A look at book and films based on Kargil War on its 20th anniversary

On 26 July 1999 India successfully claimed backed its land from Pakistan. Kargil War changed our nation’s course of history. Heroes sacrificed their lives. Brave men were honoured. Books and films were made. One of the most emotionally gripping books about the war is ‘Letters from Kargil’ by Diskha Dwivedi. Diksha was just eight-years-old when her father was martyred in the war. Growing up as a strong independent woman, she decided to compile letters written by soldiers – those who died in Kargil – to their fellow brothers-in-arms and to their family.

It is a warm tribute about soldiers, deeply moving and engaging and it reminds us that war is the ultimate enemy. To learn from the words of soldiers who tell us how it feels to stay on guard behind enemy lines, in the bitterly cold wind, in an atmosphere that is bound to cause distraught to human mind and body, leaves you amazed by the eagerness of these hard rock men to defend our land.

Diksha is articulate in her narrative style. Each chapter begins with how our soldiers progressed to retain lands forcibly invaded by Pakistan army. She writes every soldier helped each other, about battle plans and the men yearned for their family’s presence. Chapters begin with a brief background about the state of war; the politics, the ground situation of important battalion defending strategic points. We are invited to the bitter lives of soldiers who are ready to face anything. It becomes evident that death does not frighten them but what scares them the most is not doing anything to safeguard the pride and respect of our country.

* Letters from the heart

In one of the most powerful letters, Lieutenant Praveen Tomar of 2 Raj Rif writes, ‘…One fact that might interest you is that I had carried your letter into battle and that I was without food or water for 24 hours and was urinating blood due to my overexertion. But by God, we did it and we did it in style.’ The last chapter ‘The Last Goodbyes’ is too emotional to read. Soldiers write letters to their parents. They offer their gratitude and pride for serving in the Indian Army. Captain Neikezhakuo Kenuruse writes to his family, ‘Dad and mum I have to share this personal matter with you. I have a girlfriend, her name is Carmila… I am afraid you may not like her. But I love her and she loves me too. This May when I cam for holidays I asked for her hand and she agreed to marry me, so if I don’t come back please take care of her too…’* On the silver screen
Movies too have been made based on Kargil war. Lakshya is a 2004 Indian romantic war-drama directed by Farhan Akhtar, starring Hrithik Roshan, Preity Zinta and Amitabh Bachchan. Hrithik Roshan plays a goalless young man who later becomes an army officer. It is a coming-of-age story set against a fictionalized backdrop of Kargil War. The film is loved by the audience for its incredible music and powerful acting by the stars. The song ‘Kitni Baatein’ continues to stir souls for its moving lyrics.

Other films include LOC: Kargil, directed by JP Dutta and featuring an ensemble Bollywood stars. The film has a running time of 255 minutes and is one of longest Indian films ever made. And then there is Mani Ratnam’s Kaatru Veliyidai – a romantic war film, starring Karthi and Aditi Rao Hydari. Perhaps more films will continue to be made and books will be written. Books and films have the power to move us and remind us what it makes us human. More importantly, it also has the power to remind the dangers of wars.