‘Sam Bahadur’ Ending Explained & Movie Summary: Why Was Sam Manekshaw Made The Field Marshal?

Indian patriotic films are either understated or take the jingoistic route to portray love for the country. There have been many films in the past that have explored the Bangladesh War, but most of them are based on the events that led to the liberation of Bangladesh. There are a few other films based on real-life army heroes who have trudged through the worst of times to provide our country with ultimate glory. We had Amazon Prime Original Shershah, which covered the story and sacrifice of the eternal Captain Vikram Batra during the Kargil War. Meghna Gulzar’s Raazi was the story of a spy during the peak of the Bangladesh Liberation War. We believe the director took inspiration from how the 1971 war was won, and this directorial venture covers the illustrious life of Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, who was affectionately known as “Sam Bahadur” by his comrades.


Spoilers Ahead

Who Was Sam Manekshaw?

Sam Bahadur movie begins with Sam Manekshaw being dubbed “Sam Bahadur,” as he was a part of the Gorkha regiment. Sam Manekshaw was born into a rich Parsi family and chose to join the British army. Sam Manekshaw and his buddies had managed to get themselves suspended for a brief period for spending the night outside of the training camp at a bar. Sam was a charming and flamboyant man who was known to have attracted many women from around the camp. Women were enamored by his style and conversations. Sam happened to meet his wife, Siloo Manekshaw, at one such party, and they became inseparable ever since. There was an inherent charm about him and Siloo that drew both towards each other, which eventually led to marriage. Sam Manekshaw’s brief courtship is a testament to how men of that era believed in love at first sight and made quick decisions for the future. The beginning of the film was also dedicated to how Sam was committed to the life of the army from the day he signed up.


What Happened To Burma During Word War II?

Siloo could be the epitome of the most understanding partner there is because she was able to sense a posting coming up. The war posting was to Burma, which was being ravaged by the Japanese army at the peak of the Axis forces’ dominance. Sam and his platoon were assigned to make sure the Japanese army retreated from the country and was stopped from capturing Rangoon. Sam was leading the platoon for the first time; they lost 50 men to a bombing carried out by the British on them accidentally. Sam and his team were given the responsibility of keeping the morale of the men up so that they could move ahead.

Sam was instrumental in leading his company from the front when the Japanese made a surprise attack on them. The company was able to capture a nearby hill before the enemy could, but in that process, Sam got shot nine times by a Japanese soldier. A resilient man, he survived the onslaught and was given a military cross for gallantry for his role in saving his men. Sam happily accepted the military decoration, and there was unanimous agreement on why Sam could be a great leader because of his war stories and his ability to command attention. In Burma. Sam did what he was trained to do—to be an army man whose aim was to serve the country he vowed to protect. Sam almost lost his life to the gunshots, but he pulled through, proving destiny was on his side.


Did The Partition Affect Him Personally?

As India was heading towards receiving independence from the British Rule, the aftermath of this triumph was the partition of the nation into two parts. The demarcation of India and Pakistan was announced, and Sam planned to stay back because all his family was born and raised in the country. He was not affected by the partition as much as his friend Yahya Khan was, who was moving to Pakistan with a torn heart. Yahya offers a heartfelt speech about having to choose between two portions of the heart; and deciding to move to another country was a tough one. As Yahya Khan saluted the army he served, Sam chose to cheer the Indian army in hush tones. As an army man, offering emotional farewells to his old friend Yahya Khan were expected. Yahya Khan went on to become the military dictator of Pakistan in the 1970s. The friendship they shared was unforgettable. Partition was an incident that tore the peaceful fabric of the Indian subcontinent and displaced people from their homelands. The army men who chose to leave the country were too distressed, and one of them was Yahya Khan.

What Was His Contribution To Kashmir’s Admission To India?

Post-partition, the largest task that remained in the hands of the Indian government was the accession of the independent kingdoms to form a large democratic country. The last kingdom to decide whether to choose India or Pakistan was Kashmir, under the rule of Maharaja Hari Singh. Several back-and-forth dealings were happening between the three parties to understand which government Kashmir would be under. It was essential to make Kashmir an integral part of our country. The team was joined by Sam Manekshaw to give military protection to everyone involved in signing the accession before the enemy could take over the city of Srinagar. 


