Sam Bahadur review: Meghna Gulzar’s biopic on Sam HFJ Manekshaw ‘is ok’

Actor Vicky Kaushal yet again proves why he is excellent when it comes to portraying an army man. He simply nails it as Sam Bahadur.

ByShashiprasad S M

Published:Dec 01, 2023

Vicky Kaushal in Sam Bahadur
A good effort!

Sam Bahadur (Hindi)

  • Cast: Vicky Kaushal, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Sanya Malhotra, and Shantanu Srivastava
  • Director: Meghna Gulzar
  • Producer: Ronnie Screwvala
  • Music: Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy
  • Runtime: 2 hours 30 minutes

Making a biopic film is never an easy task, particularly when the film is based on the life of one of the most decorated officers in the Indian Army who went on to become the Field Marshal of the Indian Army.

Mind you, there have been only two Field Marshals in India so far; one was Sam HFJ Manekshaw, based on whom this film is made, and the other was KM Cariappa.

Well, presenting four decades of military career and five wars, including World War II, in 2 hours and 30 minutes is a challenge.

Now, let’s see how good filmmaker Meghna Gulzar has delivered Sam Bahadur’s life on the screen.


Team Sam Bahadur

Team ‘Sam Bahadur’. (Supplied)

The director showcases some of the highlights of Sam Manekshaw’s professional life — from his early days in the military to getting promoted to the five-star rank as Field Marshal.

Right from his miraculous survival, even after getting hit by nine bullets while on service in Burma during World War II, to facing a court of enquiry to the victorious 1971 India-Pakistan war and a bit more is the focal point of this biopic.

In between, we can see the funnier side of Sam Bahadur, the chemistry with his wife Silloo and the professional relationship he shared with India’s only female prime minister Indira Gandhi.

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Vicky Kaushal nails it

Meghna Gulzar diectorial Sam Bahadur

Meghna Gulzar’s diectorial ‘Sam Bahadur’. (Supplied)

For any biopic, how well the person on which the film is based is portrayed on the screen matters more than anything.

Vicky Kaushal nails it to perfection. Apart from his excellence in playing a military man, which he has proved in his past few movies, his understanding of Sam Bahadur and his mannerisms make this an award-winning performance.

Only those who knew Sam Bahadur in person can approve of how well Vicky has enacted Sam in the movie. As far as the audience is concerned, Vicky brings the character to life. He even manages to be funny.

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What works and what doesn’t

While almost everything about Sam Bahadur is well documented and is available in the public domain, there is hardly anything new or exciting to experience.

The fact that he was initially named Cyrus by his parents and later changed his name to Sam Manekshaw due to a strange reason — a thief caught in their neighbourhood was also named Cyrus — surprises the audience.

A few over-dramatic scenes spoil the fun and give a documentary feeling when it is going flat. However, a few moments raise the morale of watching the life of a great military man. The conversations between Smt Indira Gandhi and Sam are one of them.

A few other mentions are when he interacts with his soldiers and shows mutual respect and admiration towards his men.

The funnier side of Sam Bahadur is written well and even depicted to good effect.

The biggest letdown is the music. It fails to add that extra zing needed to elevate the mood when things go flat.

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Watch this biopic to learn more about Sam Bahadur, his achievements, and his service to the nation.

Sam Bahadur’s last words were: “I am ok.” So is this movie!

(Views expressed here are personal.)