Border (1997 film)

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Directed byJ. P. Dutta
Produced byJ. P. Dutta
Screenplay byJ. P. Dutta
StarringSunny Deol
Sunil Shetty
Akshaye Khanna
Jackie Shroff
Sudesh Berry
Pooja Bhatt
Kulbhushan Kharbanda
Puneet Issar
Music bySongs: Anu Malik
Score: Aadesh Shrivastava
CinematographyIshwar R. Bidri
Nirmal Jani
Edited byDeepak Wirkud, Vilas Ranade
Distributed byJ. P. Films
Release date
13 June 1997
Running time
177 minutes
Budget10 crore
Box officeest. 65.92 crore

Border is an Indian 1997 Hindi-language war drama film directed, produced and written by J. P. Dutta. Set during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, it is an adaptation of real life events that happened during the Battle of Longewala in 1971. The film stars an ensemble cast of Sunny Deol, Suniel Shetty, Akshaye Khanna, Jackie Shroff, Sudesh Berry, Puneet Issar and Kulbhushan Kharbanda. Tabu, Raakhee, Pooja Bhatt and Sharbani Mukherjee feature in supporting roles.

Border was Dutta's dream project. Dutta had began working on the film's script in September 1995 and completed it by April 1996. The film was mostly shot in Bikaner, Rajasthan with a budget of 100 million (US$1.4 million). Some parts were also filmed in Jodhpur. One of the film's songs, "Sandese Aate Hai", sung by Sonu Nigam, became one of the most popular Hindi songs. The popularity of the song led several directors to offer Nigam for singing in their film's songs. Javed Akhtar wrote the lyrics of the songs. The song "Mere Dushman Mere Bhai" was sung by Hariharan.

The film was released worldwide on 13 June 1997 with positive reviews from critics and garnered critical acclaim for its story, showing of the battle, direction, screenplay, performances and soundtrack. It opened to strong box office results, had a final domestic nett total of 394.5 million (US$5.5 million) and was declared an all time blockbuster by Box Office India. It also became the highest-grossing Hindi film of 1997 in India, but if according to worldwide, it was the second highest-grossing film of the year behind Dil To Pagal Hai. Border grossed a worldwide total of 659.2 million (US$9.2 million).

The film won several awards at different award functions. It received 11 nominations at the 43rd Filmfare Awards, including Best Film, Best Actor for Sunny Deol, Best Supporting Actor for Suniel Shetty and Akshaye Khanna, and Best Supporting Actress for Raakhee, winning four including Best Male Debut for Akshaye Khanna. It also won three National Film Awards: Best Film on National Integration, Best Lyricist for Javed Akhtar and Best Playback Singer (Male) for Hariharan.

Even today, Border is remembered for its highlights, anti-war message, scenes and performances. It is also still counted among the top 5 best films of the 1990s. On 15 August 2017, commemorating with the 70th Indian Independence Day,[1] the Indian Directorate of Film Festivals and Ministry of Defense jointly presented the Independence Day Film Festival, where the film was screened retrospectively for its continued cult classical popularity and completion of 20 years.


The film opens before the declaration of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. At a forward operating airbase, Indian Air Force Wing Commander Anand "Andy" Bajwa (Jackie Shroff), setting his stopwatch, waits for the air raid siren to go. As the siren goes, he sprints towards his MiG-21, armed, fuelled and ready for takeoff. Bajwa and his air force wingmen soon take off to an unknown airbase in Rajasthan. Once there, he is briefed by his superiors that he and his squadron are assigned to the Jaisalmer sector and have to fly the outdated and day fighter Hawker Hunter Ground attack planes (with no night vision capabilities) to support the Indian Army. He is soon joined by his brother-in-arms army Major Kuldip Singh Chandpuri (Sunny Deol) as they meet on a courier flight and speak about the possibility of the opening of the Western front in light of the East Pakistan conflict. Kuldip takes up command of a company of the 23rd Battalion Punjab Regiment, arguing the light defence being assigned to the military post of Longewala. He meets his second-in-command 2nd Lieutenant Dharamveer Bhan (Akshaye Khanna) (who happens to be the son of a 1965 Indo-Pakistani War veteran who was killed during that war) and the Company JCO Naib Subedar Mathura Das (Sudesh Berry). The company moves to a remote outpost in the deserts of Rajasthan and begin to expand the rudimentary Border Security Force (BSF) post and does the observation of the area up to the international border with Pakistan. They meet the post's BSF Assistant Commandant Bhairon Singh (Sunil Shetty), a deeply patriotic man who expresses his love for the desert.