Sam was instrumental in making sure the defense minister was flown out of Kashmir for the signed papers to reach Delhi. He could not help but make sure to take his job seriously and provide all kinds of protection before being attacked by the enemy army. The priority was always safeguarding the Indian officials. Kashmir’s accession was a big part of Indian history that changed the political game of the subcontinent. It marked the beginning of an eternal tussle for the conflicted land with the country’s neighbor and enemy.

How Did Sam Bring Up The Morale Of The Indian Army?

Northeast India was a portion that was always troublesome because of the increased insurgencies caused by rebel groups and several Chinese incursions. Sam Manekshaw was asked to improve the morale of the Indian army that was forced to retreat after the Chinese captured several lands in the state. Every statesman knew Sam was the only person who could improve not just the morale of the army men but also do a good strategic job with the insurgents. There was news that one company had surrendered to the rebel groups without putting up a fight, and Sam made sure to send across a bunch of bangles, implying that he questions their masculinity to have walked out without making any effort. This worked as a trigger for the company, and they bravely put up a fight with the rebel groups. Sam had a unique way of finding a solution to the problem, and in most cases, there is always a resolution. The gentleman was never fixated on the problems but was always on the lookout, seeking answers.

Was There A Cold War Between Siloo And Indira Gandhi?

Right after Indira Gandhi was made the Prime Minister of the country, Sam Manekshaw was also quickly named the Army Chief of Staff. Even though Siloo was happy with the top job he had received, she was always under the impression that the PM was trying to spend as much time with him as the head of the state. PM Indira Gandhi was enamored by Sam’s personality, and she knew the man was equipped with the right kind of knowledge and experience required to exercise any military actions. Even though there seemed to be tension between the wife and the boss, Sam never took these emotions seriously and stuck to the job assigned. His flirtatious and charming personality was the reason women would be attracted to him. Even though PM Indira took most of his time to understand the refugee situation, the military movement happening in East Pakistan was kept under watch. Siloo had all the reasons to be worried about the professional relationship and a growing friendship between PM Indira and her husband, but Sam was aware and steered clear to avoid any controversial statements about his personal life.

How Was The Bangladesh War Won?

The Bangladesh War was won only because of Sam’s exceedingly well-planned military movements, which forced the army in East Pakistan to surrender. Sam had predicted the war would begin in December, and so it did. This proved his years of experience on the field had made him intelligent enough to know how the enemy army would move and react. Since he was earlier a good friend of Yahya Khan, Sam could preempt his moves. This far-seeing thought process and strategies allowed the Indian army to have a clinical victory in Bangladesh. Sam was able to inculcate all kinds of right advice to the soldiers planning to enter the enemy territory. Sam’s brilliant mind led to him having big fans of the man, and he had become a celebrity as many were eager to meet the man and hear stories from him firsthand.


Why Was Sam Manekshaw Made Field Marshal?

Chief of Army Staff Sam Manekshaw’s role in the Bangladesh liberation war brought the man a lot of glory, and it allowed him to stay in the limelight for a long time. The 1971 war had repercussions, and Sam was willing to face them head-on, even though they were willing to discredit a war hero. Several instances in the past almost cost Sam his job in the army. Sam was put in tough situations himself and was able to come out victorious. Several outspoken interviews were given by the man dubbed ‘Sam Bahadur’ of the Gorkha regiment, and this name stuck to the glorious personality who gave everything to the Indian army, that includes victories on the war front. 

Sam’s controversial interviews led to many questioning whether he was the right choice for the post of Field Marshal that should be offered to him. Sam’s frank nature had surely worked on a few people, and most of them seemed to be women, including the then PM Indira Gandhi. Eventually, Sam Manekshaw was given Field Marshal’s rank, which as per the records the highest attainable rank in the prestigious Indian Army. His contribution and sacrifice for the Indian army cannot be replaced. The man was elated to have been given this most prestigious post, but he decided he would rather spend time in solitude with his family.


Sam Bahadur movie ended with Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw retiring and many were upset with the man leaving a job he was good at. The military man had finally bowed down and taken a leave to make sure he lived a life of peace and tranquility going forward. The last frame of him smiling is a testament to what he gave up as a soldier for his country.

Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan is a cinema enthusiast, and a part time film blogger. An ex public relations executive, films has been a major part of her life since the day she watched The Godfather – Part 1. If you ask her, cinema is reality. Cinema is an escape route. Cinema is time traveling. Cinema is entertainment. Smriti enjoys reading about cinema, she loves to know about cinema and finding out trivia of films and television shows, and from time to time indulges in fan theories.

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