IN THE LINE OF FIRE ( At The Box Office )

All the soldiers who went to Kargil five years ago returned home. Tragically, some of them made it back only in a coffin, wrapped in the Indian tricolour. LoC is the story of these heroic men and their fellow soldiers who fought and won a war but paid a price.

By Sudha Mukerjee

Published: Sun 4 Jan 2004, 1:26 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 12:38 AM


(At Plaza Cinema and other theatres in the UAE)

Based on actual events, producer-director J.P. Dutta paints a moving picture of the heroes of the Kargil War of 1999.

As the different battalions - combating not only the enemy but also harsh terrain, extreme climatic conditions and other hurdles - capture points along the Line of Control, the casualty count shoots up and there are poignant scenes galore. Whether they are the scenes with the families the men leave behind or the morale boosting pep talks of the superior officers or the gung-ho attitude of the soldiers and their courage in the face of adversity or the brutal scenes of battle, there are many moments that touch the heart.

Clearly, a lot of meticulous research and effort have gone into this venture.

Assets include effective camerawork, dramatic action sequences and stirring lyrics. Anu Malik's music adds to the ambience but does not create as much impact as his tunes for Dutta's previous films Border and Refugee. On the down side, the dialogues are notable but you wish the jingoistic bits had been shunned. The battles also appear one-sided with the opposing side reduced to a caricature. And there is more emphasis on the wives and fiancés than parents and children. A device to push up the glamour quotient in a war-ravaged setting?

Although the running time of LoC in India is four hours long, the version we get to see in the UAE is three hours and twenty minutes. No dream sequences or zooming off to Swiss locales. No thunder and lightning when the stars - a casting coup that consists of half the film industry - are introduced. Dutta is more concerned with the characters they play.

Starring in a mile long cast, the three who make the most impression are Ajay Devgan, Saif Ali Khan and Abhishek Bachchan. It helps that they have the best-defined roles and the most footage. Sanjay Dutt and Manoj Bajpai also pitch in fine efforts. The leading ladies have little to do and the two who make their presence felt are Kareena Kapoor and Rani Mukherjee. Many stars merely walk in and out. Like Nagarjuna, Amarr Upadhyay and Raveena Tandon who have minuscule roles and appear to have been discarded at the editing table.

LoC tugs at your heartstrings because the men you see on screen - cinematic liberties aside - actually exist. Or did. Some of them lived to tell the tale, many didn't. Their grieving families had to make do instead with posthumously awarded Param Vir Chakras and Maha Vir Chakras. LoC is a tribute to these brave men who made the ultimate sacrifice. And it's worth a look.

Rating: ***

Starring: Sanjay Dutt, Ajay Devgan, Saif Ali Khan etc

Music: Anu Malik

Writer, Editor, Producer & Director: J.P. Dutta

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