It gets a little annoying until in the second half his portrayal of his character's transformation reflect his maturity as an actor. Minisha Lamba is very good, as she shares a warm chemistry with Bose and adds charm and determination to her character. But, what's with the excessive makeup? Deepak Dobiyal downplays his part well in most parts. However, in a few scenes it almost borders on wooden. In briefer roles, Seema Biswas is superb and Amrita Rao impresses. Javed Jaffrey is alright. Finally, it is Kay Kay Menon who steals the show in his special appearance. Though his character reminds one of Jack Nicholson in 'A Few Good Men', the actor completely makes the part his own and stands out.
Some of the songs are nice and pleasant to the ears but a few of them really slow down the pace. Also, some of the themes were presented in a clichéd way, like suspecting Javed Khan of being a terrorist because he's a Muslim. Come on people, there could be other motivations behind his alleged killing rather than him being part of a Jihad group. After all, isn't the military supposed to thoroughly research people's background, especially that of an accused? Such clichés should have been avoided.
On the whole, 'Shaurya' isn't exactly a bad film but I would have appreciated it much more had it credited the original source and avoided religious clichés. Also tighter editing especially in the first half could have made it more engaging. Nonetheless, it's one of the very few watchable films among Indian cinema this year and it brilliantly ends with Shahrukh Khan's powerful recital of a haunting poem.