Heroes The Movie

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"Is this film anti Pakistan or anti Muslim?" I asked my DVD dealer before buying Heroes. And as an answer he held up the movie cover - displaying a picture of Sunny Deol - and replied, "What do you think?" So I was quite expecting the worst when I took it home for a viewing.

Heroes is a title that reminds one of the mutant types in TV serials or in this case, the posters of three men in uniform (one being the usual suspect Sunny Deol) indicate some serious Pakistan bashing. Sunny did, after all take up against the whole of Pakistan single handedly in LOC: Kargil and before that in Gadar: Ek Prem Katha, amongst many others. But Heroes is neither anti Pakistan nor anti Muslim.

The only reason holding it back from being either is that it doesn't suit Bollywood's interest to be anti Pakistan anymore. Gone are the days when anti Pakistan rhetoric could be exploited in films, as directors are now also looking at Pakistani audiences, which have the potential of raking in revenue.

The numbers are huge. And that is precisely why, when Sunny or Squadron Leader Vikram Shergill - who has lost both legs and a brother to war with Pakistan - is asked whether he hates the enemy, and he replies: "Nahin. Humara kaam dushamn sey nafrat karna nahin balke desh ki hifazat karna hai." Touching, but that's really not what Indian films were saying when they were spewing out one anti Pakistan film after the other with LOC: Kargil, Lakshya, Ab Tumhare Hawale Watan Saathiyo, Dhoop and Agni Path.

Kargil is an obviously favourite topic for films in Bollywood as this is perhaps the seventh film in the course.

However Heroes, is a bit confusing in picking its central theme. Despite heralding the brave discourse of three soldiers who served and lost their lives at Kargil, the film is not a war film. It does absolutely nothing to show the hardships they may have suffered at the ruthless peaks of Kargil amidst a war.

But as it runs its patriotic course, twining through the emotional existence of the families of the three deceased soldiers, while putting out what appears to be advertisement of 'why to join the Indian army', it is anything but anti-war either. In fact it encourages it. And to be fair, Heroes is promoted as a tale of three families, but their stories are weak and not at all convincing either

Heroes is a film that begins with the last letters of three different soldiers serving at Kargil. Havaldar Balkar Singh's is a love letter to his wife (Preity Zinta), Captain Dhananji Shergill writes to his brother Sonny Deol who also served in the airforce before losing his legs in combat and lastly Lt Saahil Naqvi (Dino Morea) who was the only son of Dr Naqvi (Mithun Chakraboty) who has never forgiven his dead son for risking his life by serving in the army.

Though nothing is said about their caste or creed, it is obvious by the names that the writer has picked up a Hindu, a Sikh and a Muslim to portray the secular vastness of Incredible India. He obviously couldn't have predicted that 26/11 would happen around its date of release!

The letters are handed to two students - Sameer and Ali Shah - who are on the verge of failing film school as their last chance to earn a degree. They are assigned a film and the topic they come up with is "Why not to join the army". One understands that the only conclusion to this film can be that they will want to join the army and serve the nation at the end of it.

And it sure doesn't disappoint in predictability.
Beyond its predictability, Heroes is pretty ho-hum. Sameer aka Saand (Sohail Khan) and Ali Shah aka Nawab Sahab (Vatsal Seth) have an interesting journey to undertake and they do so on a motorcycle, but one feels the director bites off more than he can chew. In what could easily have been an enigmatic tale of how the journey from Delhi to Chandigarh and then Monali to Ladakh changes their outlook on life (as in Rang De Basanti), the film goes down as their journey goes up north.

And what it does, as many other Bollywood films picking up on war themes have previously done, is deaden the nuances of war by painting over it with romance, song and dance. The great Bollywood makeover, glamorizing an essentially unglamorous theme, doesn't work and is in fact a great disservice to anyone who might be looking for some reality check regarding wars and their implication. More so, even the glamour isn't refined enough to pull one's thoughts away.

The only stake that Heroes aims to plunge in the heart of every Indian is to unearth a selfless patriotism for the country. It's that motivation that binds Preity to her dead husband's family to replace the son that they lost. Her son Jassi, who never even saw his dad, takes out his uniform each night and salutes it, promising to choose the same fate as he did.

Sunny, despite losing everything, has an unnaturally strong and aggressive existence. It's like Survivor meets the Hulk, especially in the fight sequence in which he drags himself on the club floor, stamping his fists and breaking ground (literally) as he pulverizes the village hooligans. And the third story, of Dino and his dad Mithun, is simply weak and uninspiring.

The director Samir Karnik may have been hoping to be lucky in his third film (his first two - Kyun Ho Gaya Na and Nanhe Jaisalmar flopped miserably) but despite Heroes being more watchable than the first two, it doesn't strike a jackpot in any way. It is a film to watch only for amusement value though for Indians, recoiling after the Mumbai attacks, it may be a welcome call for patriotism.

Masroor manages the SourceONE, marketing and content manager in a global marketing field. If you would like to know more about email marketing or if you are looking for service providers in this domain, please contact us at www.mahaan.net. I can give you a list and comparison of some good companies providing affordable online marketing solutions. 

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