Tango Charlie (2005)
Director: Mani Shankar.
Starring: Ajay Devgn (Havaldar Mohammed Ali / Mike Alpha), Bobby Deol (Sepoy Tarun Chauhan / Tango Charlie), Sanjay Dutt (Squadron Leader Vikram Rathore), Sunil Shetty (Flight Lieutnant Shezad Khan), Tanisha (Lachchi Narayan), Nandana Sen (Shyamoli), Sudesh Berry (BSF Soldier), Shahbaaz Khan, Vishal Thakkar, Kelly Dorji (Bodo militant leader), Vivek Shaq (Tarun's friend), Sanjay Mishra.
Indian soldiers fighting against various terrorists
Squadron leader Vikram Rathore and helicopter pilot Shehzaad are flying over the north-eastern border of India. They are warned that the enemy has stinger missiles. Shehzaad says that the enemy will have up to 200 bunkers in these mountains that are some thousand miles long. Vikram says they blasted a MIG 27 not far from here, and they captured the pilot.
As they reach their target area they see a lot of dead bodies in the snow. Now the helicopter is ordered to come back because it isn't safe to stay over the area for a long time.
On their way back they spot an Indian soldier waving his hand to get their attention. Disobeying orders, they land and go over to the wounded soldier. They put him in the chopper and start to return to base. They look through his papers and discover that his name is Tarun Chauhan, Tango Charlie. 101 Battalion, BSF. Shehzaad finds the soldier's diary. The first entry is Manipur Jungle, 10th September. Tarun writes that he killed a person for the first time in his life.
Flashback. North-East Frontier. 6 km north of here Tarun has to join constable Muhammad Ali's section platoon. There are terrorist Bodos here. [The Bodos (pronounced BORO) are an ethnic and linguistic aboriginal group of the Brahmaputra valley in northeast India. The center of the Bodo area is Udalguri and Kokrajhar of Assam. These people have fought for their independence beginning in the 1930s and the struggle still continues.]
Tarun finds the jungle very dense with vegetation. He admires the beauty of the jungle. Tarun falls victim to a bobby-trap and finds himself up in the air with a rope around his right ankle. Lukily for him, it's a trap set by friendlies. The platoon commander comes out and calls Tarun a fool for being so easily captured. Muhammad says he caught 13 Bodos in his booby-traps.
Now Tarun meets Jail Singh and another soldier. They walk to the encampment area. Tarun is informed that he will cook for eleven soldiers. Soldier Bhiku takes him around and introduces him to other soldiers: Freddy, Solanki, Josef and Faiz. Then he meets Dixit. Tarun learns that he is a replacement for Jaspal, who was killed.
Tarun goes on a combing expedition with his new buddies. They search around through the day and night. Their goal is to find the Bodos and kill them.
A Bodo group of soldiers kills the villagers and burn the village. Later, the Indian soldiers find the slaughtered village. Tarun is very upset at the sight and smell of the dead bodies. Muhammad explains that there are enemies all around northern India. In Kashmir there are all kinds of terrorists. Then there's Pakistan. And they had to fight China three times. Sir Lanka is down below -- the ones that killed Rajiv Gandhi. Then there are the Naxalites, Ranvir Sena and Maoists. And to the farthest northeast point of India is Manipur, where they are. And in Manipur there are the Bodo, Miso and Ulfa. They get help from China. There are fights everyday.
Everybody has a code name. Tarun is given the name of Tango Charlie. Muhammad's code name is Mike Alpha.
Tarun stays behind in the encampment. The others go out searching. A group of four chase down a man running in the forest and shoot him. When they come to examine the man and it turns out to be Jaspal, the man thought to have been killed by the enemy. The men grieve for Jaspal. Then the Bodo open fire on the soldiers, killing all of them. Muhammad and two other soldiers rush to the sound of the gun fire, but they arrive too late to help any of their buddies.
At the encampment, a guard goes down with an arrow in his back. Tarun makes his escape from the encampment. The Bodo chase after Tarun. He fools a group of four and gets behind their backs. He mows them down with his automatic weapon.
