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'For the country, Vikram is Shershaah'

By SUBHASH K JHA
August 11, 2021 10:52 IST
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'For me, he's the brother and friend I lost so early.'
'It is like a part of me has been amputated.'

IMAGE: Vishal Batra, whose twin brother Captain Vikram Batra made the supreme sacrifice for the Motherland in Kargil in July 1999, with Sidharth Malhotra, who plays him in the film Shershaah. Photograph: Kind courtesy Vishal Batra/Instagram

Shershaah tells the story of Captain Vikram Batra who laid his life for the country during the Kargil War in July 1999.

As Sidharth Malhotra's biopic on the Param Vir Chakra war hero gets ready to streakm on Amazon Prime Video from August 12, Captain Vikram's twin brother Vishal Batra tells Subhash K Jha, "It was important for my brother's story to be told."

Losing a twin brother to the nation, how does one deal with that?

It's been very, very, painful.

The void is permanent.

Vikram was not just my brother, he was my best friend, brother and confidante.

We dreamt of joining the armed forces together, but I couldn't qualify.

We shared our lives with each other till we were 24.

We were very, very close.

The pain is forever, but I've no choice but to put up a brave face in public.

 

Photograph: Kind courtesy Captain Vikram Batra/Instagram

With pain, there is a sense of pride at what your brother achieved?

I think he has immortalised himself.

What he achieved shall remain forever.

It is really a very mixed emotion for me.

For the country, Vikram is Shershaah.

For me, he's the brother and friend I lost so early.

It is like a part of me has been amputated.

What were your emotions on seeing the film?

I have to say it is not easy watching his story being recreated.

Not a day has passed since his going away 22 years ago when our family doesn't remember him.

To talk about him is still very, very painful.

The pain cannot be described.

Reliving the memory of his loss every day is not easy.

IMAGE: Vishal Batra with Sidharth Malhotra and Shershaah Director Vishnuvardhan. Photograph: Kind courtesy Vishal Batra/Instagram

I think we need to tell stories such as Vikram's and not make bio-pics on gangsters.

I am absolutely with you on this.

Shershaah is not only about Vikram.

It is a homage to all the brave soldiers who lay down their lives for our country.

A majority of us don't know what it means to lose a son or brother at the battle front.

A film like Shershaah brings to life the sacrifices made by our soldiers and their families. We should have many more films on our soldiers.

IMAGE: Captain Vikram Batra's parents at the National War Museum in Delhi. Photograph: Kind courtesy Captain Vikram Batra/Instagram

What do you think of Sidharth Malhotra playing your brother Vikram?

I believe he has put in a lot of hard work to understand Vikram and to play him as honestly as possible.

For him to go to Kargil and shoot there at a height of 2,000 feet... this is not an easy task for a civilian.

Of course, it is not the same as what our soldiers faced 22 years ago when they fought the war.

But for Sidharth to go down to Kargil and relive what our soldiers did couldn't have been easy.

I have to give it to him. He's done a good job.

I keep reading how much my brother's story inspired Sidharth. I hope it inspires other youngsters as well to join the army.

IMAGE: Sidharth meets Vikram Batra's parents. Photograph: Kind courtesy Captain Vikram Batra/Instagram

Did Sidharth meet you and your family to understand Vikram?

Oh yes, he met us many times to understand Vikram as a son, a brother and a soldier.

He met mom and dad.

He met our sisters and Vikram's comrades.

He tried to get into the skin of my brother's character.

I think Sidharth instinctively understood the gravity of his responsibility.

He couldn't afford to slip up, not when he was portraying someone who means so much to the country.

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SUBHASH K JHA