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Border crosses a border: army clears sequels

New Delhi, March 18: The defence ministry has cleared the proposal of Hindi film-maker J.P. Dutta for sequels to his film Border and is asking the armed forces to extend all support to the project.

Based on the Battle of Longewala in the 1971 war, Dutta’s Border is a favourite of the armed forces with every unit playing songs from the film during programmes to remember the fallen and celebrate war heroes.

Dutta, who visited the ministry last week, told The Telegraph the three films for which he had written the scripts would narrate the tales of Param Vir Chakra winners Lt Colonel Ardeshir Burzorji Tarapore, Subedar Joginder Singh Sahnan and Second Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal.

Each of the films — with working titles Border II, Border III and Border IV — is likely to cost about Rs 65 crore. They would be shot in the armoured corps’ range at Babina in Madhya Pradesh, in the firing ranges in Punjab and Rajasthan and in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh.

The defence ministry cleared the proposal after scanning the scripts and decided that it would actually support the film projects.

Asked if he was going to make jingoistic films, Dutta said “my characters talk about many things and I am not a negativist”.

Like Border which had an ensemble cast but focused mainly on the character of Major Kuldeep Singh Chandpuri (played by Sunny Deol) — a real life hero — whose company beat back an advancing column of Pakistani tanks at Longewala, the sequels are also likely to focus on figures important for the army in the wars of 1962, 1965 and 1971.

Among them are Lt Colonel Ardeshir Burzorji Tarapore of the 17th Poona Horse who was killed leading his tank squadron near Phillaur in Pakistan’s Sialkote in 1965 in what is known as the Battle of Chawinda. He would also bring out the tale of Havildar Abdul Hamid of the 4 Grenadiers who died in action in the Khem Karan sector in September 1965.

From the 1962 war, Dutta is likely to focus on Subedar Joginder Singh Sahnan, from Moga in Punjab, who manned a light machine gun against advancing Chinese columns in the Battle of Bumla (Arunachal). Sahnan was taken a prisoner of war and died of wounds.

But Dutta’s choice of Second Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal, also posthumous PVC awardee, could also focus on the futility of war. More than a decade after Arun Khetarpal, who was just a lad in 1971, was killed in the Battle of Basantar, his father, who also retired as a brigadier, visited Pakistan.

The former brigadier was warmly greeted and lavishly hosted by a brigadier of the Pakistan army. A day before the senior Khetarpal was to return, his host admitted to him that he had killed his son.

Arun Khetarpal in his Centurion tank had almost single-handedly wiped out a Pakistani squadron. In the end, he and the Pakistani officer were the only ones left in that skirmish. The Pakistani had fired first.