Sanyukta Iyer (MUMBAI MIRROR; June 13, 2017)

It was an evening of nostalgia as J P Dutta raised a toast to 20 years of his war-drama, Border on Sunday. A coffee table book was unveiled with a foreward by Nidhi, his daughter. His other daughter, Sidhi, with actress-mum Bindiya, plied guests with hand grenade-shaped cake-pops. The filmmaker announced his next war-drama, Paltan, at the bash and shared unseen stock images, bytes by the actors and archival footage from the film, which had released on June 13, 1997.

“Those were tough but emotional times and Border was possible only because so many actors and technicians came together selflessly,” reminisced Suniel Shetty, who played BSF jawan Bhairon Singh in the film and whose wife Mana has been Dutta’s rakhi-sister for the last 20 years. Dutta’s wife Bindiya recalled four-year-old Nidhi and Suniel’s three-year-old daughter Athiya playing on the sets. “I was pregnant with Sidhi and Mana had just given birth to Ahaan. The fathers were on a 62-day schedule in Bikaner, shooting war sequences,” she pointed out nostalgically.

Suniel also informed that even today, Border is screened for army officers and battalions of cadets. “They cry while watching the film, specially the songs,” he asserted.

When Dutta handed out little trophies as mementos to his cast and crew, composer Anu Malik was so overwhelmed he broke down, only to be enveloped in a hug by lyricist Javed Akhtar, who had bagged the National Award for “Sandese Aate Hain.”

Everybody missed Akshaye Khanna who was “pure raw acting energy” at the time. Pooja Bhatt, who played his lady love, raised him a cupcake online. Jackie Shroff who’d worn the uniform of Dutta’s late brother Wing Commander Andy Bajwa in the film, posed with Suniel, while Sunny Deol, memorable as Major Kuldeep Singh, sent a special video message from Manali where he is shooting his son Karan’s debut film.

Today, there is a luncheon at Dutta’s office to commemorate the other crew, who couldn’t make it to the event.
Grenade-shaped cakes at the anniversary party
Grenade-shaped cakes at the anniversary party
Sonil Dedhia (MID-DAY; June 13, 2017)

Jackie Shroff, a dashing Air Force pilot, gears up for a practice flight. He tells his colleagues, "The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war."

It takes a few shots before filmmaker JP Dutta declares, "Theek hai" into his microphone from behind a monitor, as hugs and claps ensue, marking the first shot of what would eventually become one of Indian cinema's biggest blockbusters, Border — inspired by real life events that took place during the Battle of Longewala, during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971.

The cast and crew of the ensemble war-drama, including Jackie Shroff, Suniel Shetty, Puneet Issar and Pooja Bhatt, gathered to celebrate 20 years since the film first hit screens on June 13 1997. Filmmaker Dutta hosted his friends at a South Mumbai five-star, where everyone associated with the project, among others from the fraternity, turned up.

While Jackie made a solo appearance, Suniel was accompanied by wife Mana, actress-daughter Athiya and son Ahaan. Music composer Anu Malik too turned up with his family, where Dutta's daughter Nidhi graciously welcomed guests. Lyricist Javed Akhtar along with singers Roop Kumar Rathod and Alka Yagnik were also present, while Abhishek Bachchan, who made his Bollywood debut with the filmmaker's 2000 romance-drama, Refugee, was among the last to arrive at the venue.

An emotional Dutta recalled, "I remember my friend Vinod Khanna taking me to the then Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao. I showed him my script. He read it with childlike enthusiasm and told me, 'Yeh film toh banake rehna.' He gave me all the necessary permissions and asked [concerned authorities] to expedite the process. That is how I could shoot with the real men in uniform."

Heartwarming behind-the-scenes footage had the unit reminisce about the time they spent shooting the film. Dutta felicitated them with tanks and plane-shaped toys as mementos, along with a coffee-table book replete with trivia and anecdotes from the shoot. Special cupcakes imprinted with images from the set, and cake pops in the shape of hand grenades, were served to guests.

Jackie said that Border was always destined to be successful. "From the dialogues, to the action, and even the songs, this script had all the ingredients of a great war film." Suniel added with a pithy, "I will take this film to my grave." Dutta also took the opportunity to announce his next, Paltan.

Border-themed cupcakes