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Syed Firdaus Ashraf

I was dying of thirst and hunger in Kargil. For a second I thought, 'Will Indians ever remember the sacrifice made by my boys'?" recalled Colonel Lalit Rai.

"I wondered what our countrymen would think of me if I died right then. Four years later, when I see all of you applaud the bravery of our soldiers, I am proud to be part of the Indian Army. Our countrymen have not forgotten the sacrifice of our soldiers," Colonel Rai said at the music launch of J P Dutta’s LoC Kargil at Hotel J W Marriott in Mumbai’s suburban Juhu.

"I started shooting two years ago. I am happy it has been completed," said Dutta, who earlier helmed the war epic Border.

LoC Kargil features 26 Bollywood heroes and 11 heroines. Its runtime is four hours, unheard of in recent times.

A recap: The Kargil war began in April 1999 after Pakistani infiltrators captured some Indian territory in Jammu & Kashmir. The Indian Army fought for four months to drive out the infiltrators who had taken up positions on the hills. The army lost 449 soldiers in the process.

Dutta said, "I was deeply moved when the Kargil war happened. After our victory, I felt this was the right subject for a film. I must do it. I have attempted to make Indians remember the greatness of the armymen who risk their lives so that we can live a peaceful life in our cities and villages."

Dutta invited his crew on stage, including special invitees like Colonel Y K Joshi, Colonel Kushal Thakur, and Colonel Lalit Rai -- all soldiers from the Kargil war.

  Click on thumbnails for bigger picture


  Actors Sanjay Dutt, Saif Ali Khan, Abhishek Bachchan, Manoj Bajpai, Ashutosh Rana, Sudesh Berry and Puru Raaj Kumar and leading ladies Rani Mukerji, Kareena Kapoor, Esha Deol, Preeti Jhangiani and Divya Dutta attended the event.

Ajay Devgan, Akshaye Khanna, Nagarjuna, Raveena Tandon, and Mahima Chaudhary did not show up.

Decorated with bunkers, nets, and fake guns, the Marriott’s auditorium was transformed into a battleground to give a feel of LoC’s theme. The actors too were dressed in military fatigues. Noteworthy was the display of collages and stills from the making of the movie.

The event attracted celebrities like Jaya Bachchan, Hema Malini, actor-MP Sunil Dutt and Shiv Sena working president Uddhav Thackeray.

"I always wanted to make films on war heroes, but could never manage to get so many actors together," Sunil Dutt remarked. "I don’t understand how Dutta manages to convince so many actors to work for him!"

The promos on the big screens featured Sanjay Dutt launching a verbal attack on the infiltrators.

"Yeh **** ko baahar nikal kar phenkna hai, [We must throw these **** out]," yells Dutt to his fellow soldiers. "Aagewalon ko peechewale sambhalenge, aur hum sab ko uparwala sambhalega. [The soldiers ahead can count on us for support. God is with us]."

This high-voltage outburst is followed by emotionally charged cries of 'Durga Maata ki Jai [Hail, Mother Durga]."

The next sequence shows army trucks moving to the Ladakh region. Next, the Bofors howitzers move in. There is firing from the hills by the infiltrators. A bullet hits a jawan's eye. Akshaye Khanna rushes to get a stretcher for the injured jawan.

"There were nearly 99 jawans who were shot in the eye by the enemies," explained Dutta.

"When we shot the film," said Manoj Bajpai, "only 60 per cent oxygen was available, as we were 14,000 feet above sea level. It was an extremely difficult condition [to shoot]. I told my co-stars we are perspiring only to shoot the film, while our jawans fought without caring for their lives."

Anu Malik, music composer for Dutta’s last two films [Border, Refugee] and now LoC, remarked, "While I was dining at restaurants and meeting my friends in 1999, our soldiers were giving their lives for the country. They were doing that so I could lead my life peacefully over here. I salute their courage and bravery."

Photo: Jewella C Miranda
Design: Uday Kuckian

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