Arjun Rampal, Sonu Sood, Jackie Shroff, Harshvardhan Rane, Gurmeet Singh
J P Dutta is known to have made many war films, of which Border remains one of his more successful works. On the other hand, LOC Kargil didn’t fare well. After a long break when Dutta returns, the apprehension is obvious. We don’t know if we will once again find ourselves soaked in patriotism or we will cringe because it is all too dated.
Paltan is the story of the Rajput Battalion’s fight to save Sikkim from the Chinese infiltrators. Having lost the 1962 war to China, India is wounded but when it comes to saving our own, we will do that till our last breath. When years down the line, China once again opened fire at the Indian soldiers, the unexpected attack caught us off-guard but this time around our soldiers found their footing faster and won over Nathu La Pass. Dutta’s Rajput Battalion is headed by Lt. Col. Rai Singh (Arjun Rampal) and Major Bhishen Singh (Sonu Sood) – and under their able guidance come the rest of them.
Like in every one of his films, JP Dutta tries to give each of the soldiers their own back stories but the way he has been successful in the past, Paltan doesn’t add up so effectively. For one, the action and the military war-fare has been given more screen time than the emotional part of the stories, so automatically, the audience’s heart is not as involved in the film as it was with say a Border. Yet, there are moments you find yourself tearing up. The moments at the battlefield, you find yourself responding to the wreck war makes on people and families automatically.
Though there are many powerful moments in the film, you don’t find a single dialogue that stays with you, you acknowledge the patriotism and the fervour, automatically as a reaction to seeing your flag, the soldiers but the quality of a J P Dutta film is missing. Amongst the actors – Harshavardan Rane works wonderfully, as do Rampal and Sood. Siddhant Kapoor, Gurmeet Chaudhary do their parts sufficiently, though Chaudhary’s attempts to outshine others fail when he tries too hard.
Why Paltan fails to impress is because the film doesn’t leave you with a lasting feeling of patriotism, perhaps because the Chinese we are shown fighting look like caricatures. They are silly most of the time and any attempt to look and act mean is a complete flop. Majorly because Dutta has gathered non-actors to play most of the parts. Shame, because there was a lot of potential in this one and lack of budgets and faith have curbed it from reaching its potential.