Paltan Movie Review - A paltan not worth hanging out with

By Sonil Dedhia | Mumbai

For a story that hasn't been attempted on celluloid so far, Paltan could have been interesting. Unfortunately, it is high on desh bhakti and low on the content in the script

Paltan poster

Paltan
U/A: Drama, History, War
Director: J.P Dutta
Cast: Jackie Shroff, Arjun Rampal, Sonu Sood
Rating: 

I remember watching JP Dutta's Border (1997) at a multiplex in Mumbai. It was certainly a memorable cinematic experience, and the movie stayed with me long after it ended. In fact, even over the last 19 years, I was never bored when watching its reruns on television. I didn't mind Dutta's 2003 release LOC: Kargil, which was a mammoth four-hour film. But, Paltan, which is part of the veteran filmmaker's war trilogy, disappoints thoroughly. The magic is clearly missing.

The film is based on the 1967 Nathula pass clashes, which followed after Chinese troops tried to invade Sikkim. Having defeated the Indian army in 1962 and strategically captured Tibet, they had the upper hand. But, a determined major, General Sagat Singh (Jackie Shroff) refuses to lose the second time around.

The director brings together an ensemble cast, including Arjun Rampal, Sonu Sood, Harshvardhan Rane, Gurmeet Choudhary, Siddhanth Kapoor and Luv Sinha. We also have Sonal Chauhan, Esha Gupta, Dipika Kakar and Monica Gill who add to the misery.

For a story that hasn't been attempted on celluloid so far, Paltan could have been interesting. Unfortunately, it is high on 'desh bhakti' and low on the content in the script. Warfare is reduced to cringe-worthy dialogues like: 'Brother on my left, brother on my right; if we don't stand united, we lose the fight'. There is also a poorly executed stone-pelting sequence, and the clichéd Hindi-Chini bhai bhai slogan.

Rane emerges as Dutta's new Sunny Deol; one who can't keep from shouting. Choudhary shows some promise, and is good, in parts. Shroff, Rampal and Sood look jaded, while Kapoor is merely reduced to play a translator.

Watch the trailer here:

For action aficionados, the film offers many sequences to cherish. The final war scene deserves a mention and makes for an interesting watch. However, for the most part of the film, the personal stories of the 'Paltans' add a strain on the screenplay. The switch between such scenes and the action elements seems abrupt.

As a viewer, one doesn't feel sympathy for the Army men or their families. At 154 minutes, sitting through the film is a battle of its own kind. The only time I felt truly patriotic was when standing for the national anthem prior to the screening.

Also Read: Exclusive: Harshvardhan Rane On Paltan: Don't Know About Talent But I'm Very Persistent

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