Digital Review: ‘Avrodh – The Siege Within’ (SonyLIV)

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When the trailer of ‘Avrodh: The Siege Within’ released, it was evident from the start that the show would be a gritty account of the Uri surgical strikes of 2016. However, this looked and felt very different to the Vicky Kaushal starrer ‘Uri: The Surgical Strike’ (2019), which was about the same mission. As this is a web-series in an episode format, the surrounding story becomes that much more important and it is done very well by Raj Acharya, the director, as the trailer seems to portray. However, does it deliver the edge-of-the-seat feel that is promised?

Acharya, in this adaptation, keeps things far from the version that Aditya Dhar directed and this instantly makes the viewers feel like they’re watching a completely different perspective with a fresh interpretation. Writers Harmanjit Singha, Sudeep Nigam, Abhishek Chaterjee and Aadhar Khurana deserve credit for this version.

The ensemble cast is a coup somewhat with some very well-known actors coming together who are experts in their craft – including Madhurima Tuli, Neeraj Kabi, Anant Mahadevan, Darshan Kumaar and Amit Sadh. Tuli plays the role of a journalist very well, and provides a little glamour the otherwise action-packed and male-dominated series. She performs well in this character and pushes the boundaries many times as Namrata, which eventually ends up working in her favour. Kabi always brings a certain authenticity to the characters he plays and in his role, it’s no different. His stand in favour of the Indian army personnel carrying out the mission against Pakistan in their territory is risky and carries many obstacles but he is adamant that it’s the right thing and he backs those service personnel to the end. It’s a commendable performance to say the least. Kumaar’s character as a soldier sees him losing a friend and colleague, played by Pavail Gulati (of ‘Thappad’ fame), in an encounter. Kumaar’s performance is also praiseworthy and ensures he remains sensitive and measured due to his family circumstances, his grief and the sense of duty he feels towards his country. Gulati is a joy to see after ‘Thappad’ in this rather short role which leaves a decent impact. Vikram Gokhale plays the Indian Prime Minister and matches the stature that one would rightfully associate with the character. Sadh is brought in as a Special Forces officer who leads the ultimate mission. His performance as Major Videep is very different to the characters he’s played previously. He brings a stillness and a quiet confidence to his leadership on the mission and Sadh’s step into these shoes shows not only his versatility but also shines a light on the fact that he is the star of the show without the need to be loud about it.

Overall, Acharya absolutely delivers with this show but it’s really the casting which is the real hero here. These actors come together and, quite simply, create magic in their respective roles. There’s no better compliment one can give than actors you forget are acting and that’s what this series is about. In tribute to all those who fought in this battle in real and those who have reenacted it in this series, it’s important to remember that these are real-life instances and they do feel very real within the series. The only setbacks of the entire show are that the drumroll of a build-up lasts a number of episodes and it seems to take quite long getting to the point of the story – which could work against it in some viewer’s perspectives. However, for those who find themselves engaged, it perfectly provides all that’s needed to keep you hooked and ready to see how it all plays out. The second drawback is that Major Videep’s bringing together a group of trustworthy and able men to be a part of the mission seems to feel a little rushed. You don’t get to feel the characters, their strengths or how they will strengthen as a collective. This missing link sometimes disengages the viewer.

Watch this series for the stellar performances and the freshness. Hopefully it should see you through to mission completion in episode nine.

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