New Delhi: A fearless soldier, a pragmatic officer, a valiant leader and a fierce strategist, the legend of India’s Field Marshall Sam ‘Bahadur’ comes to screens. Meghna Gulzar’s Sam Bahadur celebrates the life and time of India’s iconic general, Field Marshall Sam “Bahadur Maneckshaw, the chief architect of India’s victory in the 1971 Indo-Pak war, whose unflagging spirit continues to be honoured and revered by the Indian Armed Forces.
The trailer was befittingly unveiled at the Maneckshaw Centre Auditorium in the presence of the Chief Of The Army Staff General Manoj Pande. Headlining the titular character is Vicky Kaushal, who has a knack for breathing life into his characters. Calling it one of the toughest roles of his career, the actor said “ When Meghana told me she was working on Sam Maneckshaw’s life I had heard about him, but didn’t know what he looked like. When I saw him, I thought no way I ever get the role since he was such a handsome man. I am grateful a flawed person like me got the opportunity to lead this exceptional life on screen.”
Filmmaker Meghana Gulzar called it an opportunity of a lifetime and her privilege to be able to tell the story and a life-altering experience. “He is the timeless model for generations and generations to come,” she says.
The director further divulged that her Raazi actor Vicky Kaushal was her first choice and they went through several look tests. The film charts four decades of Sam Maneckshaw’s illustrious career in the Indian Army from a Second Lt to Chief of Army Staff in 1971. He retired from active service in 1973 and was the only Indian to be decorated with the title of Field Marshal. The emotionally moving trailer showcases how the young officer who prided his uniform and service to the nation, was fearless even if it meant speaking his mind to the heads of state.
Vicky Kaushal’s Sam Bahadur also reminds one of his turn as Major Vihan Shergil in Uri, who leads a covert operation against militants in Uri. As he energetically motivated his soldiers with “How the Josh” one cannot help but think that this was indeed a legacy brought forth by Sam Maneckshaw. As we see the many facets of Sam Bahadur in the trailer, on one hand, he is a dynamic officer instilling hope and encouragement in his soldiers. On the other, he puts the then PM Indira Gandhi( Fatima Sana Sheikh) in her place when she says a soldier’s job is to die in battle, his taut reply is a soldier’s job is to eliminate the enemy.
When he tells the PM that it’s best she let him do his job and focus on what she has been trained for, you cannot help but admire his fortitude.
Vicky Kaushal does not disappoint either. From the handlebar moustache, the physical aspects of the way the General stood, and the slight droop of the shoulder in his later years apart, what stands out is the way he has emoted through his eyes. The fire of a man determined to succeed and protect his own comes through.
Fiercely protective towards his soldiers, Vicky Kaushal says it was the compassion of Sam Maneckshaw that stayed with him. “ He had never punished a soldier in his four decades. Being in the position he was he was marvellously empathetic”
The actor further says apart from the physicality what was important for him was to get the indomitable spirit of Sam Maneckshaw across.
“The moment Meghna told me they don’t make men like him anymore. I was like I have to explore this. I have a folder on my phone titled Sam which has every possible image of the General, and I worked hard on getting the nuances of his personality right. So much so that when we wrapped the film it took me a while to get out of character, I was continuing to walk like him. I felt a vacuum”.
Meghana Gulzar reveals it was endless research, and the support from the Indian Army and Sam Maneckshaw’s family helped her through the many facets and aspects of the man and his times.
With Sam Bahadur releasing on Dec 1st, followed by Dunki on Dec 23rd, Vicky calls the film set his paradise and says, “I hope it is my month, I hope every month is mine. Am working hard on making every month and every year mine”.
The movie also stars Sanya Malhotra as Siloo Maneckshaw.
Sam Bahadur releases on Dec 1st and will take on Ranbir Kapoor’s Animal at the theatres.