Uri: The Surgical Strike picks up the style and look of Hollywood combat films, like Zero Dark Thirty, adds a dash of Indian ‘family emotions’ patriotism, and some blatant propaganda that informs the audience that a New India is proudly aggressive; anyone who attacks India should expect quick and brutal retribution, supported by the current ruling party. This self-proclaimed tribute to the Indian army is a feel-good film in a different way. You see the sleek war rooms, high-tech gizmos and clever geeks, and get the feel that whoever messes with India had better watch out.
The actual military operation of the surgical strikes on terrorist camps on Pakistan occupied Kashmir, could not have taken so much running time and keep audiences interested, so there are ‘chapters’ before it. The film opens with an ambush on a military convoy by insurgents in Manipur. To avenge that, a small unit let by Major Vihaan Shergill (Vicky Kaushal) goes in and blows up an insurgent camp, without losing any soldiers.
At the celebratory dinner, Vihaan expresses the desire to retire to look after his ailing mother (Swaroop Sampat), but the Prime Minister (Rajit Kapur playing Modi) insists he take a desk job and arranges a nurse at his home. There are a few scenes of the happy Shergill family, and then in a surprise attack by Pakistani militants (they came in dressed in Indian army uniforms) on the military camp in Uri, Kashmir, where Vihaan’s brother-in-law (Mohit Raina) is killed, along with other soldiers, who were caught unprepared.
The PM and his security advisor Govind (Paresh Rawal obviously modelled on Ajit Doval) decide that enough is enough; India will have to assert her national pride and punish the perpetrators of the attack. The film picks pace and tension from the point the decision is taken to launch surgical strikes, till the mission is accomplished.
Govind, with an intelligence officer Pallavi (Yami Gautam) and a team of informers, spies and tech geeks, including a cheeky young drone operator (Akashdeep Arora), map out the hideouts of the terrorists, while Vihaan returns to active duty to plan and lead the attack. He gathers men from the units that lost their colleagues in the Uri killings, and gets their “josh” high to take revenge.
The outcome is known, so Dhar tries to whip up emotions through lines like (“You came into our home and killed our brothers, now we will enter your homes and kill you”), and funnily, a hand-to-hand fight in a mission that’s meant to be quick and stealthy. However, the combat sequences are very well shot, and even though this is not the kind of film where fine acting is needed, Vicky Kaushal turns up the sincerity full blast.