Border (1997) 

 

 

 

Director:     .

Starring:     Rakhee Gulzar (Dharamvir's mother), Sunny Deol (Major Kuldeep Singh Chandpuri), Jackie Shroff (Air Force Commander), Sunil Shetty (Captain Bhairav Singh, Raja), Akshaye Khanna (Lieutenant Dharamvir), Pooja Bhatt (Kanu), Tabu (Kuldeep's wife), Kulbhushan Kharbanda (Bhagiram, Cook), Sudesh Berry (Mathura Das), Puneet Issar (Rattan Singh), Sharbani Mukherji (Raja Bhairav Singh's wife), Rajiv Goswami, Sapna Bedi, Amrit Pa, Mahavir Bhullar.

Battle of Longewala in the Indo-Pakistani war, 1971

 

 

Spoiler Warning:

"This film is adapted, dramatized and fictionalized for the screen from a true happening during the Indo-Pak War of 1971 called the 'Battle of Loungewala'.  Any similarity in the names of some of the characters is meant to be our tribute to their valor and courage."

Indian Airforce Base Western Sector: May 1971.  Indian pilots jump into the airplanes and take off.  The airplanes return to base and the squadron leader congratulates his pilots.  He mentions that he sees signs of a fight coming.  "The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war."

Flight leader Andy reports into his boss.  The commander says that the clouds of war can shower any time.  He wants Andy to move to Jaisalmer immediately and make a new air base there.  In addition, take charge of the Hunter Squadron.  After all Andy is fully operational on Hunters and Migs. 

'23rd Battalion, the Punjab Regiment, North-eastern.  The commander of the ground troop tells the men that today is the day they have long waited for.  The company will go on advance post to Rajasthan. 

Preeti calls her father amidst the sound of machine gun target practice.  Dad asks her if everything is okay and Preeti has to tell him that her husband has to move up to the border.  "There is going to be a war."  She then asks her father to please get her husband's transfer stopped.  Father says that he will see to it that her husband will not be sent to the border.

Dad telephones back and says he has stopped Kuldeep's transfer.  Instead, he will be sent to Delhi headquarters.  Preeti has a problem, however, because her husband is listening in on the telephone conversation.  Kuldeep speaks up and says he will be going to the border or he will be divorcing his wife. 

The Himalayan Mountains are beautiful in the distance.  Preeti comes to visit her husband at target practice.  She reminds him that he took his son Dipu's oath saying he would never leave his wife.  He replies that when he joined the army he also took an oath.  He says he would sacrifice his own child in the defense of India.  Preeti gets upset and starts crying.  She walks away still crying. 

Later he goes over and puts his arm on her shoulder.  She asks him to forgive her saying:  "Without you, life would be worse than death."  She says that's why she telephoned her father.  What if something happens to Kuldeep?  He replies:  "Dipu and your love will not allow me to die."

Andy Bajwa arrives at his new assignment base.  He introduces himself to Major Kuldeep when he jumps on the back of a transport plane..  Andy asks if the Major is getting a lift to Jodhpur?  Yes, and the the Major will get a lift to the border outpost in the Rajasthan sector.  Andy teases the Major saying the guys in the army have it easy.  They transfer to a base that is already well-established.  The airforce guys have to make an air base in the desert of the Jaisalmer sector. 

Kuldeep arrives at headquarters.  There the commander shows him a map and points out the Loungewala post where the Major will take charge.  He is to relieve the BSF men over there.  And just outside of the building 120 men are waiting for the Major.  The Major is surprised at the low number.  The commander says 600 men will take care of the Sadewala post. 

23rd Punjab Battalion "Alpha Company".  The commander introduces Kuldeep to Second Lieutenant Dharamveer, Kuldeep's second in command.  The commander leaves and Kuldeep orders Dharamveer to get the company mounted.  The men run for the backs of the trucks. 

Jaisalmer Mini Airbase at Rajastha.  The pilots say the area here is nothing but desert.  And the buildings on the base consist of three tents.  Andy looks at the map to look at their neighbors in the area: Ramgad; Chanot, Haryana, the main target of the 1965 War; Sadewala in the state of Haryana.

Border outpost of Loungewala, on the border of Pakistan and Loungewala, Rajasthan, India. The unit from Punjab arrives.  Kuldeep orders that a message be sent to the commanding officer of the outpost out on patrol to come back to base because Major Kuldeep is here to take over the outpost.  The commanding officer is currently sleeping in the warm sand. 

The three man patrol comes riding back to the outpost on camels. Captain Bhairav Singh comes over and salutes the Major.  Singh and his BSF company will be sent to Kataru post, but the Captain says he and three of his men have been ordered to stay at Lounegwala for the duration of the war.  This is because the Captain knows all about the lay of the land in the area. 

