H.S. Taneja’s “Border Hindustan Ka” mixes elements from virtually every successful Hindi film from the past decade. This grand epic deals with subjects as broad as youth love, traditional Indian wedding ceremonies, the India-Pakistan partition, cross-border terrorism, and the Indian army experience.
The film kicks off with a young Pakistani girl, Nargis (Priya Gill), getting news from her army general father (Dilip Tahil) that she is going to be married to Mubarak (Akshaye Khanna). Like in “Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge,” Nargis wishes to travel freely one last time before being tied down in a marriage. Off she goes to India with her grandmother (Dina Pathak).
The two of them stay in Jamail Singh’s (Dara Singh) house in India. Jaimail’s sons are both in the Indian army, but have come back home from the border to celebrate their sister’s (Mink Singh) wedding. Exactly as in in “Hum Aapke Hain Kaun,” Jaimail’s youngest son, Raj (Faisal Khan), falls in love with Nargis during the wedding festivities.
Like in “Border,” however, the young men of Jaimail’s family are called back to duty on the border. Nargis returns to Pakistan, but not before declaring her love for Raj. Aditya Pancholi plays Raj’s older brother, a high ranking officer in the army, who suspects an insidious plan by Kashmiri militants. To his convenience, however, he finds that one of the militants has a twin, separated at birth, who is a patriotic Indian. The twin goes undercover and discovers plans for a joint army-terrorist attack from Pakistan. A major battle is about to begin!
Meanwhile, Nargis’ father finds out about her love affair, and goes to great lengths to ensure that Raj is killed in the upcoming battle. He tries to force her to marry Mubarak. But Mubarak turns out to be a lot like Ajay Devgan’s character from “Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam!” He rushes out of the wedding ceremony with Nargis and promises to take her to Raj. Then, like in “Gadar,” the entire Pakistani army is sent after Mubarak and Nargis to stop them.
Will the Indian forces be able to prevail over the evil terrorists? Will Raj survive the specific attacks on his life? Will Nargis be forced to marry Mubarak? Or will Mubarak succeed in reuniting the lovers on the battlefield? To find the answers to these questions, one must sit through one of the most unapologetically derivative and bland films of all time.
Not only are all of the plot lines in the film underdeveloped, they also feature some of the wildest, most illogical twists ever witnessed on film. The espionage track with the twin going undercover and the caricature-like terrorists seems more like it belongs in a comedy than anything else. Even the romantic track, the core of the film, is laughable. Raj and Nargis fall in love at first sight just by looking into each others eyes for a good five minutes or so while a corny dholak tune booms in the background. And the army scenes are pretty funny too, especially when the entire brigade busts out a couple of “Saturday Night Fever”-inspired disco moves during the track “Hum Hind Ke Veer Sipahi Hain.” At no point are you actually compelled to care about what will happen to the characters or how the featured storylines will be resolved. The drama is just too weak to be either convincing or interesting.
The work put in by the performers in the film does little in the way of improving it. Faisal Khan may look a little bit like his elder brother Aamir Khan, but his acting skills are a lot closer to those of Arshad Warsi Khan. He is quite awful as the lead in the film, and adds more to the unintentional comic effect of the film than anything else. Priya Gill reminds us why, despite starring opposite the likes of Shah Rukh Khan, she never quite made it in Bollywood. She has no talent to speak of. Aditya Pancholi does his best Sunny Deol impression in the film, but he doesn’t have the edge needed to pull off the army leader role well. The worst surprise comes in the form of Akshaye Khanna, who features more extensively in the film than anyone may have imagined. His performance is completely devoid of any flair or conviction. Everyone else from Mink Singh to Dina Pathak are substandard. I suppose one can’t expect much in the way of performance from a film like this.
“Border Hindustan Ka” fares better as a semi-humorous parody of Hindi films than a drama about cross-border love and terrorism. Keep in the mind the fact that this was probably the farthest thing from director Yogesh Bharadwaj’s intentions, and you get a fairly strong idea of how dreadfully awful this film actually is. It’s impossible to recommend this film on any level. Even if you want to see a spoof of clichéd Hindi film ideas, you’re better off going with last year’s classic, laugh-a-minute comedy, “Jaani Dushman: Ek Anokhi Kahani.” All in all, there are few worse ways to spend three hours of your life than watching this film.