Akshay Kumar's latest venture, Kesari, has shaken the box office with its heroic story and dazzling performances. The film, shot in the majestic city of Wai in Maharashtra, recounts the narrative of how 21 soldiers of the 36th Sikhs infantry division of the British India Army held off an army of upto 10,000 Afghans and Pashtuns with the odds stocked against them at the Battle of Saragarhi. Led by Havildar Ishar Singh, played by Kumar in the film, the Sikhs chose to fight to the death rather than surrender in what is possibly remembered as one of the greatest last stands.
As inspirational and moving as the story is, it is the cinematography of the film which brings about another dimension to the account. The picturesque town of Wai, in particular, takes you back in time. Once home to Rani Lakshmibai, almost 300 films have been shot in this quaint town. Two prominent forts from Kesari, Gulistan and Saragarhi, were erected in Wai. The entire battle sequence playing out in the movie was shot in this Maharashtrian town. Though the sets have been taken down, Wai remains an attractive proposition for your off-beat weekend getaway. Though Mahabaleswar and Panchgani are common choices, this little town nestled in the Satara district has its own unparalleled charm. Wai is blessed with temples built in the Hemadpanti architecture style, native to Western Maharashtra.
A lot of the filming also took place in the Golden Town of Rajasthan, Nawalgarh. Gifted with flamboyant forts and palaces, Nawalgarh oozes royalty, bravery, and class. Once a town of Marwaris who migrated to larger metropolitans in search of work and sent hard earned money back with artists to construct palaces to show off their wealth, Nawalgarh is also known as the land of Havelis and open air art galleries. Palaces like the Sheesh Mahal, which houses as breathtaking ceiling mural depicting the maps of Rajasthan and Nawalgarh from the mid-19th century, and Podar Haveli, which happens to have the most vivid murals in the town, are particular highlights at the Land of Havelis. The earlier used to be the dressing room of the maharani of Nawalgarh.
The unrivaled natural beauty of Wai matched with the exuberant grandeur of Nawalgarh give the Akshay Kumar-starrer genuine authenticity. While the story in itself is riveting, the unconventional locations give it that extra bit of an edge to make the film a long-lasting memory for an audience.