During a night patrol, Kuldip, Dharamveer and Bhairon Singh come across a suspicious bunch of locals who turn out to be insurgents having informed the identities of the company to the Pakistani military. The trio gets into a brief firefight killing all but one of the insurgents when Dharamveer hesitates to shoot the surviving insurgent, as he has never killed anyone. Kuldip severely derides him and shoots the insurgent himself, prompting Dharamveer to vomit. A badly shaken Dharamvir is comforted by Bhairon Singh and the two reminisce about their personal lives. Dharamveer recounts how he met his fiancée Kamla (Pooja Bhatt), a lively girl from his native village whom he had fallen for and how he got his mobilization orders on the day of his engagement to Kamla. Bhairon Singh recounts his wedding night, his first night with his bride Phool Kanwar (Sharbani Mukherjee), when he was called back to post and how he bids a tearful goodbye.

The unit is joined by the charismatic Subedar Ratan Singh (Puneet Issar), a man of insatiable appetite and wit, with two 106mm jeep-mounted RCL guns to serve as an anti-armour unit. The company wireless operator picks up a spy transmitting from a nearby area and Dharamveer sets out to investigate. He ambushes the spy and kills the man, bringing the body back to the post to prove that he has overcome his fear of killing. The unit settles down to wait for the enemy as they keep track of the developing events on the radio. The Indian army starts moving forces to nearby locations preparing to attack if Pakistan tries to open the Western front. This gives hope of soon-to-come action for the men tired of the long wait in the hot and desolate desert. Naib Subedar Mathura Das is granted leave to attend to his wife (who is ailing with cancer) and children. The men receive letters with news from back home and talk among of themselves of the people they left to serve the country.

On the evening of 3 December 1971, the unit receives word that the enemy has attacked with Pakistan Air Force planes bombing multiple Indian airbases and that war has been officially declared by the Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Dharamveer Bhan and five of his soldiers are sent to patrol the border in a section; Bhairon Singh and his men are assigned to clear out the nearby villages. As Bhairon Singh is briefing the villagers on evacuation, Pakistani artillery batteries start shelling Indian positions and villages. Kuldip joins in the evacuation as heavy shelling occurs, leveling a whole village. In the meanwhile, Dharamveer and his patrol spot Pakistani tanks (Chinese Type 59s) and infantry crossing the border into India. He reports back the enemy movement to Kuldip and is ordered to secretly follow the tanks without engaging them. The artillery firing was being done to suppress the sound of the tanks. Kuldip radios for air support and speaks to Wing Com Bajwa, who tells him that there can be no air support as his base has only Hunter-Fighters (which, as mentioned above, cannot fly at night). Bajwa tells Kuldip to defend the post as long as possible and that he and his pilots would be on the battlefield at the first stroke of light. In despair, Kuldip radios his CO and explains his untenable position. He is given the option of either holding his post or retreat. He stays. Kuldip then gives the company the choice to leave the post or not, and they all prefer to stick with him and face the Pakistanis to their deaths.

