The trailer of the film Uri starring Vicky Kaushal and Paresh Rawal released today, December 5, 2018, racking up 50,000 views in the first two hours itself. Expectedly, the two-and-half-minute long trailer attempts to perpetuate a hyper-nationalist culture with fiery slogans. Directed by Aditya Dhar and produced by Ronnie Screwala, the film is set to release on January 11, 2019. The film’s timing will help the BJP market the surgical strike in the 2019 elections as its unique contribution to Indian security — a claim belied by similar army actions taken under previous governments. The fact that a key official shown in the trailer is a deadringer for national security adviser Ajit Doval is a giveaway.
Uri is based on the 2016 surgical strikes carried out by the Indian army in retaliation to a terror attack in Kashmir. The opening scene of the trailer sets up the scenario as the title says, “19 unarmed military soldiers were martyred at the Uri base camp Kashmir”. We then see a weary soldier, played by Kaushal, who vows to avenge the death of his fellow army men.
We are introduced to a ‘Naya Hindustan’ where India is set to teach Pakistan a lesson through violence and bloodshed. The tone further builds up when soldiers shout “Jai Hind” as their leader blurts, “They want Kashmir and we want their heads!”
From a blaring background score to beast-like soldiers who want nothing but the enemy’s blood, this war film is another addition to several other military dramas that are cashing in on our contemporary hyper-nationalism.
Our love for the military has apparently paved way for a commercial market that feeds on this emotion and also amplifies it. From films to advertisements to random everyday products, everything is about our love for the soldiers and national pride. As consumers, we are just getting carried away by such messages without really thinking about the kinds of intolerance we’re encouraging and internalising.
These tendencies are quite visible in the trailer’s comment section – which is full of abuses, calls for patriotism and national flag icons. On top of that, the video description of the trailer says, “Ye naya hindustan hai, ye ghar me ghusega bhi aur marega bhi!”
This Bajaj auto ad campaign keeps reiterating the fact that the motorbike is made up of the metal body of the warship INS Vikrant used in 1971 India-Pakistan war. Heromotor Corp. also featured soldiers being saluted by civilians in one of their video campaigns right after the 2016 surgical strikes. Pepperfry, an online furniture marketplace, showed a junior officer receiving a wooden cupboard as a gift in one of their ads. Online mobile recharge platform MobiKwik went a step ahead, offering 20% cashback with a special code “ISTSTRIKE”. However, they had to withdraw the offer after huge backlash on social media. Recently, Tshirtbhaiya.com, an online clothing retailer, sold T-shirts which said “#SurgicalStrike INDIA’S PRIDE”.
— TShirtBhaiya.Com (@TShirtBhaiya) December 4, 2018
After a series of surgical-strike based ad campaigns, a full-fledged three-hour film on a contested, highly politicised and acrimonious issue is only going to stoke the already-rising flames of toxic hyper-nationalism.
Feature image credit: Twitter
Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to a terrorist attack in Uri, Kashmir as “alleged”. We regret the error.