Tarun is then captured by the larger group. The leader is about to kill Tarun, when Muhammad and his two soldiers arrive and start mowing down the Bodo. Tarun starts running to his men. Muhammed kills five Bodo with his pistol.
The Bodo catch one of the Indian soldiers. They tie him to a tree, cut him across the mid-section and then shoot him twice. They leave the fellow alive so they can set a trap for the other Indian soldiers.
Muhammad arrives with his soldiers. He senses it's a trap. He tells Tarun and another soldier to stay behind and don't try to save the captive. Muhammad takes two soldiers with him to scout the area. Tarun tells the other soldier to stay put, but the man says that Viju is like a son to him and he's going to save him. He has morphine to give the man. He pushes Tarun down and runs to the captive. Of course, the soldier gets shot down with two bullets in him. He gets up and tries again, but is shot two more times.
Muhammad returns to Tarun. He now places his men right where he wants them. They wait for two hours. Viju finally dies. The soldiers stay in their positions. A Bodo comes out to check if the coast is clear. He gives the okay bird call and the rest of the outfit come out of hiding. As they are busy cutting off ears, Muhammad and his men open up on the Bodo. Only the Bodo leader and two of his men get away. Muhammad and his men chase after the Bodos. The wound one of the Bodo, but one of the Indian soldiers is also wounded. Muhammad says they will have to figure out some other way to get the leader.
Muhammad and Tarun leave the wounded soldier behind temporarily to pursue the enemy in the dark. They find the enemy and kill two sentries posted in the trees. The enemy leader and two others jump in a boat to escape across the river, but the two pursuing soldiers jump into the river and capsize the boat. Muhammad slits the throat of the enemy leader. There is one enemy soldier left alive. He is a 16 year old boy begging for mercy. They take him prisoner.
Back to the present. Vikram Rathore tells his co-pilot that they have to give a hats-off gesture to Tarun for his outstanding courage.
Flashback. Tarun goes back home. His friend and family with a musical band are there to greet him. After the party Tarun jokes around with his friends, two of which got married in Tarun's absence. They ask Tarun why doesn't he get married? Tarun says he's ready to marry, but his friends have to bring him the best looking woman in the village. Uncle comes along and the guys tells him that Tarun wants to marry the physician's daughter, Lachhi.
It's arranged. The two families get together and Lachhi meets Tarun. The two people like each other so Lachhi's fathers says he will set the date for the engagement. Lachhi is a computer engineer. The families get into a little dispute because Lachhi's father won't give any dowry. Lachhi and Tarun get into a little tiff over women's equality. So they decide to have a contest to determine who is the better marksman. The contest turns out to be a computerized game of shooting against an opponent. In the contest Tarun's character is killed. They try again and Lachhi wins again.
Tarun and Lachhi get to talk to each other in private. She loves to tease him. Tarun talks about marriage and how he loves her, but she wants them first to be friends and have some fun. She starts teasing him again.
Just when things are going so well for Tarun, he gets a letter sending him back on border patrol. He has to go fight the Naxalites [a member of any of the Communist guerrilla groups in India, mostly associated with the Communist Party of India (Maoist)]. And now he has to tell Lachhi goodbye for awhile. Her eyes water up with tears.
The northern area is full of stones. The people are very poor. "And terrorists come wherever there is poverty." In a jeep and trucks the soldiers and Tarun move up to the front lines. They, however, run into an ambush. The jeep is blown up and then one of the trucks. Many soldiers are killed. Then the enemy opens up on the remaining trucks. More of the men are killed. It looks like it's going to be a complete massacre. Muhammad Ali and Tarun are two of the handful of men still standing.
The Naxalites come down to finish off the rest of the troops, but Muhammad and his handful of men kill everyone of the enemy, except the woman. One of the soldiers started to rape her, Tarun got the man off her, she shot herself in the chest, Tarun is attacked by the soldier and Tarun ends up killing the rapist. Now he has to explain this to Muhammad. Muhammad believes him and says he would have done the same thing as Tarun.
Back to the present. Vikram asks his co-pilot if the woman died? Yes, she died. Now the helicopter gets into very rough weather because of a huge avalanche. They set the copter down. They carry the wounded man to a cave. They start a fire with some copter fuel. And then Shehzaad starts to read the diary again.
