J.P. Dutta’s Border turns 25 today, June 13. Released in 1997, this epoch film was based on the Battle of Longewala (1971). This was one of the first major engagements in the western sector during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, fought between assaulting Pakistani forces and Indian defenders at the Indian border post of Longewala, in the Thar Desert of Rajasthan.
The war drama was made on a budget of ₹10 crores (equivalent to ₹43 crores in 2020). It earned ₹65.57 crores (equivalent to ₹284 in 2020). A significant part of the story was based on the experiences of director JP Dutta’s brother, Late Squadron Leader Deepak Dutta who served in the Indian Air Force, he passed away in a Mig crash in 1987
Apart from being a stepping stone for war-based scripts in Bollywood, Border is also remembered for the epic patriotic song, Sandese Aate Hai. With lyrics by Javed Akhtar set to music scored by Anu Malik, the number has since been a regular at any patriotic event.
Here are some other nuggets about Border:
1) While filming, JP Dutta used his brother’s diary (from his IAF pilot days) as the reference point. A dedication appears at the end of the film.
2) Following the film’s release, the director received numerous death threats (from the “enemy” camp) and was assigned two armed bodyguards to be on duty at all times.
3) Sunny Deol played Kuldip Singh Chandpuri, an Indian Army officer who was hailed for his heroism and leadership in the Battle of Longewala.
4) Sanjay Dutt was the initial choice for the role of Wing Commander Andy Bajwa but had to be replaced by Jackie Shroff because he was sentenced to jail.
5) Before choosing Akshaye Khanna for the role of Lt Dharamvir, the filmmakers approached Salman Khan, Aamir Khan, Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgn, and Saif Ali Khan.
6) The role of Kuldip Singh’s wife was offered to Juhi Chawla, but she declined it because she didn’t want to play a small part. The role was eventually played by Tabu.
7) Filming for Border took place in the deserts of Bikaner (Rajasthan) where the 1971 battle took place. In addition, real soldiers participated in the filming, and real equipment, such as tanks, jeeps, and ammunition were used.
8) The movie won three National Awards and was the highest-grossing film of 1997.
9) This was the debut movie of Sharbani Mukherjee who happens to be Kajol and Rani Mukerji’s cousin.
10) With Sandese Aate Hain, Sonu Nigam got his first major break and soon everyone wanted to work with him.