Bollywood’s battle heroes

Movies & Theatre

Men in uniform have always fascinated Indian scriptwriters. Though we don’t see Akshay Kumar in uniform |for most of Holiday, he never ceases to remind us that a soldier is never off duty. Bollywood Hungama’s Subhash K Jha reports…

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Amitabh BachchanAkshaye KhannaHrithik Roshan

Here’s a salute to the leading men in Bollywood who’ve all donned a uniform …

Amitabh Bachchan in Major Saab: as the stern no-nonsense Major Jasbir Singh Rana, Big B looked every bit as formidable in uniform as General VK Singh. The trademark beard that he refused to shave off did cause a bit of a controversy. But once his performance was seen all the audience saw was a man with the steely determination to convert lazy soldiers, like Ajay Devgn’s character, into men with a mission.

Madhavan in Rang De Basanti: remember the scene in which Soha Ali Khan hears of her beloved air force officer’s death on television? It shattered all of us. Men so gallant don’t deserve to die. Madhavan cut a dashing figure. When his screen mom, Waheeda Rehman, wept to the sound of Lukka Chuppi, we wept for all the mothers who have lost their sons in battle.

Akshaye Khanna in Border: Though other actors, from Suniel Shetty and Sunny Deol to Puneet Issar and Kulbhushan Kharbanda, played soldiers in this epic war film, it was Akshaye in only his second film who wrenched hearts as the young and inexperienced jawaan who leaves his blind mother Raakhee and sweetheart Pooja Bhatt behind in the village in Punjab to fight, and die, in a battle he doesn’t understand.

Rajesh Khanna in Aradhana: arguably the most memorable soldier in a Hindi film. Rajesh striding out of that fighter plane in his introductory scene made him the first superstar of Hindi cinema.

Hrithik Roshan in Lakshya: from a vagabond and wastrel to a responsible soldier on duty fighting for his country, Hrithik made the transition look like a vivid petition for youngistan (youth) to join the army. He carried off the uniform as if he was born to wear it.

Shah Rukh Khan in Veera-Zara: as squadron leader Veer Pratap Singh, who falls for a Pakistani girl, Shah Rukh was every inch the consummate Indian soldier. Sadly, there were no battle scenes in this film. It would have been a treat for SRK fans to see him amid booming guns and exploding bombs. Instead, the director, Yash Chopra, made the soldier hero a prisoner of war. What a waste of such fantastic charisma!

Saif Ali Khan in LOC Kargil: there were 12 leading heroes in uniform in JP Dutta’s epic saga. But it was Saif who broke all the hearts. The scene in which his body is brought to Kareena Kapoor was so moving Shabana Azmi said she couldn’t stop crying. Saif’s fan Parineeti Chopra says she can’t bear to watch Saif’s character come home in a coffin.

Manoj Bajpayee in 1971: one of our most underrated war films, directed by Amrit Sagar, about prisoners of war in the Indo-Pak conflict in 1971. Bajpayee cut a very convincing figure in uniform. So did Deepak Dobriyal, Ravi Kissan and Manav Kaul.

Dharmendra in Haqeeqat: No one could carry off the army uniform with as much casual cool as Garam Dharam. As Captain Bahadur Singh during the Indo-China war Dharmendra wowed audiences and yes, there was a sizeable increase in the number of youngsters recruited into the army after the release of this film. Chetan Anand made a teary impact with the soldierly anthem Hoke Mayoos Tujhe Usne Bulaya Hoga.

Vinod Khanna in Achanak: Vinod plays a very different kind of soldier, one who is shown to fight for his country and yet is unable to contain his anger when he catches his wife having an affair. In a fit of uncontrollable rage he kills her and flees. Soldiers have never had it so hard on the battle front. –

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