The 1997 war film, Border, featuring an iconic cast including the likes of Sunny Deol, Suniel Shetty, Jackie Shroff and Akshaye Khanna, is considered one of the best war films ever made in India till date. It’s director, JP Dutta, reinvented the war genre and the representation of the military in the Hindi film industry with the film.
He followed the impressive military portrayal in Border with films like LOC Kargil and Paltan and his contribution towards the representation of the army on screen would always be remembered fondly in Hindi cinema’s history. So, to commemorate and recognise that, JP Dutta was recently presented with the Indian Armed Forces’ remembrance flower.
The filmmaker, who celebrated his 73rd birthday recently, has become the first civilian to be presented with the Indian’s Armed Forces’ Remembrance Flower—the Marigold. The Union ministry of Defence had taken up the proposal, put forward by the three chiefs of India’s armed services back in 2017, to adopt marigold as the flower of remembrance of martyred soldiers. Marigold was chosen as the flower of remembrance as it has a rich resonance in India’s cultural and social life, and is found abundantly in the country.
In the ceremony held on October 9 and 10 in Delhi, the armed forces celebrated 50 years of India’s victory in the 1971 war against Pakistan. At the event, Dutta’s milestone film, Border, was a part of the discussions that were held in the two-day ceremony. Talking about it, Lt Gen PJS Pannu, former Deputy Chief, IDS, says, “We have been working towards symbolising the spirit of Indian soldiers through the symbol of the Indian Marigold, as proposed by renowned Maj Gen Ian Cardozo. This year the festival is choosing to present the Marigold Flower to JP Dutta in recognition of his work to honour our soldiers by immortalising their stories on celluloid.”
Lt Gen Pannu goes on to add that even though the nation is commemorating 50 years of the 1971 war this year, it was a great victory that was largely unknown to the younger generation. “JP Dutta’s Border hit the chord among the young impressionable minds that set a wave of nationalism. The military heroes were brought to the big screen. The story was extremely powerful that carried a message. Many youngsters like Vikram Batra and Vijayan Thapar joined the military services. The wave was once again built with his movie, LOC Kargil. I have met Dutta saheb only on frontline with cameras, accompanied by his daughter Nidhi. Today Border is synonymous with the sacrifices of our heroes. It is a true ode to over 27000 Indian military brave hearts who laid down their lives fighting for the country and is also a significant contribution by Bollywood in raising the national spirit,” he says.
Filmmaker JP Dutta, whose own brother Deepak Dutta participated in the 1971 war from the Air Force, says, “I’m honoured to be chosen as the first civilian to be presented with the remembrance flower by the Indian Armed Forces. It makes me feel like I’ve done right by our boys that have laid down their lives for our better tomorrow. Fifty years of 1971… I look back and memories come rushing back of my mother sitting near the radio in our home through the nights waiting to hear a word of what was happening in the war, because my younger brother was out there, flying a MIG, fighting the enemy and protecting our motherland. So many mothers must have done the same and so many are still doing it. I hope the work I’ve done has made those mothers proud and at times like this, when I’m felicitated, I hope wherever they are, my mother and father are proud too.”