wogma rating: Add to “To Watch” list, watch some day (?)
Even if not a "must watch", Paltan can be watched for some of its moments. Be warned though, it does drag and get repetitive.Read more
Touted as third of the director’s war films trilogy, Paltan just comes across as more of the same. Soldiers who are high on patriotism, their wives who are aptly worried and sorrowful. Interestingly, there is no sign of other family members.
The focus is clearly on the war action rather than the strategy making me lose any interest I might have had in the film. As is typical of many Indian war film, this one too stays with the patriotism and doesn’t focus much on the futility of war which other war films tend to delve into. Once that is the focus, there is little variation offered in terms performance or dialogue.
The only thing I have to say about a film that I am expecting to be a repetition of previous films in the genre is, a repetition of what I say usually – I hope I am proven wrong.
Paltan releases on 7 September, 2018.
- meeta, a part of the audience
Paltan begins and ends on powerful, intense notes. The messengers of bad news bookend a film that begins with a war that India lost and ends with a war that India won. The bad news though still stays bad. The valour of the soldiers who lost their lives in both wars is equally heartbreaking yet respectable. This sentiment comes forth strongly through Paltan. Unfortunately, it digresses, stresses on the same point way too many times and slows down to hold on to an emotion making the film lose its hold on its audience.
These things put together make Paltan a mix of awful and predictable with subtle and insightful.
You are welcomed to the film with some shoddy English dialogue splurted out with indifferent pauses by an almost indecipherable Jackie Shroff in some very disjointed scenes. Fortunately, that doesn’t stay long and you are taken to ground zero quickly enough. The stage is set nicely, the characters are introduced well and there is hope that you will see more of war strategy and less of bombardments. The rest of the film lives up to the hope. Somewhat.
The tension is rife constantly on the Indo-China border. The players constantly talk about psychological wars and strategies and you see some of it too. For instance, you see how converting a line of stones into a line of barbed wire has significance when neighbouring countries are at war. You see this line churn your heart with emotion as it turns into a line of funeral pyres too.
I was especially taken aback by how much control the war is under the soldiers’ control. Usually war films focus of decisions of the higher-ups being executed by the men on the border and there is one odd officer who takes matters in his hands. This however, is overturned here. It gave an impression that one soldier out of line could start a war and controls peace. Even more scary because it just might be true of some war somewhere in the world. It doesn’t help that this soldier is almost always frustrated by the politics of his country and the world, under constant stress anticipating war, is continuously instigated by the enemy and under peril through his time at the border. Paltan highlights these issues quite well. The film also gives an impression that soldiers are not driven just by their patriotism, but also for personal glory and to make a mark in history. This stance is also not said out loud often in films.
Unfortunately, all of this is a little too dry and functional. Just because the actors are trying to infuse bravery in each line and quotable quote they are assigned doesn’t mean the strategy displayed has too much depth. Even if there are valuable comments made in passing about other relevant issues within the border such as women safety. Ultimately the lines are lame and leave nothing for the actors to play around with. The supposedly inspiring speeches for instance instantly allow your mind to wander because you know nothing of import is going to be said here.
Equally perfunctory are the emotional scenes with the soldiers’ families clincally interspersed with the ones at the border. The second half especially slows down due to these and those that try to throw light on the sentimental side of the macho men. While they are important and could have worked really well in humanising the army men, they are stretched out and don’t leave an impression. Some of them are more than wanting in their performances. Often times, the film comes across as a stage play.
Despite the many typical tropes, where the families ask the men leaving for the border to either not take unnecessary risks or not hesitate before giving their life away for the motherland and where soldiers give each other pep talks, Paltan has a few things that work for it. For one, it is not overly nationalistic in its tone. It comes across as a story of people who believe in something together. It does manage to portray the two countries as fight siblings' who quibble over who started the fight. It slyly shows the army being provided with malfunctioning guns and using the enemy’s guns. These things put together make Paltan a mix of awful and predictable with subtle and insightful.
