War is a harsh reality of the modern world. On one hand, it’s a destructive force and on the other, it also brings out extremes of bravery and patriotism, especially from the soldiers deployed at the front. Our filmmakers have always been in awe of the Indian soldier. The army personnel have always been projected in the best light in our films. Our border warriors give it their all to keep their motherland safe and this fact has been highlighted time and again in our films. Border (1997) was a big-budget extravaganza that changed the scenario of war films. Starting from that iconic movie, we pick the best movies since then which paid homage to the unparalleled bravery and honour of Indian soldiers who are willing to give up their lives for their country in the blink of an eye.
Director: JP Dutta
Cast: Sunny Deol, Sunil Shetty, Akshaye Khanna, Jackie Shroff, Tabu, Pooja Bhatt
The film was shot in Bikaner and recreated the legendary1971 Battle of Longewala. Real army men participated in the shooting of the film and genuine army gear like tanks and army jeeps were used to add a touch of authenticity. On the evening of 3 December 1971, Pakistan Air Force planes bomb multiple Indian airbases and war officially gets declared. Dharamveer Bhan (Akshaye Khanna) and five of his soldiers are sent to patrol the border in a section; BSF Assistant Commandant Bhairon Singh (Sunil Shetty) and his men are assigned to clear out the nearby villages. Dharamveer spots Pakistani tanks (Chinese Type 59s) and infantry crossing the border into India. He reports back the enemy movement to Major Kuldip Singh Chandpuri (Sunny Deol) and is ordered to secretly follow the tanks without engaging them. Wing Commander Andy Bajwa (Jackie Shroff), tells Major Kuldip that there can be no air support as his base has only Hunter-Fighters, which can only fly during the day. Bajwa promised air support at first light and asked Kuldip and his men to hold off the enemy during the night. Kuldip and his vastly outnumbered men decide to defend their post till their dying breath. Showcasing heroics of the highest order, they continue to engage the enemy throughout the night, even blowing off tanks by deploying grenades and ensure a victory when Bajwa and his boys fly down to finish off the enemy. Border was a hugely patriotic film and evoked the feelings of patriotism and pride among the masses.
LOC: Kargil (2003)
Director: J. P. Dutta
Cast: Sanjay Dutt, Sunil Shetty, Karan Nath, Ajay Devgn, Abhishek Bachchan, Saif Ali Khan, Akkineni Nagarjuna, Akshaye Khanna, Manoj Bajpayee, Ashutosh Rana
The film was a star-studded affair and depicted a true picture of the 1999 Kargil conflict. Unfortunately, the lack of a coherent script and editing made it overtly long and ate into its dramatic appeal. That said, the performances by its ensemble cast were true to form. The actors gave it their best and brought to life the heroic exploits of such bravehearts such as Captain Anuj Nayyar, Captain Vikram Batra, Lieutenant Manoj Pandey, Lieutenant Colonel Y K Joshi and many other known and unknown heroes of Kargil who gave it their all in punishing conditions to ensure a victory over India against the Pakistani army, as well as the terrorists. It was an expensively mounted affair and Dutta made sure the battle scenes looked authentic.
The Ghazi Attack (2017)
Director: Sankalp Reddy
Cast: Rana Daggubati, Atul Kulkarni, Kay Kay Menon, Taapsee Pannu, Rahul Singh, Satyadev Kancharana
During the 1971 war, Pakistan reportedly deployed its best submarine PNS Ghazi to destroy India’s aircraft carrier INS Vikrant. In order to fool the submarine, the Indian navy sent an old ship, INS Rajput as bait in order to dupe Ghazi. Rajput pretended to be Vikrant which sailed away to safety. It’s said the officials abroad Vikrant set depth charges upon sighting the submarine. Another version goes that it wasn’t able to successfully evade the mine; it itself had floated as a trap for Vikrant and went down as its torpedo caught fire. The film, though, gives a radically different version of the events. It shows that an S21 class Indian submarine commanded initially by Capt. Ranvijay Singh (Kay Kay Menon) and later by Lt. Commander Arjun Varma (Rana Daggubati), has been sent to spy on Ghazi. Singh wants to attack it and his first mission fails narrowly. Ghazi gets alerted to their presence and there ensues an underwater cat-and-mouse chase where both the sides try to come on top. Despite his submarine being badly damaged, Arjun finally guides it to victory.
