When Sidharth Malhotra first came to learn about the intricate details of Captain Vikram Batra’s life through the war hero’s twin brother Vishal Batra, he instantly knew that 'Shershaah' was a story that simply must be told to audiences around the world.
It was five years ago that the Bollywood actor was first approached by Vishal with a view to playing his brother Captain Vikram Batra, the late national hero who sacrificed his life for his country during the fiercely contested Kargil War between India and Pakistan in 1999. Though at the time Sidharth and Vishal were unable to finalise the details with a production team for the biopic on Captain Vikram, it was Sidharth’s persistence and dedication to have the story told which resulted in 'Shershaah' coming to fruition five years on, when Dharma Productions jumped at the opportunity to kickstart proceedings.
“I was instantly gripped by Vishal’s account of his brother. I knew of Captain Vikram but only from afar as a teenager growing up during the war. It’s only when you listen to the true courage and strength of the man that you feel an instant connection and dedication to sharing his story with everyone that you meet – because every Indian should take pride in his heroism and patriotism. I told Vishal that we would not stop in our endeavours to have Captain Vikram’s, and the rest of the Indian army’s Kargil War story told. Five years on, I approached Dharma Productions and they were immediately on board and we are so pleased with the end product”, said Sidharth.
However preparations for a role of this nature were somewhat new to Sidharth, with the physical demands of Captain Vikram’s character a far cry from his previous starring roles. Filming for 'Shershaah' maintained a high-level of authenticity throughout, meaning the characters had to quite literally learn the basic training of an armed soldier fighting at the challenging altitudes poised by the Kargil territory: “When you sit and meet the family and friends of a man like Vikram, you realise the importance of telling his story with the upmost sincerity and authenticity as physically possible. To do otherwise would be an injustice. But in doing so, you realise just how challenging the Kargil War was from the perspective of terrain and altitude!”, explained Sidharth.
“We were the first to shoot a film in Kargil, about the Kargil War. It was common for the cast to lose their breath at such high altitude and we did intense drills, practiced etiquette, body postures, body language and weaponry training in order to really get into the character’s persona. We wanted audiences to feel as though they were genuinely looking back on the events of the famous war which saw India triumph against all odds.
“If we fell on the road, which myself and my co-star Shiv Panditt did, we risked infections with open wounds which would take over a week to heal. Given the schedule of the film, we simply didn’t have time to allow the cuts, bruises, aches and pains to heal – but honestly, when you are there in Kargil you feel as though the strength of the army is there in spirit, driving you on. You don’t want to stop… you know they didn’t have that option”, he added.
Directed by Vishnu Varadhan, 'Shershaah' is inspired by the life of Captain Vikram Batra (PVC) and stars Sidharth Malhotra and Kiara Advani in the lead along with Shiv Panditt, Raj Arjun, Pranay Pachauri, Himanshu Ashok Malhotra, Nikitin Dheer, Anil Charanjeett, Sahil Vaid, Shataf Figar, and Pawan Chopra in pivotal roles. Jointly produced by Dharma Productions and Kaash Entertainment, 'Shershaah' will premiere across 240 countries and territories on 12th August 2021 exclusively on Amazon Prime Video.
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