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On Kargil Diwas, J P Dutta On His Film LOC Kargil



At  4 Hours 15 Minutes, J P Dutta’s LOC Kargil was the lengthiest Hindi film since Raj Kapoor’s Mera Naam Joker.

“That’s because we  wanted to tell the story of the Kargil heroes.We weren’t making a commercial film with item songs and a measured entertainment  quotient. LOC Kargil was as long as  it had to be. Unfortunately film exhibitors played  God with the  film cutting it down to size in smaller centres like Patna,” recalls J P Dutta.

After recreating the battle of Longewala in Border  and dealing with the theme of cross-border romance in Refugee JP   directed his most ambitious film LOC Kargil. . Much of the film was shot in  Ladakh and Leh.  Shimla masqueraded as Kashmir.

J P  didn’t feel  his film affected cros-border relations. “During the Kargil conflict, we suffered far graver losses, since we were the ones trying to evict the infiltrators. But the fact is, their boys also showed exemplary courage.All my three war films are based on an old saying, ‘When two kings fight, it’s the grass that suffers.’ The grass and the people at the grassroots  are the primary casualties of war. At least in the old days, the kings died with dignity on the battlefield. Now, the new kings run away to open Swiss bank accounts.”

In his war trilogy  JP  focused  on  the human aspect.  “As in Border and Refugee, in LoC Kargil  I dealt with the human spirit, not with war-time rhetoric. Flight Lieutenant Nachiketa is a very important character in my film. He was captured by the enemy and spent about fifteen days with them before he was handed back to us.  I went  and met the families of the soldiers, the commanding officers and everyone who made any difference in the Kargil conflict.”

The research took JP  more than a year. “The fact is, we were completely ill-prepared for the Kargil war. There was no intelligence feedback. So our soldiers had no idea about the size of the enemy forces. The heights, compounded by breathing problems, made the whole Kargil trek like a walk through a dark tunnel. Our soldiers were sitting ducks for the Pakistani soldiers.”

JP says  there should  never be war among countries. “Every war makes all the participants poorer. History has taught us to avert war.  But  even if I have to depict anti-war sentiments, I have to recreate the war graphically. Even Hollywood films like Saving Private Ryan and The Thin Red Line evoked a sense of repulsion by vividly recreating World War II.”

JP confesses he is  not a very techno-savvy director. “I cannot generate battle scenes from the computer as shown in films like Black Hawk Dawn or The Thin Red Line. I believe in creating gut-level reality. That’s what I’ve done in all my films. I wanted LoC to be as close to reality as possible. Kargil is a story that had to be told. What it  says is that our soldiers had the option of crossing the Line of Control. But they didn’t, at the expense of their limbs and lives. This truth had to be made known in the international community.”

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