New Delhi: J P Dutta's blockbuster of 1997 completes 15 years and thus IBNLive features 'Border' in 'Retro Review' section.
Cast: Sunny Deol, Suniel Shetty, Akshaye Khanna, Raakhee, Jackie Shroff, Pooja Bhatt, Sudesh Berry.
Director: J.P. Dutta.
The theme of J P Dutta\'s \'Border\' revolves around a tensed war of survival between Indian and Pakistani armies.
A soldier has to fight two battles; one on the war front and the other at the personal level. 'Border' primarily ventures into the real battleground with occasionally drifting into the uglier side that is full of conflicts and losses.
'Border' claims to be based on the real life events happened at the Longewala post of the Indian Army during the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971. A small platoon of 120 Indian soldiers under the leadership of Major Kuldip Singh Chandpuri (Sunny Deol) of Punjab regiment, was pitched against a 2500 something Pakistani Army. The small group needs to hold the position for a night until the Air Force comes to their assistance, which can't happen before the dawn.
This high budget multi starrer works as the postcard of pretty faces and very masculine heroes, however, the writer has given space to the characterisation of every significant actor. One of them is Commandant Bhairon Singh (Suniel Shetty) who is soaked in the syrup of patriotism. The unfortunate man had to leave his beautiful wife Phool Kanwar (Shrabani Mukherjee, can the names get more obvious!) on the wedding night only, but the desert is closer to his heart, which he later proves during one of the highly overacted scenes of the film. Bhairon Singh blasts a rival tank and dies when he decides to run towards the opponents with anti-tank mine. Shetty salivates, cries histrionically, and delivers a performance that will create a space for him in the world of overacting.
Cute faced Dharamvir (Akshay Khanna) joins the Indian Army for the sake of keeping the family tradition alive, but his innocence and sensibilities restrict him from becoming a ruthless fighter. Slowly he also gets into the correct mode and becomes a close ally of Major Chandpuri.
Now the unit has to stay its ground till Wing Commander Andy Bajwa (Jackie Shroff) raids the post.
The screenplay complements the necessities of a war film. It is tight and stops the film from deviating much from the original idea. The director J P Dutta has tried his best to showcase both sides of a war. He opens the film with the families of soldiers who are fighting dreams, relationship issues, and the expectations from the earning member of the family. The canvas of the film is huge as it carries the weight of a big star cast and spectacular number of extras and special properties. Indian audiences have seen 'Haqeeqat' and 'Hindustan Ki Kasam' earlier, but the grandeur of 'Border' beats all the previous Indian war movies.
Dutta's exploration of the inner personal aspirations of the war heroes seems to be a quest of generating mystic heroes who are capable enough to understand the needs of the nation and fool enough to deny their personal luxuries.
The politics of this magnum opus revolves around the theme of the incredibly tensed war of survival. Though the song 'Mere dushman, mere bhai' towards the end tries to convey the message that a war brings losses only, but it can't deny sending strong anti-Pakistan message. A closer look at the long 'inspirational' monologue by Sunny Deol reveals that it (maybe unintentionally) has the potential of fuelling the anti-Muslim sentiments too. For example, take slogans used in the film or Indian Army's inclination towards religious symbols and temples.
Sunny Deol fits into his character. He has come up with a great performance which goes well with his style of shouting angry young man. His high pitched dialogues can keep the audiences glued to the screen.
With all his boyish charm, Akshay Khanna excels in a role that was not only multilayered but also asked him to show the mood transitions with facial gestures only.
Unfortunately, no actress receives the limelight in a film with a very strong male gaze. Pooja Bhatt tries but where could she fit into a war film.
J P Dutta owes Anu Malik everything he wants for the marvellous music of 'Border'. Penned by Javed Akhtar, songs such as 'Humein jab se', 'Ki ghar kab aaoge', 'Toh chaloon', 'Mere dushman mere bhai', and 'Hindustan hindustan' are going to make their place among all time great songs. They also work as tension relievers in the film.
Cinematography requires mention because 'Border' has been shot with nice detailing despite minimalist sets. To show a desert in an eye catching manner mustn't be an easy task. Moreover, the camera also shoots the after-effects of a war with sensibility.
'Border' is a great watch till you don't think about the crux of the story, because the moment you will start doing so, it will look more like a war provoking film than an anti war film.
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How would you rate 'Border' now?