On 18 September 2016 four terrorists attacked an army base near the town of Uri in the Baramulla district of Jammu and Kashmir. As many as 19 Indian Army soldiers were killed in the fedayeen attack. In response, the Indian Army conducted surgical strikes against suspected militants in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK). Aditya Dhar’s Uri: The Surgical Strike presents a dramatized account of the entire episode starting with the Uri terrorist attack and culminating with the retaliatory surgical strikes carried by the Indian Army. Uri is essentially a war drama that doesn’t back down from depicting no holds barred graphic violence seldom seen in mainstream Hindi cinema.

Aditya Dhar’s hard hitting war drama has all the right ingredients. There is tension, drama, thrill, and nonstop action. Also we have some solid performances on offer with Vicky Kaushal once again leading from the front. The film also has a bunch of memorable special appearances. Among them the performances by Rakesh Bedi and Rukhshar stand out. However, the film’s first half focused around the Uri attack is a predictable affair and fails to strike the right emotional chords. But the screenplay gets tighter in the second half as the film manages to end on a high thanks to a brilliantly choreographed climactic duel featuring jaw dropping hand-to-hand combat as well as air to air helicopter combat sequences.

Uri as a film plays to the gallery and how. The film is high on violence and celebrates raw masculinity. Owing to its high violence quotient, Uri isn’t ideal for family viewing. But, despite its lackluster first half and its several excesses, Uri succeeds in packing a punch. The film’s attention to detail is good. However, it does falter in terms of the facts with regards to the actual surgical strikes carried by the Indian Army. Also, it takes several liberties for dramatic purposes. A serious subject like Uri deserves a far more reliable film than what Aditya Dhar and team have managed to put together. But the film does deliver in terms of the high entertainment value that it promises. The influence of Meghna Gulzar’s Raazi deeply runs through the entire film. In fact, it is impossible to imagine Uri without the espionage tropes that were employed to great effect in Raazi. Also, there is a strong nod to the Emmy winning television series The Americans. It would be safe to say that films on Indian espionage are here to stay.

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