“How many more men do I have to lose?”, asks a superior, and Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan gestures, ‘one’. Major is about this one person who loses his life while saving many.
Major, directed by Sashi Kiran Tikka, is based on the life of Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, who was martyred during the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in 2008. The film is a tribute to him, but it’s a lot more than that.
'Major' doesn’t just talk about the valour and sacrifice the Major makes, but also recognises the sacrifices his wife and parents have to make while he is out protecting the country.
The film not only honours Major Unnikrishnan, the martyr, but also focuses on Sandeep– the person. It’s a film that will leave a lasting, heart wrenching impression on you.
Unnikrishnan, played by Adivi Sesh, is fascinated with the ‘uniform.’ The glimmer in his eyes is evident and his yearning to save people, without thinking of the consequences, has been established right in the beginning.
Adivi essays the role of a Major almost effortlessly– be it an action or emotional scene, Adivi makes you believe.
Playing Adivi’s childhood sweetheart and wife is Saiee Manjrekar (filmmaker Mahesh Manjrekar’s daughter) – a well-sketched and strong character that she plays with minimal flaws as her inexperience reflects in the acting.
Prakash Raj and Revathi play Sandeep’s parents and, as always, bring the characters to life with every dialogue. As grieving parents, the duo has given a performance that will make you cry with them as they mourn the loss of their son. Prakash Raj’s speech in the films will win hearts and drive you to tears.
Sobhita Dhulipala plays a businesswoman, Pramoda, who checks into the Taj on the day of the attack. Her character, though introduced later, is an important one and carries the mantle effortlessly.
The first half of the film is about Major Unnikrishnan the person – the son, his dreams, his friends and his love, both for the uniform and Isha. It’s the second half of the film that explores Unnikrishnan’s life further as the Major of the National Security Guard (NSG). As Unnikrishnan finds himself struggling to be present as a husband and asks for a leave, he is unfortunately called in the same day as tragedy hits the city.
As a trainer of the NSG, Major Unnikrishnan is not supposed to be a part of the rescue mission facing the terrorists– but he challenges that decision and joins the team.
We all know how the 26/11 attacks played out, but director Sashi Kiran Tikka and writer Adivi Sesh have told the story, of course taking cinematic liberties, with comfort. The screenplay and direction work for the film. This 2 hours 10 minutes action-drama is not preachy, and the film does not lead with a patriotic tone.
The action sequences in this film are directed and choreographed beautifully by Naba and Sunil Rodrigues and do justice to the film.
The cinematography by Patchipulusu Vamsi will leave you in awe. The most heart-wrenching shot in the film is towards the end, when Unnikrishnan saves the lives of hundreds and is there by himself, doing what he knows best – protecting.
The background score feels unnecessary in most parts. it’s loud and used in places just for the sake of it. Silence can be a more powerful tool and wish they had used it more in the film.
As someone who has covered the 26/11 attacks, like many other journalists, I felt uneasy and found myself choking up the minute Major Unnikrishnan got off the bus and stood in front of Taj.
It’s a film that will stay with me, make me think of not just of Major Unnikrishnan, his family and many others who lost their lives but also about all the other men in uniform who continue to serve and protect, and their families.
“What is a soldier?”, Unnikrishnan is asked by his superior while training. It’s a question he asks himself even as he braves terrorists in Mumbai on 26/11. Watch this one as he answers the question for you.