Jeet Ki Zid (ZEE5, 7 Episodes)

Starring Amit Sadh,Amrita Puri

Directed by Vishal Mangalorkar

Rating: ***

There is something about inspirational stories, particularly those about soldiers, that fills our heart with gratitude. Jeet Ki Zid chronicles the astonishing life saga of Major Deependra Singh Sengar who almost lost his life, and then hobbled back to glory on crutches to run freely again after the doctors told him he would never walk.

Surely this is story that needed to be told.Ek bio-pic toh banta hai,boss! I wish the end-product had been more polished and professional. The production values are below par specially in the earlier episodes where the soldier-terrorist encounters are shot in what looks like a storeroom turned into a makeshift shooting location.

Then there is a commanding officer who speaks his lines as if he was reading from a tele-prompter. Of course since he is an armyman he throws in the occasional ‘f…king’ to drive in his point. You can’t be in the army without swearing (and drinking).

Funnier still is veteran actor Sushant Singh(no relation to you-know-who) whose portrayal of the blustering bullying swearing and sadistic colonel Ranjeet Chowdhary is a textbook study of army colonialism in cinema. We’ve been watching such army seniors bully new cadets since The Officer & A Gentleman. Such abuse cannot be condoned or justified , no matter how noble the intentions.

What redeems this series and makes its amateurish characterizations and execution condonable, is its nobility of heart and the sheer gloriousness of the subject. For me the biggest takeaway from this chequered effort is the appearance of the real-life Deependra Singh Sengar at the end of every episode. His presence gives the series of a heft and a gravitas far beyond what it deserves.

Then there is Amit Sadh whose portrayal of the never-say-die soldier is suffused with genuiness and credibility. The scenes of his physical training are so real I found myself wincing when the physically disabled Sadh tries to pick himself up from his bed in a tent with no support, or when the sadistic colonel kicks him on the ground. These are not faked stunts. Amit Sadh lives through Colonal Senger’s ordeal. It’s a performance brimming over with honesty and authenticity. Amrita Puri is right by his side doing Sridevi’s Chandni to her wheelchair-bound fiancé with earnestness to match her co-star.

If only the series was able to muster up a commensurate level of technical polish.Luckily the rough edges do not take away from the genuine feelings at the core of the presentation.