Patriotism and Bollywood go hand in hand. In fact, where else would you get a bigger – or for that matter, a better medium to tell the poignant stories of ultimate bravery, bloodshed and sacrifice of our martyred soldiers?
…True stories of brave hearts who rose above the line of duty to defend the country. Ordinary men and women who wore their uniform like a superman cape, and refused to surrender despite the odds… Who fought till the end, laying down their lives gladly for the flag and the country. As Independence Day approaches, let’s get our patriotic spirits surging by celebrating cinema’s love for the motherland and her protectors.
From ‘Ab Tumhare Hawale Watan Sathiyon’, ‘Tango Charlie’, ‘Ghazi Attack’, ‘Dhoop’, ‘Lakshya’ to many others… These are not your regular song ’n’ dance masala films. These are real tales of the casualties of war that touch an emotional chord and tug at the heartstrings. These war films motivate the audience and cultivate a deep spirit of love for the nation.
So, if we are talking desh prem, they key name in this genre is JP Dutta, the filmmaker who has given a tiranga hue to patriotism in his films. Dutta wears his love for India on his sleeve and has made a trilogy of war films – LOC: Kargil, Border and now Paltan. Why war films? JP Dutta avers, “It’s simple. The feeling of patriotism and the nation always comes first and has always been there. In fact, I would say that the feeling of patriotism is now even stronger. In fact, the present generation is much more patriotic than the earlier one.”
Incidentally, J P Dutta’s immense love for patriotism also stems from the fact that his brother, who was an IAF pilot, lost his life in a MIG crash in 1987. Dutta dedicates all his films to him.
JP Dutta’s tryst with war films started with Border in 1997. This film was based on the true story of the battle of Longewala during the Indo-Pak war of 1971. It had actors like Sunny Deol, Sunil Shetty, Jackie Shroff, Akshay Khanna and many others essaying the role of real soldiers. It released on Independence Day and was the second highest grosser worldwide.
His next film was LoC: Kargil – a true film based on the 1999 India-Pakistan battle in Kargil. This film had an ensemble cast of Sanjay Dutt, Ajay Devgn, Suniel Shetty and Saif Ali Khan. LoC spotlights the true story of Bravehearts like Captain Vikram Batra and Manoj Pandey who fought and laid down their lives for the country. This film too was critically acclaimed and did very well at the box office proving that India was truly emotional about its soldiers.
India, the real tiger
Next in line is Paltan… So, what made JP Dutta make Paltan a part of the trilogy? JP Dutta avers, “Paltan is my ode to India. Brigadier John Dalvi had written a book called the Himalayan Blunder which was banned by the government at that time and released only after 10 years. I read that and came to know about this 1967 ‘skirmish’ – as they call it. I thought that this is something that we should be very proud of. So, I said, ‘Let’s do something positive that gives a good feeling to the entire nation. And even though the Chinese dragon is big, the Indian tiger is no less!’ And that’s how Paltan came into being.”
Such is the power of patriotism that in an industry where big money rides on films, there are actors whose love for the nation go beyond cheques. A perennial fave in war films, Jackie Shroff insists, “Sometimes, there are things above money and cheques. After doing movies like Refugee and Border, I needed to do Paltan. This is one film which I did without giving a second thought to the script.”
Sonu Sood who essays a soldier in Paltan adds, “Paltan is very special for me! I always wanted to play a soldier onscreen. My father Shakti Sagar Sood wanted to join the army. And he was very excited when he got to know I had bagged Paltan. Unfortunately, he passed away two years ago. I wish he was here to see me in
Arjun Rampal adds, “I come from an army background and I always wanted to do a war film. There is also the fact that the film was based on a real incident and it is not like the other movies where the fictional army man is a spy or is working undercover. This is a movie with a true story. There is no unnecessary singing, dancing or other non-realistic elements in this movie. This is an authentic war movie based on a true incident.”
JP Dutta sums up, “I think everybody is running towards success. But for me, the biggest success is when the mother of an officer who has died on the LoC comes out of the theatre, joins her hands and tells me, ‘Thank you beta, you brought my son to life for four hours.’ That’s it for me! No Oscar, no Rs 100 or Rs 200 crore, nothing compares to that mother’s sacrifice whose son laid down his life for the country. I am happy that I have made these films. I have attempted to make these martyrs come to life for four hours to immortalise them. That is my greatest satisfaction and joy because that’s what it is actually all about.”
…Indeed! This Independence Day, let’s take a moment and unfurl our tiranga with pride and relive the brave sagas of our soldiers. Thankfully, the Hindi film industry is doing just that… Telling real stories that need to be told and saluted.