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'LoC Kargil', another war film

          "Life is beautiful, war is ugly". No one else can portray the sentiment better than filmmaker JP Dutta, whose latest war epic "LoC Kargil" is set for a winter release. The film has a record number of 24 main lead actors, including Bollywood heavyweights Sanjay Dutt, Suneil Shetty, Abhishek Bachchan, Akshaye Khanna, Manoj Bajpai, Saif Ali Khan, Nagarjuna and Ashutosh Rana. Kareena Kapoor, Raveena Tandon, Rani Mukherjee, Mahima Choudhry, Esha Deol, Namrata Shirodkar, Isha Koppikar and Divya Dutta vie with each other in the roles of heroines.

          The film is based on the 1999 India's stand-off with Pakistani intruders in Kashmir. "LoC Kargil" presents how the conflict changed the lives of every Indian. Nearly 500 Indian soldiers died on the snow-capped peaks of Kargil region in the campaign to oust hundreds of fighters who crossed into Indian territory from Pakistan in the summer of 1999. Over 2,900 rounds of artillery shells landed on the Indian side between July 20 and July 25. The face-off in the Kargil mountains nearly brought nuclear- capable India and Pakistan to the brink of their fourth full- scale war.

          Dutta's previous two films "Border" and "Refugee"- both based on Indo-Pak wars, created waves in the mainstream entertainment sector. As "LoC Kargil" races towards release, 50-year-old Dutta seems determined to weather all storms. Dutta justified the huge star cast, saying it gelled with the story line. "The involvement of the Indian army in Kargil war was to the tune of 45,000 men. When you are talking of the war which involved 45,000 men mobilised in Kargil, I mean I have not even used one percent of the actors or the characters I am depicting in this film," he said at the music release function of the film in Mumbai. Dutta said his film was a tribute to the heroes of the limited war.

          Made with a mega-budget of 400 million rupees, "Line of Control" was shot entirely in Ladakh region. The film made news earlier this year when two members of the unit died of cardiac arrest during the shooting in the high altitiude area. India's first war film "Haqeeqat", based on the war with China, was shot entirely in Ladakh in difficult conditions in 1964. "LoC Kargil" has the lead actors playing the real-life characters, a few of them who were even awarded for their heroics on the war front.

          Divya Dutta, who plays the wife of Grenadier Yogendra Singh Yadav, who won an Ashok Chakra posthumously, said there was no competition among the actors during the film's shoot. "This film is a tribute to the soldiers who are on in the frontlines. Then in this film there are many heroes. Every hero felt that he is portraying a soldier. There was no compeitive feeling among the actors as they knew that the film was being made for a cause," said Dutta.

          Like heroes, heroines in the film are the driving forces behind the men fighting on the battlefield. Most of actresses involved agreed that it was JP Dutta's vision that made them do roles of glorified extras in the film. The main actresses in the film are Kareena Kapoor, Esha Deol, Rani Mukherjee, Divya Dutta, Raveena Tandon, Isha Koppikar, Akansha, Mahima Chaudhary and Preeti Jhangiani.

          The film has music by Anu Malik and lyrics have been penned by Javed Akhtar. Malik had won a national award for his score in "Refugee". Critics say the music of the film enchantingly depicts various shades of war, bonding among soldiers and patriotic fervour. "People would definitely compare it with Refugee and Border. I won the national award for Refugee. But today I would say that those people have heard the music say 'well this is one of your best music' and they are surprised that 'you came up with such a good score'," said Malik. The film has five songs, two of them being of 13 minutes.

          Indian patriotic films have better success rate than romantic and action films. Recent films like "Border", "Maa Tujhe Salaam", "Gadar", "The Hero" and "Zameen" have ruled the box-office for months. More patriotic and war films like Farhan Akhtar's "Lakshaya", Raj Kumar Santoshi's "Ab Tumhare Havale Watan Saathiyon" and Gurang Doshi's "Deewar" are set for an year-end release.

Nov 12,  2003


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