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'Border' team breaks a leg at reunion bash


Team of JP Dutta's 1997 blockbuster celebrates 20th anniversary by sinking teeth into grenade-shaped cakes, binging on behind-the-scenes footage

Puneet Issar, JP Dutta, Anu Malik, Suniel Shetty, Pooja Bhatt and Jackie Shroff. Pics/Bipin Kokate
Puneet Issar, JP Dutta, Anu Malik, Suniel Shetty, Pooja Bhatt and Jackie Shroff. Pics/Bipin Kokate

Jackie Shroff, a dashing Air Force pilot, gears up for a practice flight. He tells his colleagues, "The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war."

It takes a few shots before filmmaker JP Dutta declares, "Theek hai" into his microphone from behind a monitor, as hugs and claps ensue, marking the first shot of what would eventually become one of Indian cinema's biggest blockbusters, Border — inspired by real life events that took place during the Battle of Longewala, during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971.

Athiya Shetty
Athiya Shetty

The cast and crew of the ensemble war-drama, including Jackie Shroff, Suniel Shetty, Puneet Issar and Pooja Bhatt, gathered to celebrate 20 years since the film first hit screens on June 13 1997. Filmmaker Dutta hosted his friends at a South Mumbai five-star, where everyone associated with the project, among others from the fraternity, turned up.

While Jackie made a solo appearance, Suniel was accompanied by wife Mana, actress-daughter Athiya and son Ahaan. Music composer Anu Malik too turned up with his family, where Dutta's daughter Nidhi graciously welcomed guests. Lyricist Javed Akhtar along with singers Roop Kumar Rathod and Alka Yagnik were also present, while Abhishek Bachchan, who made his Bollywood debut with the filmmaker's 2000 romance-drama, Refugee, was among the last to arrive at the venue.

Abhishek Bachchan with Dutta
Abhishek Bachchan with Dutta

An emotional Dutta recalled, "I remember my friend Vinod Khanna taking me to the then Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao. I showed him my script. He read it with childlike enthusiasm and told me, 'Yeh film toh banake rehna.' He gave me all the necessary permissions and asked [concerned authorities] to expedite the process. That is how I could shoot with the real men in uniform."

Heartwarming behind-the-scenes footage had the unit reminisce about the time they spent shooting the film. Dutta felicitated them with tanks and plane-shaped toys as mementos, along with a coffee-table book replete with trivia and anecdotes from the shoot. Special cupcakes imprinted with images from the set, and cake pops in
the shape of hand grenades, were served to guests.

Grenade-shaped cakes at the anniversary party
Grenade-shaped cakes at the anniversary party

Jackie said that Border was always destined to be successful. "From the dialogues, to the action, and even the songs, this script had all the ingredients of a great war film." Suniel added with a pithy, "I will take this film to my grave." Dutta also took the opportunity to announce his next, Paltan.

Border-themed cupcakes
Border-themed cupcakes

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