April 23, 2024
Our Thanks to Ashit Chakraborty of Thailand for sourcing the VCD for the Video Caps and Review.After a gap of many years, in 1997, a new Indian War movie was released. 'Border', a film by director J P Dutta was produced based on the battle of Longewala, set in the 1971 war. J P Dutta dedicated the film to his late brother, Sqn Ldr Deepak Dutta, who was killed in a MiG-21 crash in the eighties.  The movie had the full support and backing of the armed forces and it went on to become a big hit in the Indian subcontinent.The Opening sequence of the movie shows the take of a MiG-21 Bis from a pen, and pilots meeting after a sortie. C-2230 being the aircraft in the takeoff clip. The Pilot in the center is Actor Jackie Shroff who plays a Wing Commander sent to command Jaisalmer.

The shooting of the above sequences was at Bhuj with No.32 Squadron "The Thunderbirds", whose Eagle emblem is seen on the middle picture in the bottom row. No.32 was flying Sukhoi-7 Fitters during the 1971 India-Pakistan War.

Though the movie is primarily about the Army's role in the battle, there are plenty of sequences involving the Air Force.The story starts with a MiG-21 Bis unit (in 1971???) conducting practice scrambles. The CO played by Jackie Shroff is given the task of leading a Hunter unit from a forward airbase, Jaisalmer.

A good clipping of a Bis taking off representing the Wing Commander going off on his new mission .

Then you cut to Hunters landing at Jaislamer (Most probably it was Kalaikunda). Among the Hunters that can be identified are BA-312 , A-484 are identified in several landing scenes. All the Hunters carried the ‘Lightning’ Squadron emblem. It is believed that the Hunters were from HOFTU.

Several sequences show the Hunter landing at a forward airbase. BA-312 being the most identifiable Hunter in the entire show.

Some of the ‘action’ clips were ‘doctored’ with visual effects,  and poor ones at that. One sequence  shows a Tank getting blown up and the Hunter flying in at low level through the shower of debris. Another sequence supposedly shows a Hunter making a low-level pass forcing a lady on the runway to duck. Both scenes had some element of truth that they occurred in the Rajasthan sector, the director taking some romantic license by enclosing a woman in the scene.

The Hunter detachment taxies to their dispersal area in the “Forward Air Base” in Rajasthan.

There are also some unbelievable scenes. Where can you find a Base Commander personally towing away an aircraft , to save them from the rain of bombs during an enemy air raid? what were the poor airmen doing, besides getting bumped off, while our Base commander survives them all? One thing that really beats me is why do warmovies about IAF always ends up showing the Hero’s Girl Friend or wife right on the tarmac in the dispersal area? guess they get some special passes and privileges.

What would an IAF movie be, without the mandatory babe on the tarmac? Jackies sweetheart runs  a collision course with MiG-29 Bis C-2069
Some misc. pics of BA-312A (Far left), A-484 (Left).  The sequence below shows Hunter A-484 being towed in an ‘Air raid’. Finally an An-32 also finds a place in the movie.

The movie has some bright points, the final climax scenes has lot of Hunters discharging their front cannon at ground targets.   and plenty of Hunters landing , taxiing etc. and it will be remembered as a Hunter movie done at a time, when not many of them were around. What the film sorely lacks is Air to Air photography. All scenes were ground to air, no aerial shots are there throughout the film.

This sequence of pictures shows the final climax , where the pilots scramble to the Hunters and attack the Pakistani Tanks. Some unconvincing visual effects work shows a Hunter flying low level through the debris of a destroyed tank (Far left) , and Jackie acknowledging the gesture of Sunny Deol, the Army officer.

Border can be termed as what we in India classify as a ‘Mass’ movie. Its for the masses for whom Hunter means a brand of country beer, not a classic fighter.

Its not for the discerning viewer , and enthusiasts particular about finer details will get high blood pressure at the ‘realism’ of the action scenes. Yeah where else can you see a leading actor take a dozen bullets in his body, yet still lug an antitank mine and drop it below the track of a reversing enemy tank, all the time with the commander of the enemy tank firing bullets in our hero?

Only in Bollywood!

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