J P Dutta’s iconic war saga Border completed 25 years on June 13. The film is unforgettable thanks to its patriotic element, ensemble cast, compelling action sequences leading to record-breaking collections and of course, the unforgettable tear-jerker song ‘Sandese Aate Hai’.
25 Years Of Border EXCLUSIVE: “The seats of the cinema hall were BROKEN because people were jumping on them while the war was being won on screen. That’s Border for you, I guess” – J P Dutta
On the film’s silver jubilee anniversary, Bollywood Hungama exclusively spoke to J P Dutta about the film and a lot more.
It’s been 25 years since you made the film. It was reported that it took you 25 years to procure clearances to make the movie as well. Is that true?
No, it didn’t take me 25 years. It took me around 6 months and it was Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao who gave the application for permission. I still remember him writing “All cooperation must be given (to me and my team)” and the rest as they say is history!
You claimed Akshay Kumar and Ajay Devgn turned down the role of Dharmaveer (which was ultimately essayed by Akshaye Khanna). Why did they do so? Is it because you told them about your character only and not the entire script or was there some other reason?
The couple of actors I had approached had the same reason (to decline) and that was dates. And I couldn’t wait because I knew I had to start the film as it was my first film as a producer.
Have Akshay Kumar and Ajay Devgn met you later and have they ever told you that they regret turning down the script?
No, I don’t think so.
Were Sunny Deol and Suniel Shetty the original choices?
Suniel Shetty's character Bhairon Singh was killed though he is still alive. Did the real Bhairon Singh mind?
Every film that’s made on true events needs to be dramatized on some level. Border was no exception. I always make sure all the green signals are taken from the heroes or their families followed by the clearance from the Ministry of Defence.
There were reports that originally, Border was more than four hours long. Is that true?
No, it’s not true.
It took 75 days in total. Out of these 75 days, we filmed the war sequences in 63 days, amid the desert in the winters.
Did you ever visit cinema halls to see the reaction? Could you share your experience? Also, how did the viewers react to the song ‘Sandese Aate Hai’?
All I recollect is packed cinema halls. My wife and kids were very excited and as a result, we went to a few theatres (to check the reactions). I still remember the reactions when Bhairaon Singh blew up the tank. People were throwing money on the screen! Also, my distributors from Punjab and the United Kingdom told me the seats of the cinema hall were broken because people were jumping on them while the war was being won on screen. That’s Border for you, I guess!
There were reports that Border was a huge hit overseas too and that there were long queues in the UK and Canada to buy tickets. What kind of feedback did you get from overseas audiences?
I think the world over, it was just the same reaction. Even today, I get love from the audience, and it humbles me every day.
Border’s box office performance is known to all. However, footfalls-wise, it was seen by 3.70 crore people. This feat is difficult to achieve in today’s times. Your thoughts?
What matters is that out of those 3.70 crore moviegoers, there were so many boys like Captain Vikram Batra and Captain Vijayant Thapar who got inspired by the film and joined the armed forces to defend our country. For a filmmaker, there is nothing bigger. Steven Spielberg once said when he saw Lawrence Of Arabia (1962) that “It’s a miracle of a film”. The same applies to Border. It’s a miracle of a film.
A heartbreaking aspect connected to Border was the fire at the Uphaar cinema in Delhi…
It was a terrible tragedy. But it was a tragedy waiting to happen because of the technical issues with the cinema. Too many lives were lost. My heart will always stand by the families in their loss.
On a lighter note, have you ever thought of remaking Border? If yes, who do you think should be cast?
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