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Movie Reviews

Posted at: Sep 7, 2018, 8:24 PM; last updated: Sep 7, 2018, 10:13 PM (IST)MOVIE REVIEW: PALTAN

A lost cause


Film: Paltan

  • Director: JP Dutta
  • Cast: Arjun Rampal, Sonu Sood, Jackie Shroff, Gurmeet Choudhary, Harshvardhan Rane
A lost cause
A still from Paltan

Nonika Singh

No doubt valiant Indian soldiers deserve to be saluted for their immeasurable courage and countless sacrifices. Undeniably as a nation we have became insular and impervious to their martyrdom and a knock on our heads is just what we need. A celluloid reminder of their bravery could be the perfect answer to our insensitivity. Sadly, JP Dutta’s Paltan lets us down on most fronts. Sure, it takes us to year 1967 and unveils the almost forgotten chapter of war history the clashes between India and China; the Nathu La military clashes of 1967 which took place along the Sikkim border.

Bit by bit we are also introduced to the lead players of the war game. The ensemble cast of Arjun Rampal, Sonu  Sood, Gurmeet Choudhary and  Harshvardhan Rane, not only try to hold on to the border between India and China but also the narrative. While they succeed in protecting the nation’s pride and honour in the film, they can’t do much to keep the film above the water. 

Come to think of it, there isn’t much flesh to the story line. We are constantly told of the impending threat from China, their malevolent intentions to gobble up Sikkim and we see the Chinese soldiers walking up to the border all snarled up every now and then. Heated verbal exchanges take place and the real piece of action is reserved for the finale and is not badly done at all. Fights scenes certainly have a momentum and energy. But it’s what ensues before which taxes your nerves. 

Forced bravado, forced back-stories of each of the heroes add up to little. Yes, we understand the need to humanise our brave men, but wish Dutta had chosen a more innovative manner and not a hackneyed tool of wives, beloveds, children et al. To make up for absence of real tension he also throws up loads of one liners.

“No guts, no glory; no legends, no stories.  Heroes don’t choose destiny, destiny chooses them”, to sample a few. And then there is an overriding refrain of how no soldier wants a war for who knows the price it exacts better than him.  Point taken... but the missing point here as with our other war films, indeed a few that are made, is that we rarely stay close to the subject. There are too many digressions, a beloved, a wife back home; though to be fair Dutta doesn’t extend it too long.

Still the interjections sap the tension and tautness which anyway is missing for most part. Besides, Dutta may have promised an emotionally overwhelming experience and does try to lay it thick by devoting unnecessary extra minutes after the war is over.

The only thing that works in the cinematic epilogue that he offers us are the lines Tum 100 crore ke ehsasoon mein zinda ho. But for our soldiers to truly live onscreen we definitely need a better film, may be helmed by the master of war films Dutta himself but with greater precision and attention to detail. Seeing Esha Gupta with coloured hair hardly adds to the authenticity quotient of the film.          


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