Flashback. Tarun asks if they are going to Gujarat? Yes. [Gujarat is a state in the western part of India, known locally as Jewel of the West with a coastline of 1,600 km (990 mi).] There is currently rioting in Gujarat. The soldiers arrive and they have to start shooting down civilian rioters. Tarun is not firing at the civilians. He is told to fire by his commander. He looks for someone with a gun and shoots at him, but another man crosses in front of the gunman and gets shot instead.
Tarun finds the address of the man he killed and goes to the funeral. Tarun draws attention to himself by being so angry over the death. Someone asks if he is a soldier? Yes. Was he active in the shooting? Yes. Tarun says he shot at another man but by mistake he shot the deceased man. The people start beating Tarun with fists and sticks. Tarun is saved by Muhammad and his pistol. Tarun recovers in a hospital.
Flasback in a flashback. Tarun knows he did something foolish, but Muhammad says he did something even more foolish than Tarun just did. It happened in West Bengal. The Naxalites were spreading in every village trying to uproot the concept of landlords. They went in disguise to Nandipur. A woman sees Muhammad posing as a cloth merchant from Calcutta. She tells her sister that the clothing merchant is coming. Sister tells her sister to send him up to her because she has some complaints about his goods. The sister tells the merchant that sister Shamuli wants to see him in her room. Muhammad says that he and his aide have come to meet the landlord. Sister insists so Muhammad goes with her to see Shamuli.
Shamuli complains that the blouse the merchant sold her is too loose on her. And it's not the modern style either. She demands that he take her measurement using a sewing tape. Muhammad is shy about taking her measurements, especially those of Shamuli's breasts. Her father comes in and asks what's this all about. Muhammad says this is all a big misunderstanding. Dad laughs and tells his daughter that this is not the clothing merchant but a soldier of the BSF. Furthermore, Muhammad and his men are here to provide protection for Shamuli's wedding.
Muhammad tells the father to postpone the wedding and come with them to Calcutta. Dad replies that the Rai Choudhury family has ruled Nandipur since the times of Wazid Ali Shah. They will not run away like cowards. If he runs away, will he ever be able to come back? The Naxalites will take all his property and his wealth. Muhammad tells him, but what will that all mean, if he and his family don't survive?
Muhammad sees that the house is teeming with spies. He informs the father. He then tells dad that if the enemy is in the house then none of their plans will work. Father asks if Muhammad has another plan? Yes, but it's best that father doesn't know it.
One of the spies lets the Naxalites in through a gate. The wedding begins. Shamuli sees a rifle butt below a man's covering and she screams. The rifleman fires his rifle at the bride, but she ducks and the bullet hits the groom. Muhammad now shoots the rifleman dead. He and his aide kill a number of the Naxalites, but the Naxalites capture the father. And next they grab the bride. The leaders say now they will try Debasish Roychoudhury. While the trial proceeds, Muhammad and his side take out the posted sentries. When Muhammad's men are all in place the order is given to fire. The main Naxalite actors are all killed or badly wounded. Muhammad's aide grabs the father to take him to safety but the judge/leader manages to shoot both men in the back. Then Muhammad's aide kills the judge/leader.
Muhammad and the bride get out of the mansion and run for their lives. The Naxalites are determined to capture them. Loud announcements are made throughout the area that the daughter of the Landlord of Nandipur is free and on the run.
The bride falls a couple of times. So now they take off all her jewelry and bury it under a banyan tree and near a snake pit. She then leads him to a safe hiding place.
The Naxalites find the hiding place. The escapees hide within the hiding place and the enemy does not find them. After the enemy have left, Muhammad tells the bride that they have to reach the river and get to Calcutta from there. The two people kiss each other.
At night Muhammad kills four of the Naxalites, followed by four more of them. But the bride is shot too. And that's how Muhammad lost his one true love.
