By Deepa Gahlot
After making Border and LOC Kargil, JP Dutta has the war film formula down pat, and knows that no matter how boring or bombastic such films may be, it is almost a patriotic duty to applaud them.
One does cheer for the real soldiers fighting at the front under tough conditions, but these ripped action figures that Dutta conjures up in his latest Paltan may look all macho and gym-trained, but sound as if a bad Bollywood scriptwriter was telling them what to say amidst the gunfire and dust of the battleground.
Paltan, starring Jackie Shroff, Arjun Rampal, Sonu Sood, Harshvardhan Rane, Gurmeet Choudhry, Luv Sinha and Siddhant Kapoor, is based on a real encounter between India and China in 1967. This was a triumph soon after India had lost the Indo-China war in 1962, and Dutta believes—rightly so—that this story needs to be told. May be just not in his noisy paint-by-numbers style.
Indian soldiers stationed at the border in Nathu La in Sikkim want to avenge the 1962 defeat and teach those evil Chinese a lesson. The Chinese are all cartoonish; the Indians are all brave and honourable. They are characters we know from other movies—as the film keeps cutting to their personal lives, perhaps to humanise the almost robotic soldiers shouting “Sarvada Shaktishali” as they face the enemy.
Major General Sagat Singh (Jackie Shroff) orders Lt Col Rai Singh Yadav (Arjun Rampal) to head the Rajput Battalion and protect the Nathu La Pass, as the Chinese blatantly encroach on Indian territory. The two sides exchange words and stones, squabble over a fence; it takes too long to come to the real battle scenes, where Dutta finally shows his skill.
A generic war film cannot be said to be entertaining, but it could be watched as a tribute to the men who risk their lives to protect our borders.
Based on the Nathu La military clashes of 1967 which took place along the Sikkim border, Paltan showcases an untold story of the Indian forces facing off in an intense battle to ward off a Chinese infiltration.
Director: JP Dutta
Cast: Jackie Shroff, Arjun Rampal, Sonu Sood, Luv Sinha, Siddhant Kapoor and others
Posted on Sep 07, 2018
Deepa Gahlot is one of India’s seniormost and best known entertainment journalists. A National Awardwinning film critic, Deepa has watched more movies and theatre than most people in the country. An author of several books on film and theatre, she has had an extremely successful run as head of theatre and film at the National Centre for Performing Arts, Mumbai, during which she helped nurture several original productions. For Xyngr, Deepa Gahlot reviews theatre and cinema.