Heart-wrenching and numbing: Vicky Kaushal on recreating Jallianwala Bagh massacre in ‘Sardar Udham’

The film is based on the life of freedom fighter Udham Singh, played by Kaushal


Entertainment Desk October 16, 2021

In his most recent credit, Vicky Kaushal plays the role of Udham Singh, a freedom fighter who assassinated General Michael O’Dwyer, the Lieutenant Governor of Punjab in 1919 at the time of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar, in the film Sardar Udham. Speaking about the difficulty he faced when shooting scenes for the film, Kaushal explained to the Hindustan Times that recreating the Jallianwala massacre sequence took a massive toll on him.

He explained, “Of course, I was prepared as an actor ki mujhe ye karna hai, aise karna hai (This is what I need to do and this is how I will do it), but it was still, so heart-wrenching and numbing as an individual. To be thrown into that reality, almost a reality, to imagine yourself in that space. I had to react to dead bodies and all that bloodshed and bloodbath.”

On how it was difficult for the actor to recreate the massacre day in and day out, he shared, “To then finish it, pack up and go back to the hotel room. Then, again come back (to the sets) the next day, do it all again. All that was physically exhausting and emotionally numbing.”

When asked how he managed to complete filming without breaking down, he said, “By not thinking too much and just reacting to the atmosphere. I was just trying to be honest at that moment. I had to find my inner child, the 19-year-old in me and then respond to the situation.”

On how freedom fighters are placed on an unreachable pedestal, he shared, “In our stories, freedom fighters are painted like supermen. We paint them as martyrs and shut them in books. [Director Shoojit Sircar] wanted him to be alive and among us. He believed Sardar Udham was a revolutionary, not because he picked a gun and shot someone, but because of his thoughts. People should feel that Udham was one of us. Probably, I have a Sardar Udham in me.”

On opting for a digital release, Kaushal explained that he believes a film like Sardar Udham should have a greater reach, which digital allows. “We need to know the history of the sacrifice done by these heroes. If you see the West, they keep making films on atrocities by the Nazis and the camps, they keep reminding the world of the horrific incidents in the past, so we as human beings do not end up making those mistakes again. It was very important for the film to have that kind of reach, which we are getting through Amazon Prime Video.”

 

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