About the story: LOC Kargil portrays the events of the Indian-Pakistani border conflict in the border region Kargil/Kashmir in 1999. On May 4, terrorists and mujaheddin (seemingly supported by Pakistan) crossed the line of border (LOC) and tried to occupy Highway No. 1 and thus to cut off Kashmir from India, whereupon India sent its best regiments to Kargil to fight the Pakistani. The film combines extended siege and battle scenes of the soldiers (Sanjay Dutt, Ajay Devgan, Saif Ali Khan, Suniel Shetty, Sanjay Kapoor, Nagarjuna, Akshaye Khanna, Manoj Bajpai, Abhishek Bachchan and others – all of them playing historical characters) with memories of their beloved ones (Raveena Tandon, Kareena Kapoor, Rani Mukherjee, Mahima Chaudhary, Esha Deol, Isha Koppikar, Namrata Shirodkar, Preeti Jhangiani and others) who, hoping and trembling, are waiting for them at home...
Oh. My. God. What a pathetic effort. Hadn’t I set out to watch every Sanjay Dutt film I can get from the beginning till the end, I would have capitulated here at the latest after 90 minutes. I surely respect JP Dutta’s honorable concern to raise a memorial in the honour of the soldiers who fought and died during the Indian-Pakistani border conflict in 1999, but with this film he did them a bad service for, with all due respect, who wants to watch for more than four hours endless sieges and battles, only sometimes interrupted by the memories of the loved ones far away at home? LOC Kargil is an oversized documentary feature, and the difference to usual documentaries is that the scenes are not played by no-names but by Hindi Cinema’s nearly complete actor elite who obviously considered it an honour to be part of this patriotic epic – by the way, did really no one of them mind the film’s anti-Pakistani tone, and this in a time when the Indian film industry finally started to strike more conciliable tones towards the neighbour in the north?
If at least a good role for Sanjay had compensated me for the four torturing long hours! But again I had to realise that Sanjay’s name at the top of the cast list is usually a tribute to his state as senior actor and doesn’t automatically implicate that he plays an outstanding part; in this case other actors like Ajay, Saif, Manoj and Abhi IMHO had more to do than Sanju. All the fan of Dutt jr can get from this film are a few close-ups showing Sanju at his emotional best and the short and forceful scene towards the end when Sanjay as Lt. Col. Y.K. Joshi, aka Joe, calls back his soldiers who want to follow some escaping Pakistanis over the LOC – God, I never heard Sanjay yelling like this. Here at the latest you understand why he was casted for this role for this man simply has an authority which is stronger than every revenge fury. Insofar Sanju actually was outstanding in LOC Kargil – except Amitabh Bachchan I know no other actor with the same natural authority on screen.
I suppose you have to be Indian patriot, soldier or historian to be able to make use of this epic. As I am neither nor, I had my problems – especially when one battle looks like the other and you as an outsider, in spite of pernickety naming of the regiments and posts, inevitably lose the track. Without all the well-known actor faces it would even be difficult to keep apart the most important soldiers. And war films are not my cup of tea in any case. Without Sanju even the whole big star cast would not have been able to seduce me to buy this film at all. LOC Kargil will remain on my shelf as a part of my Sanjay Dutt film collection – but I doubt that I will make a revisit of this movie.
Produced and directed by JP Dutta
244 Min.; DVD: Eros Collector’s DVD (2 DVD set with tie-in book), English Subtitles (including songs)