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Bollywood's Air Force Connection

Last updated on: September 13, 2011 17:27 IST

Bollywood's Air Force Connection

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Sukanya Verma in Mumbai

If Peter Pan ever decided to grow up, he'd probably become an air force pilot. After all, J M Barrie's creation loves to fly.

Off Neverland too, there are quite a few actors enamored by men in uniform and their mid-air gallantry. Sky's the limit; like they say, ever since Tom Cruise memorably portrayed the uber cool Maverick, donning those iconic aviator glasses, in Tony Scott's Top Gun, which celebrated its 25th anniversary earlier this May.

Back home, there haven't been too many films set against the backdrop of military aviation. Yet the ones, most of them anyway, to come out have made a lingering impression.

The latest to develop wings is Shahid Kapur as Squadron leader Harrinder Singh aka Harry in father Pankaj Kapur's directorial debut, Mausam.

Among many other firsts, it also gave the fit and fabulous 30-year-old a rare opportunity to fly an M-16 jet fighter aircraft. So delightful was his experience, even with some objection from Indian Air Force over a few scenes, Shahid gushed how he would liked to become a pilot if he wasn't already a movie star.

With Mausam hitting the marquee on September 16, here's a look at the air force-themed films of Hindi cinema over the years.


Image: A scene from Mausam

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Sangam, (1964)

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In Raj Kapoor's love triangle about best friends and a mutual love interest, the showman plays Flight Lieutenant Sunder Khanna who joins the Indian Air Force to enhance his social status and marry the woman of his dreams.

Following a thrilling mid-air combat, Sunder is presumed dead and Sangam's story takes a complicated turn.

Of course, rest of the melodrama is preoccupied with sacrifices, betrayals and heartburns to concentrate on Sunder's otherwise exciting profession.

Image: Raj Kapoor and Vyjayanthimala in Sangam

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Aradhana, (1969)

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Shakti Samanta's poignant tale of a single mother's struggles and hardships won Sharmila Tagore a Best Actress trophy from Filmfare. It also marked the beginning of Rajesh Khanna's unprecedented superstardom.

As a handsome, daredevil IAF pilot, Kaka essays a double role, of both father and son. Question is which one do you prefer, with moustache or without?

Image: Sharmila Tagore and Rajesh Khanna in Aradhana

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Hindustan Ki Kasam, (1973)

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After depicting the hard-hitting patriotism of army-men in Haqeeqat, director Chetan Anand takes off among MiG-21s, Gnats and Sukhoi-7s.

His acclaimed Hindustan Ki Kasam starring Raaj Kumar, Balraj Sahni, Amjad Khan and Priya Rajvansh is set against 1971 Indo-Pak war with extensive focus on Indian and Pakistani air force amidst heavy-duty air raids and strikes.

Image: The Hindustan Ki Kasam poster

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Silsila, (1981)

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Predominantly a relationship drama, Yash Chopra's highly-publicised endeavor starring Rekha, Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan features Shashi Kapoor in an ill-fated cameo.

As a full-of-beans IAF officer and Jaya's fiance, Kapoor is effortlessly dashing in uniform but his ardour is short-lived after he loses his life in a plane crash.

Image: Shashi Kapoor and Jaya Bachchan in Silsila

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Vijeta,, (1982)

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Looks like the Silsila experience inspired Shashi Kapoor enough to cast son Kunal as a fighter pilot in his home-production, Vijeta.

The coming-of-age drama, directed by Govind Nihalani, boasts of some spectacular aircraft sequences as well as a realistic portrayal of aviation life.

The rather underrated albeit technically sleek Vijeta went on to nab three Filmfare awards for Best cinematography, sound and editing.
 

Image: A scene from Vijeta

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Border, (1997)

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J P Dutta's war epic is a cinematic reproduction of the Battle of Longewala, fought during the 1971 Indo-Pak war, featuring a huge star cast of actors like Sunny Deol, Suniel Shetty, Akshaye Khanna and Jackie Shroff.

While the rest are part of the armed forces, Shroff as Wing Commander Andy Bajwa engages in aerial warfare.

Dutta's brother, Deepak to whom he dedicated Border, was an IAF pilot and passed away in an MIG plane crash.

Image: Jackie Shroff in Border

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Andaaz, (2003)

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While some films pay tribute to the spirit and spark of Indian military, others merely use it as a plot to generate stylish action or heroic swagger. Raj Kanwar's mostly-daft Andaaz is one such example.

To Akshay Kumar's credit, the star exhibits his stud skills as flight personnel in G-suits and Air Force uniform.

Image: Akshay Kumar and Priyanka Chopra in Andaaz

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Veer-Zaara, (2004)

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According to Shakespeare and Bollywood, love is not love that alters. And so Shah Rukh Khan, as IAF guy Veer Pratap Singh, first, uses his license to fly for rescuing a Pakistani damsel-in-distress (Preity Zinta).

And then he dumps his perfectly cool job to direct his energy in creating a happily-ever after in this cross-border romance.

Needless to say, SRK's job description is a mere tactic to render him a hero-like entry and accentuate the Veer in the Zaara.

Image: Shah Rukh Khan in Veer-Zaara

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Rang De Basanti, (2006)

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He may have had a brief role in Rang De Basanti but R Madhavan's character makes all the difference to the story. His Flight Lieutenant Ajay Singh Rathod is a picture of zing and zeal.

So it's particularly tragic when he dies in an MiG-21 plane crash, wherein the Defence Minister suggests it was owing to the former's negligence when the truth is the aircraft was already faulty.

No wonder Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra's uncompromising creation wasn't well-received by the Indian Defence Ministry.


Image: R Madhavan and Soha Ali Khan in Rang De Basanti

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Agnipankh, ((2004)

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Sanjay Puri's potboiler edition of air force life found little favour among audience or critics.

Apart from form-fitting uniforms, there's nothing exact about this lackluster yarn of fighter pilots leading an aerial combat against the neighboring country.

Starring Jimmy Shergill and Shamita Shetty, Agnipankh, despite a promising premise, neither excites nor entertains.

Image: The Agnipankh poster

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