On Army Day today, we asked the filmmakers about that one scene from their films based on the Indian Army that was hard to crack.
Abishek Sharma, Parmanu
For me it was the climactic scene. I wondered how we’re going to carry out the explosion, because there’s no other movie in history where the nuclear explosion has been shown underground. It was technically and also emotionally a difficult scene. As the explosion takes place, John’s character (Abraham, actor) is in the control room. It’s a scene where everyone is frozen. We shot that on a fixed camera and then the camera came back to John. He’s sitting on the chair. No VFX can help you with the emotions. I remember John wasn’t talking all day, he was just thinking. He and I both thought about how this would turn out. He didn’t have any outside tools to help him because we were filming in a studio, so he didn’t have the actual view of the desert where the blast happened. He looks at nothing. Now we usually have glycerin on standby, because it gets really hard for actors to tear up on command. As soon as he entered the frame, there was complete silence. He actually broke down. I think it’s one of his best performances and even he feels the same way. It came very naturally to him. We couldn’t repeat that moment, so it was a one-shot.
Amrit Sagar, 1971
The scene where Kabir dies. It’s a full throw away from the public. There is no dialogue. What I like about that scene is the silence and the background music that my brother (Akash Sagar) provided.
There’s one more scene, that’s the climax. Manoj (Bajpayee, actor) actually screams and breaks down as Suraj Singh for the first time. That was actually improvised on Manoj’s set. I wasn’t too happy about it. I thought he broke character. We almost had a fight about it. Manoj was the one who asked me to trust him. He asked me not to remove this in the edit, and I gave him my word.
Shashi Kiran Tikka, Major
The entire sequence where Sandeep Unnikrishnan says his last dialogue before dying. I think for several reasons as a sequence it was the hardest part in making Major. The action is something no one has seen. After he went upstairs, people only heard the shooting, no one was there. By the time people got there, Major was lying just like we portrayed in the movie. What happened in between was complete fiction that we made up based on the little facts we got. That was an emotional ride. We don’t know what happened, but we wanted to capture the ghost of it.
J. P. Dutta
It’s hard to put down one scene. There have been many who have struggled in different ways. But for me, the most emotionally charged scenes will be the death scenes of Suniel (Shetty) and Akshaye (Khanna) in Border and Abhishek (Bachchan) and that of Ajay Devgn in LOC: Kargil. But as a filmmaker, the one moment in my entire trilogy that stood out and even devastated me was in Paltan. We were recording the climax song Main Zinda Hoon and we had to light about 100 funeral pyres to recreate the funerals done in Nathula in 1967. The moment we stood there, the whole unit was crying. I felt too many emotions.
Vishal Mangalorkar, Jeet ki Zid
My character is a decorated officer who is now a disability. But for him to pick himself up, come back and fight for life was the hardest thing for us to capture in one scene. In the seventh episode, there’s this particular scene, because he’s used to being in a wheelchair. One day his senior takes his wheelchair away from him. It’s a big leap for him physically and emotionally. In short, his whole struggle was very difficult to film and all in one take. From the moment he got out of bed, the way he held onto his crutches for the first time in his life was monumental. That was the most crucial scene and it was difficult for us to stage and design it. When I showed it to Major Deependra Singh Sengar (about whom the series is made) he felt so emotional.
Samar Khan, Shaurya
The scene where the army officers perform a combing operation in a Kashmiri village at night was the most difficult
I have always wondered this and the difficulty of being an army officer who has to keep the balance between being tough and sensitive…it’s really a tough job when you don’t know if you’re facing friend and foe
The scene was not physically challenging to shoot, but an opportunity for me to admire the mental strength it takes for army officers and Jawans to do this
Aditya Dhar, Uri: The surgical strike
The whole movie, shooting wise, was really hard. But in terms of emotions, the scene or the sequence in shooting, which became very exciting, was the funeral scene for us. It’s not just about the army officers, it’s about the families and what they go through. That scene to me was the most important scene in the movie, because if that scene didn’t work, the movie wouldn’t have worked. That’s the scene, which was the pivotal point where the shift takes place, where you really realize the brutality or sacrifice that the Indian military has to go through.
For me, that funeral scene was the most important scene, but also mentally. It was a big challenge for us, because it was a kid who had to perform during the shoot. Everything depended on the performance of that child. But as soon as the camera started rolling and Riva Arora, the boy who performed it, she did such a great job that everyone immediately got into the mood. We realized that this will be the most beautiful scene of the movie, this will be the most moving and heartbreaking scene of the movie. It’s the scene that actually mimics reality quite accurately.
The sad thing is that very few people in the general public know or acknowledge or understand the sacrifices the military families have to make. So hats off to them and the film was specially dedicated to the Indian Army and the families of army men from the very beginning. That’s the beauty of Army Day: celebrating the bravery and sacrifice of our soldiers.