War films essentially mean a heavy dose of patriotism, heart-wrenching emotions and a lot of blood-shed. JP Dutta's latest film Paltan is armed with all these aspects, but still fails to make the desired impact due to the slow narration and poor screenplay.
Paltan is based on the real story of clashes between the Indian and Chinese military on the land of Nathu La along the Sikkim border in 1967 post 1962 Sino-Indian war.
With rising tension due to Chinese Army's increasing attempts to capture Sikkim by taking over Nathu La, Maj Gen Sagat Singh (Jackie Shroff) brings in Lt Col Rai Singh Yadav (Arjun Rampal) on board to tackle the situation.
He is joined by Major Bishen Singh (Sonu Sood), Capt Prithvi Singh Dagar (Gurmeet Choudhary), Major Harbhajan Singh (Harshvardhan Rane) among others to form the 'paltan'.
While the enemy nation continues their intimidating techniques on the Indian Army, the latter every time gives back them a taste of their own medicine. However, things eventually turn extremely violent, and in no time a war breaks out on the border.
Arjun Rampal as a senior Army man did his job well. Sonu Sood and Harshvardhan Rane also are okay, but Gurmeet Choudhary appears to be too fake at times. His unnaturally loud portrayal of the character is irritating at times. Jackie Shroff has limited appearance in the film. It also has Esha Gupta, Sonal Chauhan and Amrita Rao but none of the three has any substantial presence in the movie. Overall, performance wise, the movie is more or less fine.
It is the second half of Paltan that actually has some potential to keep you engaged. The movie starts to pick up pace in the second half, followed by the war sequence at the climax, which is the best part of the film. There are a couple of scenes that are touchy enough to make you feel for the tough lives of the soldiers. There are not many songs to cause distraction.
First half of the film is unnecessarily dragged with repetition of sequences. Although similar kind of incidents may repeat in real life, one does not have to include it in the film. Most of the dialogues seem to be too artificial and exaggerated. The soldiers are often seen communicating with phrases like "No guts, no glory. No legends, no story" and "The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war".
The film misses out on the emotion quotient as well. Unlike Dutta's previous war films like Border and LOC: Kargil, Paltan lacks the desired emotional connect that it should have shown between the army men and their respective families. Also, there are some silly goof-ups like some of the soldiers are shown sacrificing their lives by entering the enemy bunkers, and exploding grenades attached to their body. Although they die, but their bodies remain intact with just some blood-shed. Ideally, such explosions with grenades would tear the bodies apart.
Paltan is fine to watch once for the love of the nation and the sacrifices made by the heroes. JP Dutta's Border was a wholesome war film, but this time the director misses out on a lot of aspects. It is unnecessarily dragged, lacks the desired emotional connect, and fails to engage the way a war film is expected to do.