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October 25, 2001

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'LoC will be larger than Border'

Subhash K Jha

JP Dutta One of the most eagerly awaited projects of the year, JP Dutta's war epic LoC, goes on the floors towards the end of November.

Based on the 1999 Kargil war between India and intruders from Pakistan, of the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir, shooting for the film is to begin at Simla in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh.

Says Dutta: "The hinterland had to match the Kashmir Valley. Since I could not shoot there, I selected Simla, which is the best substitute."

The entire cast -- some 30 actors, including Sunjay Dutt, Ajay Devgan, Abhishek Bachchan, Nagarjuna, Manoj Bajpai and Himanshu Malik -- has been asked to get ready for the first schedule in Simla, to be followed by the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir.

The cast and crew of LoC Dutta is touched by the solidarity and spirit displayed by the cast. "Almost everyone turned up for the mahurat(launch). I see that fighting spirit in the eyes of all my actors from Sunjay Dutt to Himanshu Malik."

The main action sequences recreating the horror and pathos of the Kargil war will be shot at Leh in Ladakh in the coming summer.

Says Dutta: "I will begin to shoot (the war scenes) as soon as winter recedes in March. Hopefully by June or July I will wrap up my war scenes. By then my principal shooting will be over."

Dutta began researching the Kargil war and trying to get permission to shoot in sensitive areas from February. "I thought with Border behind me it would be easier. But nothing changes in this country," he says with a laugh.

Dutta's previous film based on the 1971 India-Pakistan war, Border, was a blockbuster. His new project LoC is in fact subtitled Border 2.

The emotional, physical and financial resources required to recreate the Kargil war boggles the mind. "That is right, this film will be far larger than Border in every sense," says the producer-director. "But I am determined to produce the film entirely on my own so that I am not answerable to anyone."

Besides the three main outdoor locations, Dutta will also be taking each one of his actors to the native places of his war heroes. "Even if it is for just a few shots I will be taking each of my actors to their place of origin," he says.

Border The war sequences alone would require tremendous labour and finances since Dutta wants no special effects. "I want to make this film as raw, real gut-level and documentary-like as possible," he says.

"While I was researching on the Kargil tragedy I came across startling facts. Do you know we lost 462 of our soldiers in the war? Ninety-one were shot point blank in their eyes. Thousands were severely injured and mutilated. They could have easily revolted but they fought on."

Obviously enthused by the idea of making what promises to be the biggest war epic of all time in India that will outdo his own earlier war films Border and Refugee, Dutta heads out of this city shortly to write the screenplay.

"Bombay just kills me. The pollution makes me ill. I have tried almost every remedy. Nothing works. But the minute I move even 20 km away from Bombay, I am fine."

Dutta, who turned 51 earlier this month, hopes he can get at least a part of his ideas on the Kargil war across. "Even if I get 60 per cent of my ideas on screen I will be a happy man," he says.

Indo-Asian News Service

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