The BSF men get on their camels and head out for their new post. 

Subedar Ratan Singh reports for duty to the Major.  He is a key man on the anti-tank weapons.  Subedar later goes into the kitchen to see his old friend, the cook Bhagiram.

Kuldeep goes to the border.  They are a mile or so away from the Pakistani guards.  Kuldeep walks right out to the border  in front of the Indian machine gun nest.  Then he walks right out to the border marker.

Back at camp the Pakistanis call Major Kuldeep Singh Chanpure.  The Pakistani says that they know that Kuldeep has arrived at the base.  The voice says that they will kill the Major and Loungewala will be his burial place. The Major gets really angry and challenges the Pakistani to face him man to man.  He tells the voice off and then hangs up on him.  Kuldeep turns to his men and says there must be an informant in their camp because the Pakistani knew everything worth knowing about him and his men.  Some of the men suggest that the travelers in the area cross the border into Pakistan and perhaps one of them is the spy. 

Kuldeep with Second Lieutenant Dharamveer and another man go at night to check on some of the travelers.  At one place they find four men together.  Kuldeep has his two men frisk the men, but no weapons are found on them.  The Major asks them where are they coming from and where are they going?  The men tell them.  Everything seems okay, so the soldiers start walking back to their jeep. The men notice that the camels are being fed green grass, the type that is found in Pakistan.  So the three head back to the travelers and shoot all four of them.  One man is holding onto life and Kuldeep orders the Second Lieutenant to shoot the man dead.  The Second Lieutenant can't force himself to do it, despite the Major screaming at him that this is an order.  Finally, the Major just shoots the man and the lieutenant gets sick and vomits.  Kuldeep is absolutely furious with the Second Lieutenant.  He asks how can Dharamveer be the son of a soldier hero and not be able even to stand the sight of blood?

A friend of Dharamveer asks him if he still holds the army responsible for the martyrdom of his father?  Dharamveer says yes.  Then why did Dharamveer join the army?  Because his father only wanted his son to be in the army. 

Dharamveer's friend decides to switch to a lighter topic.  He asks if Dharamveer's mother has already lined up a girl for him?  Yes, and he has even meet the woman.  He liked her, but more importantly she liked him.  Wearing his uniform, he remembers getting off the bus by a field.  The girl was working in the field and she ran to get his mother.  His mother is blind and needs help.  The girl brings her to her son and they embrace each other.  They go to the house.  The girl's parents come over for lunch.  While talking mother mentions the marriage of her son and it looks like this is the girl mother has in mind. 

The parents leave the two young people alone.  The girl's name is Kamo and she is upset that Dharamveer doesn't even notice her.  So she takes a mango and squirts the juice of it onto Dharamveer's white shirt.  He retaliates by throwing her into a big tub of water holding various fruits.  He asks her what she wants and she says Second Lieutenant Dharamveer.  So he bends down to kiss her.  She starts yelling for her mother, gets out of the tub and runs to the back of the house.  He chases after her across the bridge. 

The couple sing a love song. 

The news on the radio is that there is a possibility of war at the border.  All the leaves of the soldiers have been canceled an they must go back to their bases.  Mother and Kamo are distressed that Dharamveer has to return to his base and possibly fight in a war. 

Kamo walks her second lieutenant to the bus stop.  He says if he doesn't make it back, she is to marry someone else. 

Now that Dharamveer has told his love story, he wants his friend to tell his.  The fellow says he's a Rajput.  The girl's name was Phulgawar and she was his neighbor's daughter.  He says he will never forget their wedding.  On his wedding day just after the ceremony, he received the news that his leave was canceled because an emergency had been declared.  His wife is suspicious that something bad has happened, but the husband says nothing about it to his wife on their wedding night.  The wife finds out about the canceled leave when she awakens in the morning and sees her husband in his army uniform. 

Back at work, Dharamveer goes to check out where a spy broadcast to the Pakistanis is coming from.  He goes alone to root the man out.  He sees and hears the man transmitting his message to the enemy.  The spy hears the noise when Dharamveer runs into the herd of sheep. The spy grabs his AK-47 and when Dharamveer busts open the door, he just misses shooting the soldier in the head.  The spy starts running away, but the Second Lieutenant with his AK-47 shoots him twice in the back.  He goes up to him and shoots him twice more with his pistol.  He is going to shoot again, but Kuldeep stops him saying that the man is already dead.  Dharamveer says his Major told him to make killing a habit, so he is making killing a habit. 

Back at the base the Major tells Dharamveer that he is recommending him for a Gallantry Award. 

Two of the soldiers get into a fight because one of them insulted Mother Indian earth, saying the land here is good for nothing and gives birth only to scorpions and cactus plants.  The Major breaks up the fight.  But he tells Mathuradas to apologize to Bhairav Singh for insulting Mother India.  He also demands that the two men hug each other.  Mathuradas apologizes and they hug each other.  They also shake hands. 

