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Verses Of War review: Vivek Oberoi and Rohit Roy's short is bedevilled by an abject lack of subtlety

Release Date: 26 Jan 2022

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Suyog Zore

The film tries to underline the futility of the war, which forces decent men to become each other's enemies.

Vivek Oberoi and Rohit Roy's short film Verses Of War has an interesting premise, underlining how two soldiers on opposing sides, who share a love for poetry among other things, probably would have been the best of friends in other circumstances.

Major Sunil Bhatia (Oberoi) and his troop are ambushed by Pakistani forces and the army man is taken to a secret location where he is interrogated by Captain Nawaz (Roy). As the grilling proceeds, things slowly start to unfold in unexpected ways. From blaming each other's armies for infiltrating each other's regions, the two slowly form a unique bond after finding out about their common love for poetry and shayari.

Written by Kapil Mishra and directed by Prasad Kadam, this 32-minute film tries to expose the futility of the war while also attempting to highlight the bravery of our army officers and glorify India's achievements on the battlefield. But the writer has failed to reconcile these contradictory messages. It seems like he was unsure about whether he should propagate pacifism or celebrate the nation's military prowess.

In one scene, Major Bhatia claims that we Indians have progressed so much in the past few years that we don't even have time for silly politics with Pakistan and that our neighbour's entire identity, including its politics, foreign policy and elections, is dependent on animosity against India. This statement would have made a lot more sense a decade ago but if our national media and the utterances of our leaders are anything to go by, this is far from the truth.

There are some parts that seem too theatrical, particularly midway. The film treats Major Bhatia as some kind of superhero, which makes it difficult for anyone to connect with him emotionally. Yes, he is brave and unafraid of death, but there is nothing more to the character other than being the personification of bravery and unflinching love for one's country. Also, the director's on-the-nose approach and abject lack of subtlety while establishing plot points play spoilsport.

Oberoi tries his best to humanize his character but there is not much he can do. He has a permanent smirk on his face, even when he is being interrogated, to indicate his perpetual valour but this reduces his character to a caricature.

Roy's Captain Nawaz is an interesting character and the actor adequately conveys the frustration of an honourable man who is bound by duty. On the one hand, he knows what he is doing is probably wrong but on the other, his devotion to his country drives his actions. One wishes that the writer gave these two more depth.

Verses Of War is being streamed on YouTube.


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