Few days before the release of his latest film, Uri: The Surgical Strike, Vicky Kaushal spends an afternoon studio-hopping in Noida with his co-star, Yami Gautam. This is the last leg of promotions for the action-drama based on the 2016 attacks on the Indian Army camp in Uri, Jammu and Kashmir, and surgical strike against Pakistan that followed. There’s barely a moment to breathe in between these studio appearances, so we hop into the rental Mercedes Benz to ride with Kaushal and Gautam for a quick chat.
Vicky’s physical transformation for this film has been rather obvious. Yami, you play an intelligence officer. How did you approach the role?
Our director, Aditya Dhar felt that this wasn’t a character who should look made up when she comes on screen, but look sharp and relatable. He said that one can never know if the person next to them is an intelligence officer — they make the work look effortless. I had to layer the character accordingly.
Vicky, this character is a departure from the roles you’ve been known for. Was this an image building or breaking exercise?
I never pick up any script just for the character; the entire story is what matters to me. When I read the script for Uri, it ticked many boxes. Firstly, just to know the way the operation was conceived, planned and executed was so exciting. I really wanted to be a part of an action film. It’s just this hunger as an actor: you want to explore and test yourself in different territories. This film truly is a humble tribute to the Indian Army.
One of the tricky things about movies which clearly identify an enemy by their name, organisation or a country, is that it can easily steer into jingoistic territory. But there have also been films about the army which focus on the emotional toll of warfare. What is the heart of Uri?
The unity of all the departments that came together at a time when the entire nation, the media is asking questions and looking for a resolution. The essence of the film is patriotism, but it is very subjective too, it depends on what each viewer takes from it.