Bollywood romance with men in uniform continues

By Priyanka Khanna

New Delhi, Mar 30 (IANS) Powerful fables of valour and courage of the Indian armed forces have always made for a good script for the Hindi film industry in war times. But the men in uniform seem to be hot favourites even in peacetime and the latest to hit the marquee is "Shaurya".

Releasing Friday "Shaurya", which is journalist-turned-director Samar Khan's second directorial venture, is the latest motion picture based on the life of army men, but not set in the backdrop of a war scene.

In the run-up to the release, the makers of "Shaurya" have been particular to break the perception that army life is just about blazing guns and hurling bombs.

Hollywood has churned out its fair share of army courtroom dramas with some like "A Few Good Men" serving as eye openers. In India, "Shaurya" would probably be the first time when army's own systems of delivering justice have been served up in a pot-boiler.

The Indian film industry has for long treated the armed forces as a 'holy cow'. Even the Indian judiciary stays out of the path of the Army's own system of delivery justice. "Shaurya" surely stands out in this regard.

It comes on the heel of "Yahaan", a romance between a soldier and a Kashimiri girl, and "Rang De Basanti" that was inspired by news reports alleging nexus between arms dealers and politicians.

Serving in one of the world's largest military institution has its own set of challenges and requires sacrifices to be made to safeguard its glorious tradition even when guns are silent.

The film's synopsis state "Shaurya" is "a story of justice, honour, faith and above all believing in yourself. A story of finding courage within... where friendships are tested in the battle which maters the most... the battle for truth and justice."

"Shaurya" has a court martial forming the major part of the film's narrative where an Army Officer (Deepak Dobriyal) is being charged with mutiny, treason and killing a fellow officer. How the court martial proceeds and two Army lawyers (Rahul Bose, Javed Jaffrey), who also happen to be best friends, fight the case, is what the film is about.

The film also stars Kay Kay Menon looking very suave as a senior army officer. The female leads are Seema Biswas and Minissha Lamba. The film marks debut of Rozza Catalano. The music is by Adnan Sami and lyrics by Javed Akhtar. Just like his last film, Khan has roped in Bolywood star Shah Rukh Khan to play a narrator. The film marks the entry of Moser Baer, known more as CD-makers, in the filmmaking business.

It remains to be seen whether making movies on armymen would make commercial sense. Recent films based on Army like "Lakshya" and "1971" had not exactly set the box-office on fire.

"The reason some of the recent war films did not make it big at the box-office was that a major section of audience were sick and tired of watching India and Pakistan at war and all the jingoism that went with such films," clarifies a trade analyst, adding that audience still love to watch armed forces personnel on the big screen as they personify sentiments like honour, valour and sacrifice for the nation.

It is surprising then when news reports said that the Indian Air Force could not find any actor, producer or director to make a film on the occasion of its diamond jubilee. They had approached Aamir Khan but were told he was too busy.

Film-maker Govind Nihalani, who made "Vijeta" in 1982 when the Indian Air Force celebrated its golden jubilee, says, "There are a lot of stories of valour and commitment that can be told, but India doesn't really have any recent history that needs to be told to the world through cinema. We have to depend on the past, and whatever has happened in the recent past has already been made into films. So, there is nothing new to say."

Clearly, filmmakers like Samar Khan do not think so.

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