At the mini airforce base, the pilots are getting antsy waiting for the war to start.  The leader Andy Bajwa tells the men he hopes they don't have to face combat.  One of the pilots asks him why he never married?  He tells a story about the time he met a woman who says that she bows down for no one.  So Andy tells the woman that he can teach her to bow down to someone.  The woman takes his bet that he can make her bow down.  The next morning she waits on an isolated road out in the desert near her car just as instructed by Andy.  She is to wait there for five minutes.  Within that time here comes Andy with his jet fighter aircraft and he swoops down on the road and the girl.  She gets so frightened, that she does more than bow down.  She drops on the flat top of the road. He returns to base and has a good laugh with his friends about how Andy made the woman who wouldn't bow fall to the ground. 

The woman shows up at the base calling Andy a rascal and a scoundrel, saying that was a cheap trick.  Furious, she turns away, but almost runs into a jet taxiing out onto the air field.  He runs to her and grabs her.  Then he decided to marry her. 

Andy tells the inquisitive pilot that if he comes to his marriage, then he surely must dance.  The pilot laughs and says yes. 

Indian tanks are moving up to the border.  The radio broadcasts that Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi today asked the powerful nations not to order India to do what they wish. 

The men at Loungewala are getting tired of waiting for the war to begin. 

Mathuradas gets his leave sanctioned.  He is so happy that he is going home that he brags about it to everybody.  The Major becomes furious at him and balls him out in front of the soldiers.  He says if every man who had problems at home put in for a leave, then how would they fight this war coming up?  He screams that before he gets his pistol and shoots Mathuradas. he better start running out of here.  Mathuradas starts walking fast.

Pakistan Airforce Base somewhere in Pakistan.  December 3, 1971.  The war is on.  The Major tells his officers which posts he wants them at.  The officers carry out the orders.  The villagers are asked to grab their things and move away from the villages. 

Enemy Artillery Unit from Across the Border.  December 4, 1971.  The shells start falling on the Punjab unit.  A fellow named Massi is badly wounded.  He dies.  The artillery shells blow up all the men's quarters.  Villagers are now dying because of the shelling.  The Major and his men help the women and children get away from the villages.

Pakistani tanks move across the border into India.  And after the tanks comes a long line of soldiers.  Dharamveer calls the information into the Major, who tells the Second Lieutenant to shadow the tanks and keep him informed of their whereabouts. 

The radio broadcasts that the following towns have been bombed:  Amritsar, Pathankot, Srinagar, Avantipur and Uttarlaye in Barmer.  Andy tells his pilots that they have to attack Rahim Yaar Khan airbase.  The air raid siren sounds and Andy tells the pilots they have a red alert.  The air base is being bombed.   

Dharamveer calls in to warn the base that the brunt of the attack is headed right to Loungewala base. 

Mathuradas returns to the base.  The Major welcomes him back and tells him to get back to his recoilless rifle.

The Major calls Andy and says the Pakistanis have his base surrounded on all four sides.  The enemy has forty tanks and thousands of infantrymen.  He needs air support immediately.  Andy has to tell him he cannot give the Major any air support tonight because he only has hunter aircraft and they cannot attack at night.  The major will just have to hold onto his post until the first light of day. The Major tells the soldier next to him:  "Our testing times are here."

The Major calls his men together.  The command structure says that the Major can move his men back to another post.  But he, the Major, has the last say.  He says those who want to leave can leave.  The rest will stay with him and fight.  Everyone decides to stay and fight.  They take their positions and wait for the enemy to get real close. 

One of the tanks hits a mine and explodes in flames of fiire.  The Pakisstani leader calls halt.  They will not move through the mine field.  The Pakistani leader yells insults at the Major and vice versa.  Then the tanks open up on the Indian base.  The Indians use a recoilless rifle to knock out some of the tanks.  The Pakistani tanks make the recoilless their primary target and it is not long before they blow up the jeep holding the rifle.  Mathuradas gets his hand stuck under the body of the jeep and cannot get it out.  Bhairav Singh runs to him to help free him.  The rescuer pulls up the jeep body off of Mathuradas' hand and frees him. He then helps Mathuradas back to the trench. 

Bhairav Singh mans a machine gun but one of the parts goes bad.  Mathuradas sees a machine gun not being manned.  He goes to retrieve the spring from the machinegun, but is hit many times by Pakistani bullets.  Mathuradas is able to get the spring to Bhairav so he can fix the gun.    Mathuradas dies.  Bhairav Singh goes into shock over the death and the Major has to keep yelling at him to get to the machinegun and start firing. 

Andy is waiting for the time to take off.

