With nationalistic fervour raging, as many as five films set against the 1971 India-Pakistan War are getting ready for the marquee

In the last two years, rolled out three movies—Meghna Gulzar’s cross-border thriller Raazi; featuring Alia Bhatt and Vicky Kaushal, Rana Daggubati’s The Ghazi Attack and the John Abraham-fronted Romeo Akbar Walter set against the backdrop of the 1971 Indo-Pak war with varying success. While the jury is out on the saleability quotient of the template, there are five more films— on the conflict that altered the anatomy of the Indian subcontinent—getting ready for the marquee.

► Film On Sam Manekshaw

After Uri: The Surgical Strike and Raazi, Vicky Kaushal returns to familiar ground with Meghna Gulzar’s next, on Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw. The film was announced on his death anniversary in June. Shooting begins in 2021. While talking to Mirror (June 27), Vicky shared his early impressions of Manekshaw, saying, “I personally couldn’t witness his achievements, but my parents would always tell me that he was a fearless patriot with an amazing leadership quality. The first time I’d heard of him was in the context of the 1971 Indo-Pak war.”

► Biopic On Arun Khetarpal

Varun Dhawan is reuniting with his Badlapur producer Dinesh Vijan and director Sriram Raghavan

to play Second Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal. The 21-year-old officer showed great courage, standing up to unrelenting attacks by the Pakistani army. He was posthumously honoured with the Param Vir Chakra. Dinesh informs that Khetarpal was one of Poona Horse’s (his regiment) most celebrated lieutenants, while Varun admits that when he heard his story, he “was awed that this could have actually happened”.

► Navy Day

Bhushan Kumar, along with Tanuj Garg, Atul Kasbekar and Swati Iyer Chawla, is producing a film based on Operation Trident, one of the most audacious naval attacks in the world, conducted by the Indian Navy on December 4 and 5 during the 1971 war, targeting the Karachi Harbour. Navy Day in India is celebrated on December 4 as a tribute to its success. Operation Trident was planned under the leadership of Admiral Sardarilal Mathradas Nanda and masterminded by then Fleet Operations Officer of the Navy, Gulab Mohanlal Hiranandani. For the first time, anti-ship missiles in combat were used in this region. The Karachi Harbour was the headquarters of Pakistan’s Navy and almost its entire fleet was based there in 1971. It was followed by Operation Python on December 8 and 9, which was another success. The film marks the directorial debut of adman Razneesh Ghai and is expected to go on the floors in mid-2020.

► Bhuj: The Pride Of India

This Ajay Devgn-starrer is modelled on Squadron Leader Vijay Karnik, who was in-charge of the Bhuj airbase, which remained operational during the war, despite heavy bombarding from Pakistan. Accompanied by 50 air force and 60 defence security personnel, he reconstructed the Indian Air Force airstrip with the help of 300 women from a nearby village. The film which also features Sonakshi Sinha and Sanjay Dutt as villagers, took off in Hyderabad this July, followed by a shoot in Mandvi in Gujarat. The war sequences will be the highlight of the film, for which the makers have roped in National-Award-winning action director Peter Hein. Action units from Bulgaria and Vietnam were specially flown down for the climax.

► Runway

This Vikram Malhotra production is based on a true story from the war and reportedly focuses on the destruction of an airstrip in Bhuj, along with several Indian Air Force airstrips, by Pakistani bombers. Indian authorities only had 72 hours to repair the airstrips for fighter planes to take off and land. A group of around 300 local villagers, mostly women, stepped in to help rebuild the airstrips, using local waste and cow dung as camouflage.