JP Dutta’s Border to be screened for Army officers and their families – Times of India


This year marks the 50th year of the Battle of Longewala, which was fought in the early days of December 1971. As a part of homage to the war heroes, a host of screenings of the film Border (1997), based on the said war, are expected to be held in different cities with Army officials and their families in attendance. Filmmaker JP Dutta, whose brother, Deepak Dutta, a flight lieutenant at that time, had fought in the war, is also expected to attend some of these screenings. The filmmaker made the film nearly 25 years after the war, with Sunny Deol, Akshaye Khanna and Suniel Shetty in pivotal roles. It’s 24 years since the film’s release, but it’s fresh in the minds of the audience and the filmmaker even today. For Dutta, it’s a professional milestone and a personal experience of his sibling being on the battlefield.
Talking about it, the filmmaker, who’s known for his war dramas and whose last release was Paltan (2018), says, “My brother Deepak had fought in the War of Longewala. Those days, my mother used to be glued to the radio to hear the updates and also the names of the jawans who were martyred. My mother was worried about my brother. Those moments and the memories of that time keep coming back to my mind. When you reach a certain age, you start living in the past and it is the only thing you can feel connected with — what was and what is. My daughter Nidhi wants me to visit every single city where the movie will be screened next month onwards for the armed forces, their families, and families of war heroes. I am 70 now and I am not sure how many cities I can visit, but it will be an experience that I will cherish.”

Making a war-drama like Border was not easy. Dutta had waited 25 years to procure clearances to make the movie. He also had a tough time casting an actor for the part of Dharamveer, a role that was eventually essayed by Akshaye Khanna, a newcomer at that time. “Border was the first film I was producing,” reminisces Dutta, adding, “I came from a middle-class background. When I came into films, my father, OP Dutta’s financial position was weak. We did everything together — from the very first film I directed which was Ghulami (1985), all the way up to Umrao Jaan (2006). Border was the first film I produced. All those affairs of money, getting into the big game and the big picture were playing on the mind. Sometimes, when I think of Border, I am reminded of all the stress I went through while making it. Being creative by the day while shooting, and then, later by night, being driven by numerous other things that were going on around the movie… I would finish shooting sometimes at 10 in the night and at times, we would go on till 2am. After that, my accountant and I would go through the day’s expenses. The experience of making Border was personal in so many ways.”

When prodded about the casting decision for Dharamveer’s character, the filmmaker recalls, “The character was turned down by Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgn… I was this spoilt director as I would not narrate the entire script; I would just tell the actor about their character and how it would play out. They knew Sunny Deol had been cast to play Kuldeep Singh Chandpuri, so actors wanted to know how the film in its entirety plays out. I refused to give anyone the entire script in their hands. I used to be very confidential about my scripts. Border was based on the real details I had about the war. It entailed a lot of research and I chose to keep a closed fist as far as the script was concerned. It took a while, but I found Akshaye Khanna and he played the part well. Getting Sunny and Suniel Shetty was a home run. In fact, Suniel and I had not done any work before this film, but he and I clicked. Ditto, Jackie Shroff.”

When asked what according to him brings the audience back to Border each time war dramas and patriotic films are in the spotlight, Dutta says, “There is a human element to the story, which went beyond the war and the border. I think that is what worked. I still don’t know what drove me to make Border. I just feel grateful to God that I could make the film.”



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