With over 20 million views in 24 hours since its release, the trailer of Akshay Kumar’s ‘Kesari’ has piqued interest about the historic Battle of Saragarhi of 1897.
The September 12, 1897 battle, which took place in the North-West Frontier Province (now Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan), is still remembered distinctly because 21 Sikh men of the 36th Sikh Regiment (now the 4th Battalion of the Sikh Regiment) of British India, defended an army post against more than 10,000 Afghan and Orakzai tribesmen.
The British government had conferred on the martyred soldiers its highest battle honour — ‘Indian Order of Merit Grade II’.
The story of valour and patriotism has now found takers in the world of showbiz.
‘Kesari’, which releases in India on March 21, is preceded by ‘21 Sarfarosh: Saragarhi 1897’, a series from Abhimanyu Singh’s Contiloe Pictures, which specialises in historical dramas.
The show, streaming on Netflix, has 65 episodes and stars Mohit Raina and Mukul Dev in principal roles.
“‘Battle of Saragarhi’ is considered as one of the bravest days in Indian history. It was a pleasure telling a story of such importance and creating something at this scale,” Singh had said earlier.
As for ‘Kesari’, directed by Anurag Singh, it takes the gripping story to an epic scale with Kumar playing Ishar Singh, complete with a turban and beard.
“It is a story being told at an epic level. The canvas is huge,” said film and trade expert Girish Johar.
“It has a possibility of being the highest box office earner for Akshay Kumar. Also, Akshay Kumar will be seen in an intense, aggressive avatar, fighting, and moreover, fighting for the country.”
Plus, the film has the advantage of releasing on the Holi (Hindu festival of colours) weekend.
Two other Hindi films on the Battle of Saragarhi were in the pipeline, but they have been shelved.
Ajay Devgn was making ‘Son Of Sardaar: The Battle of Saragarhi’, a project he had announced in 2016, and there was another movie by Rajkumar Santoshi, ‘Battle Of Saragarhi’, starring Randeep Hooda.