Major Movie Review: I don't think there is any terrorist attack in India that got so many cinematic adaptations as the 2008 Mumbai Attacks. Now Adivi Sesh and director Shashi Kiran Tikka recreate the events of the terrifying couple of days through eyes of the martyred NSG commando Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan. Filmed simultaneously in both Telugu and Hindi, Major becomes the Bollywood debut of Adivi Sesh, and it is a damn impressive second start for the dynamic actor, if not when the movie is too much in love with him. Major Song Jana Gana Mana: This Track From Adivi Sesh’s Film Is A Power-Packed Anthem Crooned By Tojan Toby.

Major focuses more on Unnikrishnan's life when he was out of his teens and wanting to apply for a career in Navy behind his parents (Prakash Raj and Revathi)'s backs, his romance with fellow student Isha (Saiee Manjrekar) and then of course, his training as a NSG Commando and then being part of the mission to tackle the terrorists that were holed up in Taj Hotel, Mumbai.

For a change despite being a biopic of a real-life martyr, I like the fact that Major, written by its lead star, underplays needless jingoism and patriotic fervour, and instead focuses on what it means to be a soldier. There is an entire training sequence compiling of collage of events of Sandeep trying to figure what it means to him for being a soldier. It reminded me of a similar sequence in Captain Marvel (Fall and Rise), but works quite the wonder here.

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As for the portions delving into his personal life, there is a heartwarming quality that sticks with us in the family scenes, with Prakash Raj and Revathi lending commendable performances. Speaking about the love story, I don't know how much of it is true (Major is heavily fictionalised, ofc), since they have changed Sandeep's real partner from Neha to Isha. Like most love stories shown in South cinema, it starts on a creepy note (filmmakers really need to put a check on this, taking pics of girls without consent isn't very gentlemanly that too near the toilet). However, the chemistry between Adivi and Saiee is terrific, that goes from building trust between the characters to a rain-soaked kiss on a public bus. There are plenty of melodrama and cliches, but the actors make those scenes work. It also lays seeds for the dissent that would come in their relationship later on, as the film keeps reminding how Sandeep wants to put himself in front of danger when it comes to protecting others.

Which brings us to the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. Here's where Major became quite uneven. Maybe it is I have seen other films and series that tackle the Taj attack incident in a better manner - take Hotel Mumbai, for example, I found some of Major's scenes set within the hotel underwhelming and a bit amateurish. The production design doesn't do complete justice to the setting here, I really didn't get a sense of space and placement as to where things are rolling.

There is also a track involving Sobhita Dhulipala's character that represents helplessness of the trapped victims within the hotel, which while it does tie up with Sandeep's, does take the focus away from him. Also, I am not a fan of the idea of presenting the real Sandeep here as an action hero that we usually see in movies, as it takes away the realism from the proceedings and in a way, undercuts into his real-life heroic actions. The movie becomes this one-man show then, which I believe plays more into Adivi Sesh's stardom, rather than being a proper tribute to Major Unnikrishnan's heroics. Anyway, like most biopics made in India, Major also enjoys playing with the trope of presenting its central figure as a clean-cut persona. Which ends up showing his wife in a grey light when she demands he isn't with her when she needed him the most. Whether that was intentional or not, I am not sure, but that's something which doesn't do justice to her problems.

That said, there are a couple of strong highlights here. There was one scene that took me by surprise. It is how when after the hero performs a cliched impassioned speech to the media about controlling their irresponsible reporting, Major allows this scene to use that cliche into a cheer-worthy moment, which I don't want to spoil here. Another strong highlight is the hand-to-hand combat scenes, that are better choreographed and well-performed by the lead star. Adivi Sesh on Major: I Can’t Be Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, but I Can Be His Parents' Second Son.

Ultimately even when Major is in its leaner phases, it is Adivi Sesh's committed performance and dedication that manage to make proceedings watchable enough. The actor easily owns the scene with his screen-presence, but more so, when he adapts himself to the role with enough finesse and diligence, be i in his portrayal of Sandeep Unnikrishnan in his '20s to a suave and focused military man. I was earlier disappointed that a Malayali actor didn't play the role, but while watching Adivi Sesh on screen, that thought didn't come much in mind. A fine performance indeed!

Murali Sharma who plays his NSG commander also pitches in a notable act. Sricharan Pakala's score is quite nice.


- Adivi Sesh

- Prakash Raj and Revathi

- Making the Movie More of a Personal Journey


- Screenplay is Often Uneven and Melodramatic

- The Hotel Portions Feel Unrealistic at Times

Final Thoughts

As a biopic, Major may not be breaking any high grounds in the genre. It is cliched and often dramatic, and becomes quite filmy for a movie based on real-life events. However, where Major pulls you in is in how it tackles the human factor of being a soldier, in maintaining the heartwarming quality of Sandeep Unnikrishnan's personal relationships and of course, Adivi Sesh's performance.


(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Jun 03, 2022 05:40 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website