It's too outlandish to be a mere coincidence. The movie releases exactly one day after an assassination attempt on the Prez of Pakistan. When actually it was to hit the screens last week. So, does Dutta know something that we don't? Maybe he does, but that's not the question. The question is, is LOC worth all the stars, all the gandhis, all the hype (the cover of India Today), and all the keen anticipation? The answer, plain and simple, is, er, sort of.
Kargil and Operation Vijay are etched in the memories of all. LOC is banking on that sentiment, to narrate a tale that threatens to depict what our brave war heroes went through.
In May 1999, Pak infiltrators sneak into Indian soil and take up the empty bunkers once occupied by Indian Army. From there, they start shelling indiscriminately. The border forces suffer a huge number of causalities before they report to Delhi. And by the time the reinforcements arrive, LOC is loaded with Paki-supported militants.
Hence starts Operation Vijay - drive out the Paki rats and restore respect for international borders. The key mission is to safeguard the National Highway and some strategic points encroached, like Tiger Hill and Tigilong. Battalions from all over country (the Gurkha regiment, Punjab Rifles and the others) join the border forces in fighting the moles, finally managing to shoo them away.
Here's where the plethora of stars fits in. Ajay Devgan is in the Gurkha regime, Saif is in Ref. Rifles and so on. Excuse an Army illiterate for not remembering the exact names and designations of the various contingents. It's hard to concentrate with all those heroines lurking around. Which brings us to an interesting observation: if you notice the proportionality of the number of heroes with the no of heroines, you will realise that you're hopeless at math. You'd rather do more important things with proportionality than that.
So basically, the heroines are adding to the senti-value of the flick. They do a good job, too. All your sentiments about smoking cigarettes or blowing air bubbles or any other tear-jerking activity, can be aptly met when they're around.
For the actual stars now, the heroes: They all come, they talk about their loves and their love for the country, and die as martyrs, taking a dozen Pakis with them. The cycle runs the same for everyone: Ajay Devgan, Saif Ali Khan, Nagarjuna (utters a Telugu dialogue too), Ashutosh Rana, Abhishek Bachchan, Suniel Shetty etc. The luckier ones like Akshaye Khanna and Sudesh Berry live to tell the gory tale.
Ladakh is the location chosen by Dutta to set up Kargil. The treacherous mountains and the deadly fog really give a feel of what it was like in Kargil. The use of genuine artillery is mighty impressive. So is the detail paid to the slogans of the battalions and the various points that they capture.
Ajay Devgan, Saif and Abhishek Bachchan steal the thunder, and get the maximum number of hoots. But somehow, Manoj Bajpai manages to out-shine the others. Maybe it was his characterisation.
The bloody takeovers and the exhilarating dialogues manage to shake-wake the dormant patriot in you. A real let down, though, is the inclusion of all the heroines. The movie would've done without anyone who became an adult just last year. The music is decent enough to make you smile. But beware - smiling for 20 constant minutes can permanently mutate a face. The songs are excruciatingly long.
To say the most in less, LOC is a definite winner for presenting the authenticity and the feel of Kargil. It's a gross loser for including mass elements. And by mass elements, I don't just mean Esha Deol's arms!