Back to the original flashback. Lachhi sends her wedding invitation to Tarun. She is marrying some guy named Nityen. Tarun gets dressed, packs his stuff and takes off for home. He sees Lachhi's father and Tarun tells him that this marriage cannot happen. Dad doesn't know what he's talking about. So Tarun runs upstairs to Lacchi. She tells him: "I just wanted to see how much you love me." Now Tarun runs to his house to tell his father that he is getting engaged today. The ceremony takes place.
Lachhi is a tease. She takes Tarun's diary and starts reading it. Tarun is desperate to get it back. She reads about the violence of war; about his killing an innocent civilian by mistake. Tarun catches ups with her and now Lachhi understands some of the horrors that Tarun was put through. They hug each other.
The Kargil war had erupted again. [The Kargil War, also known as the Kargil conflict, was a conflict between India and Pakistan that took place between May and July 1999 in the Kargil district of Kashmir and elsewhere along the Line of Control (LOC).] The battalion was posted in the Himalayas. Tarun and some others were posted to guard a bridge. The men are disappointed because they hoped they would win some medals in some real fighting. But now they have to stay right here for months guarding a bridge. But Muhammad explains that there is only one road to Kargil and that road passes over this bridge. If the bridge is destroyed the passage is closed and their soldiers will get no supplies. He shows the men a map. He says that Gogi Pass passes from between two mountains. The natives have spotted terrorists moving through that area. In other words, it is absolutely critical that the men hold the bridge.
The men really practice their defensive moves to make sure they hold the bridge. They put up a lot of sand bags.
Tarun writes in his diary that no one is ever going to attack this bridge. Then one day an officer comes up without knowing the password. He argues with Tarun and Tarun shoots him down. Then a woman tries to kill him and he shoots her down too. Then the enemy gets the upper hand over Tarun, but Muhammad shoots one of the enemy and then Tarun takes out the other man. Now the full battle for the bridge begins. Lots of men are killed on both sides.
The enemy tries to blow up the bridge with their explosives, but the three bomb specialists are all killed by Tarun.
Muhammad is knifed several times by the enemy commander, but Muhammad manages to knock the man off the bridge. Tarun comes running up to Muhammad. He asks Muhammad's permission to pursue the few enemy left and kill everyone of them. Permission in granted.
The relief force arrives and now Muhammad collapses to his knees and dies.
Tarun kills the four men with the enemy commander, but the commander reaches his base. Tarun is up in the mountains watching the small base unit. Tarun says there must be 50 people down there.
Tarun opens fire on the base, but he's too far away. So he plants explosives around his area. Enemy troops are sent up to finish off what they think is four or five Indian soldiers. When the first wave of enemy reach the target area, Tarun explodes the explosives killing them all, except for one man. Tarun puts some explosives in a bag. Then he puts it on the one survivor. He sends the man down to the base with his message of the enemy's doom. When the guy arrives below is pushed into the Quonset hut, the guy's explosives go off killing the enemy commander and all the others. One enemy survives and shoots and wounds Tarun. Tarun then kills the man.
Tarun survives. He writes in his diary.
Back to the present. The men in the copter are trying to save Tarun's life. They land at a village that has a hospital. The doctor removes the bullet from Tarun's body and Tarun survives.
And now Tarun's whole life is gone over by the two helicopter pilots because the two men read his diary. They question him about the wisdom of a forever engagement.
"This is how Tango Charlie was saved. But thousands of soldiers die all around the world, even today. Saving them is in the hands of humanity. Tango's diary didn't let Mohammad Ali remain an unknown martyr. The government awarded him with the Ashok Chakra and brought glory to the entire army. Tango went ahead from his 'permanent engagement' and married Lachhi. Now he is in the process of turning himself modern. But his motor scooter fails him even now. Tarun still gets immersed in trying to capture his feelings in words."
"Squad Leader Vikram Rathod and Flight Lt. Shehzaad Khan continue to guard the borders in their chopper."
Pretty good war film with the Indian soldiers fighting several different terrorist enemies. They fight the Bodos, the Naxalites, rioting in Gujarat and then figh the Kargil War. We follow Tarun around to these different fighting zones. We even see him get married. The adventure starts with two helicopters finding a very badly wounded Tarun up in the mountains and watch Tarun's accomplishments through several flashbacks. The acting was good.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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