As the unit digs in to face the enemy assault, Mathura returns and apologizes for deserting the men of his company. Kuldip thanks him for returning in time and assigns him to a M-40 RCL Jeep unit, promising Mathura that he will return to his family when the war is over. The post is surrounded by massed enemy armor and infantry while the shelling from across the border continues relentlessly. Kuldip manages to get the company to bury anti-tank mines around the post to prevent the tanks from barging in. Upon seeing one of his tanks being blown by one of the mines, the Pakistani commander Ghulam Dastagir hurls expletives at Kuldip addressing him by name and tells him to retreat or die. Kuldip lashes back and swears and insults Dastagir, addressing him by name. The Pakistani tanks open fire on the post and the battle begins with Kuldip ordering Mathura to destroy the tanks with his RCL units. Though the tide of the battle is improving for the Indians at first, Mathura's RCL Jeep is hit by a tank shell, wounding him and prompting Bhairon Singh to extract him from the burning jeep. Mathura is fatally wounded when he goes to extract a recoil spring for Bhairon Singh's MMG and dies in Bhairon's arms. Subedar sacrifices himself to throw away an exploding tank shell to prevent several of his men from being killed. Another tank targets Bhairon's machine gun nest and destroys it, wounding Bhairon. He charges the same tank and destroys it with an anti-tank mine, killing himself and the Pakistani soldiers inside. Dharamveer breaks through the enemy cordon and returns to post, but his entire patrol is wiped out in the process. The Pakistani commander orders a bayonet charge on the Indian position but the attack is beaten back by the Indians with Dharamveer being severely wounded. The Indians capture a Pakistani private who reveals that the Pakistani column plans to capture Jaiselmer by morning, Jodhpur by afternoon, and reach Delhi by night.

As dawn nears, the Pakistanis launch a last-ditch attempt to overrun Longewala post with their massed assault of tanks and infantry, ignoring the danger of the anti-tank mines. Kuldip, arming himself with an Anti-Tank Rocket Launcher and a bagful of grenades gathers his remaining depleted force and prepares for a suicide counter-attack on the advancing enemy. The Indians engage in vicious hand-to-hand fighting with Kuldip jumping from tank to tank lobbing grenades down the turret hatches and killing tank commanders with pistols. Dawn has broken as the fight heats up and Bajwa's Hunter squadron finally takes off from the Jaisalmer Base to aid Kudip's besieged company. The Pakistani attack breaks as tank after the tank is hit by the planes firing rockets till they retreat across the border. The battle ends as a soldier tries to tell Dharamveer Singh about the victory and realizes that he is dead. The unit is relieved as Indian tanks and artillery arrive and more air-strikes beat back enemy reinforcements. The end credits roll as the Indians launch their counter-offensive and news of the deceased reach their homes, much to their families' sorrow.



Sanjay Dutt, who was signed for the film, was later replaced by Jackie Shroff, due to the former's jail sentence. Juhi Chawla was offered Tabu's role, but declined it as she did not want to play a small role. Manisha Koirala was signed for the film, but later opted out. Shahrukh Khan Salman Khan, Aamir Khan, Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgn and Saif Ali Khan were all approached for Akshaye Khanna's role, but Salman Khan said he was not ready for the film; Aamir Khan, that he was busy with Ishq, Saif Ali Khan and Kumar declined for the unknown reasons, while Devgn declined as he does not feature in a multi-starrer. Sunil Shetty declined the first time he received the offer, but he agreed to play the role when approached again. Sanjay Kapoor and Armaan Kohli were approached for Bhairon Singh's role when Shetty declined the role the first time. Aashif Sheikh was signed for the film, but was later replaced by Sudesh Berry. J. P. Dutta originally wanted Sonali Bendre for Sapna Bedi's role, but things couldn't worked out at that time. Aamir Khan was the original choice for Dharamvir's role.

During production and filming, both the Indian Army and Air Force provided vehicles, rifles and machine guns as well as uniforms and tactics used by the Pakistani Army during the Battle of Longewala. T-55 tanks resembling Chinese origin Pakistani Type-59s, weapons of the 70's era like Bren machine guns and SLRs as well as Air Force Planes like Hawker Hunters and MiG-21s were shown. All the actors especially Sunny Deol, Sunil Shetty, Akshaye Khanna and Jackie Shroff were nostalgic and felt elated and honored to be a part of such an epic war movie. After filming completed, director Dutta said, "Border has a gigantic canvas on which I have tried to bring some real life characters alive. It was shot on actual locations in the deserts of Rajasthan. For me, Border was like fighting a war."[2]


