A touching tribute to Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan and his family

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Story: “What is a soldier? is a question Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan has had to grapple with ever since he joined the Indian Army. It’s a question he asks himself even as he fights terrorists in Mumbai on the fateful day of 26/11.

Exam: You know how the saying goes, that funerals are for the living and not for the dead? If you thought Sashi Kiran Tikka is Major was just a tribute to the martyr of 11/26, you are wrong. This film is a tribute to the sacrifices a lonely wife had to make each time her husband left to fight bad guys, sacrifices parents have to make while praying that their son won’t be called to war. This film is for those whose sacrifices are rarely recognized while they are most often in mourning.

Sandeep Unnikrishnan (Adivi Sesh) has a protective instinct embedded in his DNA. He feels fear but he doesn’t think twice before putting himself in danger if it means saving someone’s life. It’s no wonder that even as a little boy he was fascinated by the “uniform” and the way of life of a soldier. But what does it mean to be a soldier? Does it mean giving up on being a good husband and son, does it mean putting yourself first on the battlefield, or going to the extremes of being a sacrificial lamb without self-preservation? Even as he faces these questions, tragedy strikes the nation and Sandeep, now a major in the NSG, must do his part.

Go in Major, you already know how the 26/11 terrorist attack in Mumbai will unfold; you also know that Sandeep will end up a martyr. So how do you tell a story where the audience already knows the major rhythms? Although one can choose and think of various other ways, director Sashi Kiran Tikka and Adivi Sesh, who wrote the story and script, decide to focus on Sandeep the human as a whole rather than Sandeep the martyr. When the inevitable happens, you mourn not just a soldier who sacrificed his life for the country, but a life he could have lived. To reveal anything more about this coming-of-age story would be an injustice.

Helping Adivi Sesh, Saiee Manjrekar (who plays his childhood sweetheart Isha) and Shobitha Dhulipala (who plays a businesswoman called Pramoda) form a strong technical team. Saiee gets a character with heart, a character that is fully fleshed out instead of existing for fun. Shobhitha’s Pramoda is as detailed as possible; given the circumstances in which it is introduced. Abburi Ravi’s dialogue and Sricharan Pakala’s music blatantly play on your emotions, but for the most part they do it well. In fact, it’s one of their best works. Vamsi Patchipulusu’s cinematography ranges from dreamy to suffocating, depending on the scene unfolding as Vinay Kumar Sirigineedi and Kodati Pavan Kalyan make smart editing choices that stand out in key scenes. Naba’s action sequences also stand out.

However, the film is not without flaws. Abburi Ravi’s dialogue and Sricharan’s music get a little too heavy in certain scenes, forcing you to feel a certain way before you even feel it organically. Sandeep and Isha’s cute encounter doesn’t have the intended effect even though their storyline grows stronger as the film progresses. Some leads regarding Sandeep’s army mates seem incomplete. There are a few other things one could choose as well, but the way the movie is crafted with a non-linear storyline doesn’t really leave you much to think about.

Adivi Sesh gets the role of his life and he grabs it with both hands. He does a good job playing both a smooth-faced teenager who might seem naïve to a man who knows what he wants out of life and is willing to fight for it, even if circumstances don’t always allow it. . Saiee fits the role as far as her age goes, but she comes across as raw and inexperienced in the emotional scenes. Shobitha comes through in her role, as do Murli Sharma and Anish Kuruvilla. Prakash Raj and Revathi, who play Sandeep’s parents, give their all for the role. Everything from how they love their son to mourning him comes across as heartbreaking realism.

Major could be an action drama for the most part where guns and bombs become the norm after a while of running time, but the film does a good job of opting for a personal tone instead of a jingoistic one, while the latter could have been easier. This one deserves to be watched on the big screen, you won’t regret it.

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