Director: JP Dutta
Cast: Jackie Shroff, Arjun Rampal, Sonu Sood, Gurmeet Choudhary, Harshvardhan Rane, Siddhanth Kapoor, Luv Sinha
It was a realistic war film saluting the bravery of Indian soldiers taking care of far off border posts. We know that India lost a war with the Chinese in 1962. But few know that in 1967, India won a skirmish with China at the Sikkim border. The film narrates the incident truthfully without pulling any punches and without any unnecessary biases. Both the Chinese and the Indian soldiers are shown to be professionals doing their duty. The film begins with Lt. Col. Rai Singh Yadav, CO 2 Grenadiers (Arjun Rampal) getting briefed on his new assignment by his commanding officer, Maj. Gen. Sagat Singh, GOC Mtn Div (Jackie Shroff). He meets his fellow officers, Maj. Bishen Singh (Sonu Sood), who is made operational commander in charge of the security, Capt. Prithvi Singh Dagar (Gurmeet Choudhary), and Maj. Harbhajan Singh of 18 Rajput (Harshvardhan Rane), who is the liaison officer from the 18 Rajputs who preceded them at the border. The other important members of the command include 2Lt. Attar Singh (Luv Sinha) and HAV Parashar (Siddhant Kapoor), who acts as the interpreter and the intelligence agent. Irritated by the constant stand-offs between the Chinese and Indian soldiers, Lt. Col. Rai Singh decides to fence down the border and is given a go-ahead for the same by the high command. Sikkim wasn’t officially a part of India till then and was considered as an Indian Protectorate. The Chinese term the fencing as invasion and retaliate. The Indian soldiers deployed for the fencing are caught unawares but valiantly fight back. Capt. Prithvi Singh Dagar and Major Harbhajan Singh lose their lives in the action. Constant shelling by better placed Indian guns for the next three days compel the Chinese to raise the white flag, resulting in a moral victory for the Indians.
Uri: The Surgical Strike (2019)
Director: Aditya Dhar
Cast: Vicky Kaushal, Paresh Rawal, Yami Gautam, Kirti Kulhari, Mohit Raina
On 18 September 2016, a fedayeen attack was made by four armed militants on an Indian army base near the town of Uri. Nineteen Indian Army soldiers were killed. On 29 September, eleven days after the Uri attack, the Indian Army conducted surgical strikes against suspected militants in Pakistani-administered Kashmir. It was claimed that many terrorist launch pads inside the POK border were destroyed. And around 35-50 militants got killed in the raid. Uri: The Surgical Strike, gives a fictionalised version of the events. Vicky Kaushal and his team of specially trained commandos cross the border both via helicopter and on foot. They successfully infiltrate and not only destroy a number of terrorist camps but also manage to kill the main perpetrators of the Uri attack. The story is high on emotional connect. You get to see the personal side of a professional soldier and can relate to the sacrifices he gets to make while serving his country. Vicky Kaushal gave a restrained performance as a soldier bursting with patriotic fervour, who keeps a cool head to see the dangerous mission through.
Director: Anurag Singh
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Parineeti Chopra
Kesari is a retelling of the famous Battle of Saragarhi which took place in 1897. 21 soldiers of the 36 Sikh Regiment stood in the way of ten thousand Afghan soldiers and didn’t let them conquer the Saragarhi fort till the evening. The original plan of the Afghans was to capture the nearby forts, Fort Lockhart and Fort Gulistan as well on the same day. The sacrifice by the 21 lionhearted Sikhs put a spanner in the works. Akshay Kumar, who played Havaldar Ishar Singh was the soul of the film. His bearing, his mannerisms made him out to be a professional soldier of that era. The way he rallies the morale of his fellow soldiers and leads from the front was an example of true heroism. The film wasn’t jingoistic. And it made out that the soldiers were willing to lay down their lives for their motherland and not because of some fealty to the British. The action scenes became more gruesome as the body count escalated, director Anurag Singh not sparing us the true horrors of war. You can’t help salute the bravery of the 21 soldiers who gave their all to a cause.