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20 years of Border: Suniel Shetty says his mother-in-law convinced him for the film

As the 1997 blockbuster, Border, completes 20 years, Suniel Shettty reveals that he had almost refused the film, as he was scared of director JP Dutta.

bollywood Updated: Jun 13, 2017 17:50 IST
Samarth Goyal
Samarth Goyal
Hindustan Times
Suniel Shetty,Border,JP Dutta
Suniel Shetty played the role of Assistant Commandant Bhairon Singh, BSF.

Can you imagine anyone else playing actor Suniel Shetty’s character of Bhairav Singh in Border? His portrayal of a soldier placing the motherland above everything else in life struck a chord with the masses. But did you know that Shetty wouldn’t have signed the iconic film had it not been for his mother-in-law? As the 1997 blockbuster completes 20 years, the 55-year-old actor opens up about that and more. Excerpts:

How did you land the role?

I was actually going to reject it because I was scared of JP saab (director JP Dutta). I had heard all sorts of stories about him being a really strict filmmaker, and I didn’t want to be a part of his project. But then, he went to my mother-in-law and narrated her the story. She told me that I’d be mad not to say yes to the film. Now, 20 years down the line, I’m glad I listened to her and not myself.

You shot in the desert and in extreme weather conditions for the film? How gruelling was the experience?

We filmed in a place that’s about 60-70 kms from Bikaner. It was peak winter, so one can imagine that at night, it was almost foolish to keep your foot in the sand. But because of the script, all of us were so pumped to be a part of the film that we even enjoyed the extreme weather conditions.

Did this film, based on the battle of Longewala in 1971, influence your perspective of the armed forces?

I’ve been proud of the Indian armed forces since I was a kid. I have an obsession for the country, and whenever I get a chance to play a character in uniform, I get charged up. But, this film did change my perspective, in terms of what a soldier goes through, when he is about to go to war. He has to leave everyone behind, and his love for the motherland is so intense that he wants to fight and even die for her. I still remember, that the first day on the set, there were a few jawans, and JP saab decided to play Sandeshe aate hain in front of them. By the time the first verse had ended, every soldier had burst into tears, because for them, it was the truth.

Did you ever anticipate the film to grow into a phenomenon that still gives one goose bumps?

Of course, you can’t think like that. But the way JP Dutta and OP Dutta sir had written the script, I knew I was part of something special. Even now, after 20 years, whether I’m at the airport or anywhere else where there are soldiers from the army or CRPF or BSF, they tell me that they loved me in the film. That fills me up with pride.

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First Published: Jun 13, 2017 07:37 IST