Satellite Shankar movie review: Sooraj Pancholi starrer is four films rolled into one
Director - Irfan Kamal”
Cast - Sooraj Pancholi, Megha Akash, Palomi Ghosh
Films banking on patriotism are aplenty in the Hindi film industry; with the last few years seeing a veritable influx. Satellite Shankar adds another name to that list and is a creditable attempt at bringing to life the struggles of our soldiers and their selfless acts of valour.
Directed by Irfan Kamal and with Sooraj Pancholi in the lead, Satellite Shankar has its heart in the right place. However, it is all in vain as a weak narrative lets it down, underplaying the film’s strengths. Through its 2 hours 20 minutes duration, the film tries to tap into your heart but bad execution doesn’t allow the events to register.
Watch the Satellite Shankar trailer here
Given the peculiar title, you’d expect a lot more to happen— maybe, a big reveal too — sadly the story doesn’t build on that premise. Irfan Kamal appears to have forgotten where he started from, conveniently shifting gears to what feels like an entirely different film that seems to be running parallel. Even the fun element Satellite Shankar introduces in the beginning -- soldiers sharing lighter moments and dancing their hearts out – are abandoned, never to be revisited again.
Without giving any spoilers, all I can say is that there’s a bit of Jab We Met, a bit of Chennai Express, and a bit of Forrest Gump rolled in there. And at various points, you’d find yourself comparing them.
Satellite Shankar is the journey of an Indian soldier, KPG Shankar (Sooraj Pancholi), who can temporarily teleport his fellow jawaans to their near and dear ones using a gadget that has something to do with Lord Shiva. He believes you only need to form connections in your heart and you can be anywhere and with anyone you want. That makes him the hero of his battalion. Okay then!
Moving on, Shankar is on a sick leave for eight days owing to an injury sustained during crossfire at the border. Instead of resting at the hospital, he wants to visit Pollachi in Tamil Nadu to see his mother before she undergoes an eye surgery. During the course of his journey from ‘Kashmir to Kanyakumari’, he encounters various roadblocks but how he soldiers on is what the film is all about.
Shankar meets a girl, Pramila (Megha Akash), who his mother wants him to marry, and a vlogger Meera (Palomi Ghosh) who plays a key role in rerouting Shankar’s journey. Given that Shankar has to report back at his army base in Srinagar, how he manages to complete all the duties along the way and still manages to make it back in time, is what that keeps you invested.
What you will like about the film is its feel-good factor. It keeps you smiling with the simplest and smallest of things like Shankar lifting an old woman in his arms so that she can catch a train or helping a young girl by sharing a cab as she is not okay traveling solo in cabs.
The director has infused the script with heavy emotions towards soldiers of the country, which may look over-dramatic and a bit impractical at times. The film shows that a soldier’s life is all about serving his nation and countrymen and he will put their interests first.
While we always talk about the strong sense of duty that soldiers have, Satellite Shankar tries to pay a tribute to them by showing how an entire nation comes together to ensure a jawaan keeps his Sainik Shapath. Be warned though, it may feel borderline jingoistic at times.
Pancholi, who has returned to the big screen after a gap of four years since his debut Hero, has put his best foot forward. It won’t be wrong to say that he has been given a proper heroic stature in this one. Carrying the film solely on his shoulders, there’s even a quirky song to introduce his character. Even though he needs to hone his skills -- especially work on his dialogue delivery, he is earnest and sincere as Shankar. There’s an innocence and calm about this character and he manages to please you with his screen presence.
Making her Bollywood debut is south actor Megha Akash who plays Shankar’s love interest. She is cute and quirky, and Pancholi and Akash make for a good onscreen couple with decent chemistry.
Palomi Ghosh has been given decent screentime but her character needed to be written in a better way. She is excited about the job she does and a bit screechy at times, but not to the extent that it irks you.
Don’t expect too much from the dialogues for there are no extraordinary punches that we saw in Uri: The Surgical Strike and a lot of other army films. While the writing isn’t that bad, it’s the narrative and execution that don’t let it move beyond clichés.
Music isn’t strength of the film but is thoughtfully used to break the monotony when the film gets too stretched. At this point, editing deserves a mention for it definitely needed a better hand. Length of two hours 20 mins is a bit too long for a simple plot such as this.
To sum up, Satellite Shankar is a pleasant watch that makes you pause and think if we are doing enough for our soldiers who put their lives at stake at the borders so that we can live safely. Did it sound preachy? Yes, but that aside, you wish it was only confined to the heroic tales of men in uniform.
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