Border (1997)

Never has a war movie been known by the degree of bombings and batonings they have shown. It is the tapestry of individual and collective human emotions and conflicts and the situations that they have to deal with within the boundaries of regimentalised ethics of duty, discipline and deliberation, that makes a war epic engaging.

Cast: Sunny, Sunil, Jackie, Akshay, Pooja, Tabu

How often have we had a war film from Bollywood involving 40 real tanks and 300 members of an Army unit, with a desert as a war field? Apart from the principal actors, reportedly, the rest of the cast – the pilots, the tank drivers, the soldiers – are all from the Indian Army. And this is probably the first time that a war film has been made in this country using real arms and ammunition.

Infact, the story is inspired by the Longewala battle of 1971. In the opening reels, the director tries to introduce the various characters and their family lives. The armymen’s background stories teem with the predictable marriage, an engagement ceremony which is of course interrupted by song and dance sequences. Songs and those gyrating dances are a must in our industry. Left to himself, probably Mr Dutta would have focussed entirely on the men in the war trenches but he has to cater to the commercial market. So, the second half gets down gritty to the business of re-enacting the battle between the outnumbered regiment against Pakistan’s sophisticated weaponry and a huge taskforce. The war scenes are effectively picturised that it conveys the almost-suicidal heroism of our sentinels.

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