'Kurukshetra' is intended as a hard hitting movie, with a very few stories of heroism to balance the anti - war message hammered relentlessly through out. Planned as a fitting tribute to the lost souls who died in the combat recapturing the lost Indian land around LOC in Kargil, the movies emphasizes more on the irrelevance of war and the hypocrisy's behind these unwarranted ones.
The bulk of the movie is concerned with Colonal Mahadevan's (Mohanlal) Battalion's strategic operandi that led to the recapture of the hilly Kargil terrain. Though a portion of the movie is used to explore the feelings, fears and hopes of the soldiers involved, thereby recreating the manoeuvres and comment on the futility of war. Granted, I would liked to have had an explanation about how the war got started and the gruesome details on what really got everyone to the point of arms, and how the Indians strategically retorted, but it wasn't necessarily told in the film.
All movies about war tend to emphasize both the horror of war and the honor exhibited by certain participants. Also is 'Kurukshetra' which ends up as another "hero centric" movie woven around the deeds and activities of the protagonist colonel Mahadevan, who is valiantly piloting his troops at Kargil, The movie in its opening reels tries to introduce various characters and their hopes of joining their family and how they love their homeland. And in another half an hour arrive the colonel who is in charge to carry on the entire recapturing act.And thereafter the movie moves forward in an engaging pace, but through the eyes of protogonist.
Those who had followed the news closely will find little new here. What makes 'Kurukshrtra' stand out is its overwhelming concentration of information and its absence at times, thus allowing its director Major Ravi to make his drawn out points at some length, developing it from a nipping soundbite into a full-jawed mauling. There are a lot of references into the real incidents like missing goat stories, 'Dutt's '' Journo'' act reporting from Bunkers, to the infamous''coffin scandal''. Unfortunately, a wannabe exciting and thoughtful movie is spoiled by too much verbose meandering at times... Major Ravi seems to have identitfied the use of original lanugases as one prime reason of the downfall of his previous'' 'Mission90 Days''at the B O, and here we have every soldier speaking Malayalam in the hilly terians. It all makes for some seriously pointless viewing, at times with this ''Kerala'' battalion speaking Malayalam all the way, taking the lead in one battle sequences which merges into the next, with precious little in-between to give us a serious watch.
Though plot-wise, it's a turgid old war tale, told by the side that won lamenting about the need of such a war. But Major Ravi needs to be applauded for attempting such a strenuous project that he had completed in a surprisingly short span of 35 days. Hat's off major, for proving your brilliance in planning and execution of such a big project, which many of the other front line South Indian directors may resist from doing.
In the script side, Major Ravi spends some time developing his characters, but then gives them very little of interest to actually do. Some great support acting from various leads are competently put-together to present the shades of some of the cliche's - but they're still cliche's- that we had seen in many war movies before, including 'Keerthychakra'. The movie also showcases definite intentions to cash in the patriotic fervour, all along.
'Kurukshetra' wouldn't be in its present league, if it hadn't been Mohanlal on the helm of activity as colonel Mahadevan. His restraint but authentic performance is what holds, an otherwise disjointed product. He convincingly portrays the many shades of his character without making it overtly patriotic.
Though not in par with Major Ravi's earlier two movies,'Kurukshetra' is also technically a better film that drags the viewer right into the eye of the storm and the heart of the action. Major Ravi with his new found ally in camera, Lokanathan (his former two films was with Thiru) has efficiently captured the war sequences. But Lokanathan, as he does with his soft natured flicks, seems to have focused more on his framing with blue skies all along, with the sunny disposition, balancing off the grim nature of the battle-lines than the real activity beneath. The film edited by Jayashankar also moves at a great pace, but maybe a little "too fast", with the editing between scenes feeling rushed at times with uninteresting, regular fade outs.. The movie has some real good use of the background musical score by Achu, which accentuate the related moods.
The music for the four songs by Sidhharth Bipin is average, though a couple of songs are hummable. Overall, I have to admit that this film entertained me for its well-timed two hours, presenting various interesting points of view, a handful of funny moments and even more, really dramatic emotional ones. Overall, it is a film that can't make up its mind whether it wants to be a politically-minded anti-war "message movie", or a thrilling war epic - with the result that it gets a little of neither part, right. Anyway, definitely recommended for a different watch, at least once.