Ceremony Category Recipient Result
45th National Film Awards Best Film on National Integration J. P. Dutta Won
Best Lyrics Javed Akhtar ("Sandese Aate Hai")
Best Male Playback Singer Hariharan ("Mere Dushman")
43rd Filmfare Awards Best Director J. P. Dutta
Best Lyricist Javed Akhtar ("Sandese Aate Hai")
Best Action Bhiku Verma and Tinu Verma
Best Debut (Male) Akshaye Khanna
Best Film J. P. Dutta Nominated
Best Actor Sunny Deol
Best Supporting Actor Akshaye Khanna
Suniel Shetty
Best Supporting Actress Raakhee
Best Music Anu Malik
Best Male Playback Singer Sonu Nigam and Roop Kumar Rathod ("Sandese Aate Hai")
3rd Star Screen Awards Best Actor Sunny Deol
Best Supporting Actor Akshaye Khanna
Suniel Shetty
Best Male Playback Singer Sonu Nigam and Roop Kumar Rathod ("Sandese Aate Hai")
Best Film J. P. Dutta Won
Best Director
Best Lyricist Javed Akhtar ("Sandese Aate Hai")


The music of the movie was composed by Anu Malik, while the lyrics were penned by Javed Akhtar. "Toh Chalun", sung by Roop Kumar Rathod became a memorable song.[3] To this day, the songs of the film are not only popular in India, but also in Pakistan.[4] Javed Akhtar won Filmfare Award for Best Lyricist, while Anu Malik was nominated for Filmfare award for his work in composing the music of this movie.

1."Humein Jab Se Mohabbat"Sonu Nigam, Alka Yagnik07:33
2."Hindustan Hindustan"Shankar Mahadevan, Sonali Rathod, Kulbhushan Kharbanda08:12
3."Sandese Aate Hain"Roop Kumar Rathod, Sonu Nigam10:19
4."Mere Dushman Mere Bhai"Hariharan10:15
5."To Chaloon"Roop Kumar Rathod08:21

Anti-war message[edit]

Border intended to make an appeal against war. Thus, the end of the movie depicted most soldiers dead and the trauma it caused to their family members.

The lyrics of song "Mere Dushman Mere Bhai" sung by Hariharan criticises war and describes its disastrous effects, with the lines "Hum Apne Apne Kheton Mein Gehoon Ki Jagah Chaanval Ki Jagah, Ye Bandookein Kyoon Botein Hain.... Jab Dono Hi Ki Galiyon Mein, Kuch Bhook Bachche Rotein Hain....!!" ("Why do we grow guns in our farms instead of wheat and rice, when children in our countries cry due to hunger....")[5]


In 2013, it was announced that Dutta would undertake sequels to Border,[6] and that Border 2 would star Sangram Singh[7] and Nafisa Ali's son Ajit Sodhi.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 70 Saal Independance_Day
  2. ^ "J P Dutta: Making BORDER was like fighting a war". 13 November 2004. Archived from the original on 13 November 2004. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  3. ^ "100 Greatest Bollywood Soundtracks Ever - Part 2 - Planet Bollywood Features".
  4. ^ Singh, Jupinderjit Here film songs, swaying grass may mean life or death, The Tribune, 28 November 2011. Retrieved 28 November 201.
  5. ^ "Lyrics of Mere Dushman mere bhai".
  6. ^ Tuteja, Joginder (25 November 2013). "Sunny Deol's BORDER 2 to go on-floors in January". Glamsham. Retrieved 13 March 2014.
  7. ^ Dasgupta, Piyali (10 September 2013). "Sangram Singh in JP Dutta's 'Border 2'". Times of India. Retrieved 15 March 2014.
  8. ^ Gupta, Priya (9 October 2013). "JP Dutta to launch Nafisa Ali's son Ajit Sodhi in 'Border 2'". Times of India. Retrieved 15 March 2014.

External links[edit]