Who was Sam Manekshaw, legendary war hero on whom 'Sam Bahadur' is based?

Vicky Kaushal to essay the role of Manekshaw, India's first Field Marshal

sam bahadur true story Sam Manekshaw | AP, Vicky Kaushal in a still from the film

Vicky Kaushal is all set for the release of his most-awaited film this year—Sam Bahadur. Directed by Meghna Gulzar, the film is a biographical war drama that tracks the true story of a decorated officer of the Indian Army. Gulzar, who has films like Raazi to her credit, had said that Kaushal was her first and only choice to portray Manekshaw.

Who was Sam Manekshaw?

Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw, popularly known as Sam Manekshaw, was the Army Chief during the Indo-Pak war of 1971, which led to the formation of Bangladesh. Through his illustrious military career, Manekshaw fought five wars, including his service with the British Indian Army in World War II. In recognition of his leadership and strategic brilliance that led the Indian Army to victory in the 1971 war, he was made Field Marshal in January 1973— the first Indian to be bestowed with the honour. It was then prime minister Indira Gandhi who decided to promote Manekshaw to the rank of Field Marshal.

There are many stories about the legacy of Manekshaw, one of them being about how he came to be known as 'Sam Bahadur'. According to reports, it happened in 1969, when Manekshaw, during a visit to a Gorkha Rifles battalion, asked a soldier if he knew his name. The soldier replied 'Sam Bahadur', and the nickname stuck around.

Manekshaw's leadership skills have been lauded by many, and the stories recorded in many books. According to several accounts, during the 1971 war, Manakeshaw warned his soldiers against loot and rape as they entered Pakistan. He commanded them to treat the women with respect, and warned of consequences if orders were not followed. “I am commanding soldiers, not thieves,” he had said.

Family and career

Manekshaw was born in a Parsi family in Amritsar in 1914. Like his father, Hormizd Manekshaw, Sam, too, wanted to pursue the medical profession. But life had other plans. He was among the first batch of cadets to join the Indian Military Academy in Dehradun in 1932. For his services in the World War II, he was presented the Military Cross for gallantry. Post-partition, Manekshaw was reassigned to the 8th Gorkha Rifles.

He married Silloo Bode on April 22, 1939 in Bombay. The couple had two daughters Sherry and Maja. Manekshaw passed away at the age of 94 due to complications from pneumonia, at the Military Hospital in Wellington on June 27, 2008. 


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