Dharamveer calls in to say he and his unit are coming into the post and want some covering fire.  Out of the six or so men Dharamveer is the only one who makes it to the trenches alive and even he gets wounded in the process. 

Ratan Singh bravely picks up an artillery shell and throws it back toward the enemy.  The shell explodes in the air killing Ratan Singh.  Later Bhairav Singh gets knocked down by tank shells hitting near his position.  He recovers and picks up an anti-tank mine.  He walks with the mine toward the Pakistani line.  The Pakistani bullets hit him alright, but he keeps going.  The tank he's after tries to back up away from the man and his mine, but Bhairav has just enough energy to throw the mine under the tank track.  The tank rolls right onto the mine and the mine explodes knocking out the tank. 

Now the Pakistani leader orders a frontal attack with bayonets on the Indian positions.  A lot of Pakistani soldiers get mowed down, but they keep coming and they reach the Indian trenches.  Now it's hand to hand combat. 

Dharamveer makes a gallant stand and takes out a lof of enemy soldiers, but he in turn is gunned down.  Kuldeep goes to check on Dharamveer and finds him still alive.  He orders his men to give him covering fire.  Kuldeep drapes Dharamveer over his shoulders and walks back up the sand dune to the trenches. 

Dharamveer says that his father has come to take him.  Kuldeep tells Dharamveer to hold on for the morning will arrive in a matter of a few minutes.  Delirious, he sees his mother coming for him.  He says he hears his father calling him and tells mom not to stop him from going with father.  Dharamveer dies. 

A Pakistani soldier is still alive and he begs Kuldeep not to kill him. 

It is one hour before sunrise.  Andy tells his pilots that they are going now.

The planes take off.  In a short while they are over Loungewala Post.  The airplanes take out one tank after another.  The Pakistani soldiers start running away and the India troops cheer the results.  The tanks start running away too, but it's difficult for them to try and outrun fighter jets. Most of the tanks have been destroyed now. 

The surviving Indians dance for joy at their victory.

Back home new arrives of Dharamveer death in battle.  His intended sobs away wildly.  A song is sung that says the war lasts for a few moments, but the suffering of the loved ones for their dead go on for many years. 

The Indian army has to bury its dead.  The survivors lost many a friend in the battle. 

 

Good movie and getting near to three hours in length.  It tells the story of a small part of the Indo-Pak Border War of 1971.  A group of 120 Indian men hold just one of the border positions at the border with Pakistan.  These men face off with around 2,000 Pakistani soldiers backed my lots of tanks.  The Indians at the position have no tanks, just one recoilless rifle.  Despite the terrible odds against them, the Indian soldiers decide to hold out as long as they can.  The Indian soldiers are ready to die for Mother India.  There are several presentations of the love stories of some of the key men in the battle, which helps the audience get to know some of the men personally.  And, of course, there are love songs and patriotic songs throughout the film.  And there are a lot of action scenes during the battle.  I thought Sunny Deol (as Major Kuldeep Singh Chandpuri)was especially good in the film. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 

 


Historical Background:

 

1947  --  the Partition of India divided Punjab into two parts. The Eastern part (with two rivers) became the Indian Punjab and the Western part (three rivers) the Pakistan Punjab

1966  --  Indian Punjab divided into three parts: Punjab, Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh.

Indian Punjab is in the northwestern section of India.  Northeast of the state of Punjab is the state of  Himachal.  Just north of the Punjab is the state of Jammu &Kashmir. 

Southwest of Punjab is Rajasthan.  Southeast of Punjab is Haryana. 

The city of Amritsar is in the county of Amritsar.  Amritsar County is  in the northwest section of  Punjab.

1971 (March 26)  --  Bangladesh officially secedes from Pakistan.

1971 (December 3)   --  Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 was between India and Pakistan during the Bangladesh Liberation War. The war began with Operation Chengiz Khan, when Pakistan launched pre-emptive air strikes on 11 Indian airbases.  This lead to India's entry into the war of independence in East Pakistan on the side of Bangladeshi nationalist forces, and the commencement of hostilities with West Pakistan

The war lasted just 13 days, one of the shortest wars in history.

1971 (December 16)  --  the Eastern Command of the Pakistani Armed Forces signed the Instrument of Surrender.  This marks the liberation of the new nation of Bangladesh. East Pakistan

Between 90,000 and 93,000 members of the Pakistan Armed Forces including paramilitary personnel were taken as Prisoners of War by the Indian Army. It is estimated that between 2,000,000 and 3,000,000 civilians were killed in Bangladesh, and up to four hundred thousand women raped by the Pakistani armed forces, especially Bengali Hindus.

3,843 Indians killed in the war.  9,000 Pakistanis killed. 

During the war, the Pakistan army conducted a widespread genocide against the Bengali population of East Pakistan, aimed in particular at the minority Hindu population,

 

 

 

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