- meeta, a part of the audience
Thumbs up, by Hiren Kotwani, DNA : ...Art directors Amrish Patange and Dayanidhi Patturajan have done a good job of convincingly recreating Nathu La of 1967 in Ladakh. Cinematographers Shailesh Awasthhi and Nigam Bomzan have beautifully captured the rocky terrain surrounded b snow-peaked mountains... full review
So-So, by Bobby Sing, Bobby Talks Cinema.com : ...In the end, if not as an energized, spirit-booster, PALTAN can surely be seen as an informative film remembering the past, saluting the martyrs and the soldiers safeguarding our freedom at the borders. So even if not in the theaters, do try to catch it with minimum expectations, when it soon gets released on the online portals.... full review
So-So, Bollywood Hungama : ...On the whole, PALTAN not only enlightens viewers about a lost chapter in history but also entertains viewers while doing so. Though the buzz is limited, a good word of mouth can definitely help the film.... full review
So-So, by Devesh Sharma, Filmfare : ...All-in-all, the film might be a little melodramatic at times but its heart certainly is in the right place. We need to tell more such stories about small and big victories to boost the morale of our overworked troops...... full review
So-So, by Ronak Kotecha, Times of India : ...However, Paltan manages to undo some of the damage in its final moments that are truly action packed. Director JP Dutta fires all his ammo in a rousing climax for a bitter sweet victory.... full review
Thumbs down, by Ankita Chaurasia, Bollywood Life : ...Even for those with a taste for history, Paltan will prove to be a drab affair. Watch this only if you are in for some chest-thumping patriotism.Even for those with a taste for history, Paltan will prove to be a drab affair. Watch this only if you are in for some chest-thumping patriotism.Even for those with a taste for history, Paltan will prove to be a drab affair. Watch this only if you are in for some chest-thumping patriotism.... full review
Thumbs down, Deccan Chronicle : ...Overall though, this film can be quite enjoyable if not taking seriously and is instead treated like the 80’s action flick. However, looking at today’s changed audience, Dutta has lost the chance of making a great film.... full review
Thumbs down, by Anupama Chopra, Film Companion : ...But it’s too little, too late. Paltan is leaden and one-dimensional. Incidentally, the word Paltan is repeated dozens of times, just in case you forget which movie you are watching.... full review
Thumbs down, by Manjusha Radhakrishnan, Gulf News : ...Paltan is a dangerously bland film with limited action. Watch this if only if you are a fan of conflict-driven films, otherwise the casualty could be your patience.... full review
Thumbs down, by Raja Sen, Hindustan Times : ...It is clear Dutta has nothing new to say after his 1997 hit, Border, which took a few stars and made them look good in uniform. For the record, I’d still gladly salute and take orders from Shroff, a relic of the old film who is largely wasted here. There is a lot to be said about the futility of war, and now Dutta has made his case for the futility of the war movie.... full review
Thumbs down, indian express : ...while Paltan is not likely to set off any storm on China’s expanding horizon, or settle the Sino-India border debate, Beijing may take delight in one thing. The Indian battalion at Nathu La has all of one person who can speak Chinese, as others struggle with the various regional accents they are ascribed. The Chinese side has several who know Hindi, including the Commissar, who keeps mourning for “Mao ki pavitra dharti”, and saying India has done “ullanghan of antarrashtriya seem... full review
Thumbs down, by Umesh punwani, koimoi : ...All said and done, Paltan carries a very brave story but is very shabbily told. It fails technically and hence the narration is unconvincing. Skip this and save yourself from a patriotic torture.... full review
Thumbs down, by Sonil Dedhia, MiD DAY : ...As a viewer, one doesn't feel sympathy for the Army men or their families. At 154 minutes, sitting through the film is a battle of its own kind. The only time I felt truly patriotic was when standing for the national anthem prior to the screening.... full review
Thumbs down, by Kunal Guha, Mumbai Mirror : ...A dialogue in this film goes ‘heroes don’t choose their destiny, destiny chooses them’. But if you were to pick Paltan, be rest assured, your destiny is doomed.... full review
Thumbs down, by Rajeev Masand, News18.com : ...I’m going with a generous two out of five for Paltan. It’s got a tired, recycled feel to it, and fails to hold up to Dutta’s better films.... full review
Thumbs down, by Manisha Lakhe, Now Running.com : ...After that scene, you wish fervently that the Chinese would drop a gigantic bomb on them and finish the film. They show these officers blow themselves up on grenades (spelt incorrectly in the subtitles) and their bodies remain intact. They show how Indian military waits for everyone to die before sending help... And you pray that there are no more wars in real life so JP Dutta is not inspired to trivialise the horrors of war by making such trite movies ever again.... full review
Thumbs down, by Sukanya Verma, Rediff : ...Led by someone resembling a Chinese Jabba the Hut, they are little more than standees gawking at bombastic Indian officers prophesising, 'Humari paltan itihaas rachegi' like professional orators before a dumbstruck Chinese audience.... full review
Thumbs down, by Kennith Rosario, The Hindu : ...It makes you wonder what if the filmmaker chose to end a war film silently with the images of devastation? With dead soldiers by the hundreds on both sides, who really won?... full review
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This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.
India and China are at war