Written by Manisha Lakhe on September 7, 2018
It’s A Miracle, We Didn’t Kill Ourselves…
They claim that the film is based on real events following the border skirmishes with China in Nathula Pass region near Sikkim in 1967. Kids in the park have better fights than Indian and Chinese soldiers throwing stones at each other. This is a mockery of the lives of soldiers who are shown to be foolhardy, stupid and crying at the drop of a hat. The dialogues are so trite they have been taken off quote sites. All in all a waste of time.
Chinese and Indian soldiers walking on two sides of a line made with stones. ‘This is Mao’s land of the pure’ Chinese soldier says. The Indian soldier insists, ‘This is our motherland!’ Then all the soldiers begin kicking at the stones that demarcates the two countries and before you can say, ‘Whaa!’ the two sides back off. We are told again and again that the Chinese do this all the time.
You have facepalmed when you were introduced to the brave Indian ‘Paltan’ (Hindi word for Platoon) chiefs. Each one is a perfect trope for a soldier. The son of a farmer in Punjab in love with a gal from his neighborhood is shown to be tilling the farm on furlough instead of resting; a young officer from rural Haryana or is it Bihar or Uttar Pradesh (?) who takes his fiance on a bicycle ride only to proposition her. Yes, the back stories of the lads is that generic. Even when one of the lads gets nightmares about his death, you realise that the treatment is shoddy and frivolous. So whether he is called Attar Singh or Harbhajan Singh or Rai Singh or Bishen Singh it just feels like a sham. Their stories about leaving their kids and wives and parents home alone seem generic. Unfortunately, they are true stories. What a terrible thing to do to brave soldiers who died protecting the borders!
Every member of the Paltan – Arjun Rampal, Sonu Sood, Harshvardhan Rane, Gurmeet Choudhary, Siddhant Kapoor, Luv Sinha and Jackie Shroff – is given at least one patriotic dialog. Every dialog seems to have been scraped from the bottom of the patriotic dialog jar. A truly laughable example: ‘No guts, no glory, no legends no story.’ and ‘Walls are not made by stone, walls are made by brave men’ (this after they’ve decided to build a barbed wire fence on the Indian side of the border!)
Who speaks like this? This chest thumping is so pointless and done so badly, you begin praying that the Chinese guys (they’re generic too! One has a permanently pissed off expression and their ‘Commissar’ speaks pidgin Hindi!) would get on with the war business. They don’t.
Both sides build trenches, fill them after confrontation. Both sides pose angrily then back off. Both sides do childish things like ‘Look! My foot is on your land’ type war game then back off. At one point, the Indian soldiers walk over to the Chinese side and then get chased around by soldiers as though they were playing tag. And you wonder when they are going to begin shooting at each other.
By the time they actually fight, which happens in the last twenty minutes, you have laughed until you choke on your popcorn rather than any emotion.
‘What are the soldiers doing?’ The commanding officer asks one other officer.
‘They are looking at the pictures of their loved ones.’
We see all soldiers looking at pictures of their wives and kids in their wallets longingly. And I mean all.
The commanding officer then says, ‘We should also do the same.’
And before you know it, all the officers are doing the same.
After that scene, you wish fervently that the Chinese would drop a gigantic bomb on them and finish the film. They show these officers blow themselves up on grenades (spelt incorrectly in the subtitles) and their bodies remain intact. They show how Indian military waits for everyone to die before sending help… And you pray that there are no more wars in real life so JP Dutta is not inspired to trivialise the horrors of war by making such trite movies ever again.
(this review appears on www.nowrunning.com)