Sam Bahadur Movie Out: 10 Stories From Field Marshal Manekshaw’s Life

Sam Manekshaw wanted to be a doctor. Instead got through Indian Military Academy. And went on to create history...

3 min read

(This article was first published on 23 October 2023. It is being broughtback form The Quint's archives following the release of 'Sam Bahadur' movie.)

The Vicky Kaushal starrer Sam Bahadur, directed by Meghna Gulzar is now out now. The film is a biopic on the life of India's first Field Marshall Sam Manekshaw, also fondly called 'Sam Bahadur'.

Manekshaw masterminded India's victory in the 1971 Indo-Pak War, leading to the Liberation of Bangladesh. Here are 10 interesting stories from the life of India's military hero.

1. When He Wanted To Become a Doctor

Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw wanted to be a doctor, like his father. But when his father refused to send him to London, all by himself, at a young age, an angry Sam took the exam for the Indian Military Academy, and got through... The rest, as they say, is history!


2. When Three Future Army Chiefs Studied Together

In 1932, Manekshaw was in the first batch of the Indian Military Academy. The batch was called 'The Pioneers'. Manekshaw, who went on to become India's 8th Army Chief, studied with Smith Dun – Army Chief of Burma (1948-49), and Muhammad Musa – Army Chief of Pakistan (1958-66).

3. When He Followed His Father’s Footsteps

In four decades, Sam ‘Bahadur’ fought four wars –

  1. World War II (1942-45)

  2. Sino-Indian War (1962)

  3. Indo-Pak War (1965) 

  4. Bangladesh Liberation War (1971)

He fought in World War II as part of the British Indian Army. His father, Hormusji Manekshaw had also served in the British Indian Army during World War I, as a Captain in the Indian Medical Services.


4. When He Joked in a Near-Death Situation

During World War II, fighting in Burma, Manekshaw was severely wounded by a burst of light machine gun fire. An Australian surgeon, who seeing his condition, reportedly almost gave up on him, asked him what had happened to him. He famously told his surgeon,

"Nothing happened.  I was kicked by a donkey!"

The surgeon went on to remove 7 bullets from Sam’s lungs, liver, and kidneys.

5. When He Said He Could Win Wars for Pakistan

Born to a Parsi family in Punjab's Amritsar, in April 1914. Sam's parents who were reportedly on their way to Lahore, had decided to stay back in India by sheer stroke of luck.

Years later, when he was once asked what would have happened if his family had moved to Pakistan during Partition...he said,

"Then Pakistan would have won all the wars."

6. When He Was Confident of India’s Preparedness in 1971

Manekshaw was the first Indian Army officer to become a Field Marshal. He had a good rapport with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, as her husband Feroze Gandhi was also a Parsi, like Sam. He would often refer to Indira as 'Sweetie' or 'Sweetheart'.

On the eve of the 1971 war, when Mrs Gandhi asked him if he was ready, out came another famous line,

"I'm always ready, Sweetie."

7. When He Made Pak President Pay in 1971, for a Deal in 1947

Manekshaw and General Yahya Khan, Pakistan’s President in 1971, served in the British Indian Army before the partition of 1947.

After Partition, Yahya bought Manekshaw’s red motorcycle, promising to send him Rs 1000, the price of the motorcycle from Pakistan.  

But turns out, Yahya never paid... So after India’s 1971 victory, Manekshaw said,

"Yahya never paid me Rs 1000 for my motorbike, but now he has paid with half his country."

8. When He Mocked Politicians

Manekshaw was never in awe of India’s politicians. He once said,

"I wonder whether those of our political  masters… in charge of the defence of the country, can distinguish a mortar from a motor; a gun from a howitzer; a guerrilla from a gorilla..."

9. When He Got His Name Same ‘Bahadur'

Modern India's greatest general was a proud member of the Gorkha Regiment. And was always praises for the Gorkha soldiers. 

Another Manekshaw saying,

"If a soldier says he is not afraid of death, he is either lying or he is a Gorkha."

He once asked a Gorkha soldier, "Mero naam ke ho? (What’s my name?)" soldier replied, "Sam Bahadur, saab."

10. When He Said He Was Okay, Even When...

When Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw succumbed to pneumonia in June 2008, at 94, his last words were,

I am okay...

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Read Latest News and Breaking News at The Quint, browse for more from videos

Topics:  Sam Manekshaw   Vicky Kaushal   Sam Bahadur 

Speaking truth to power requires allies like you.
Become a Member
3 months
12 months
12 months
Check Member Benefits
Read More