About the story: Squadron Leader Vikram Rathore (Sanjay Dutt) and Flight Lieutenant Shezad Khan (Suniel Shetty) find an unconscious and injured Indian soldier in the snowy border regions in Kashmir and take him on board of their helicopter. Khan treats the soldier’s wounds and discovers his diary from which he learns the man’s name: Sepoy Tarun Chauhan, aka "Tango Charlie" (Bobby Deol). To shorten time during their flight back, Rathore and Khan read the diary where Tarun has written down all his despair which had overcome him during military actions at different places and against different enemies, e.g. when he for the first time killed a human being or when, at riots in Gujarat, he shot a man who was not involved. Moreover, the diary also tells Tarun’s private experiences with his fiancé Lachchi (Tanisha) and a special episode in the life of his superior Havaldar Mohammed Ali, aka "Mike Alpha" (Ajay Devgan), in which beautiful Shyamuli (Nandana Sen) plays a central role...
"War is mankind’s greatest enemy." Starting his film with these words, Mani Shankar clearly states from the very beginning that Tango Charlie for him is an anti-war film. Consequently he even presents one or two Indian soldiers as dirty swines who want to rape a captured woman or, when Tarun terrified asks whether they would have to shoot at civilists in Gujarat, unaffected answer whether this would make a difference. Okay, all the other soldiers including both heroes Tarun and Mohammed are good soldiers, but so be it – Shankar reaches his aim, and that is to show that war is no glorious hallelujah but that most people die a miserable death at war - like soldier Viju who is tortured by a brutal Bodo rebel leader (Kelly Dorjee) and bleeds to death screaming with pain -, and that killing is not fun, all the more when the victims were noninvolved. When Tarun, driven by his conscience, remorsefully attends the funeral for the man he shot in Gujarat and is nearly beaten to death instead of getting the hoped-for absolution, that’s a scene which gets under your skin.
Mani Shankar imbedded all these various events from the lives of Tango Charlie and Mike Alpha into a frame story for which he could rope in his two Rudraksh protagonists Sanjay Dutt and Suniel Shetty. They had not very much more to do than to fly in a helicopter over snowy landscapes and to pull Bobby Deol through the snow. So from the point of acting, it was no challenge for them but rather a nice pastime, and obviously they had great fun doing their special appearance, all the more as they in the end even got one of the film’s best dialogues – when Tarun realizes that they have read his diary and Sanjay of all people, who as Suniel’s supremo had given him the order to do so, now with a big grin puts the blame on Suniel and even, with paternal authority, gives him an earful, preaching that it is definitely not correct to read other people’s diaries.
Nevertheless, as I said, their screentime is limited; one long scene in the beginning, two short scenes midway through the film and another short one in the end – not enough to give a recommendation just for their sake. But I definitely give it to those who want to watch a well made film which doesn’t glorify war but explores the feelings of the people who have to cope with the dread and suffering they experience in wartimes.
Produced by Nitin Manmohan; Directed by Mani Shankar
143 Min.; DVD: Spark, English Subtitles (including songs), often appearing just as they like it – mostly too late. The DVD also includes a Making Of.