1971: Beyond Borders is a 2017 Indian Malayalam-language war film written and directed by Major Ravi. It is the fourth instalment in the Major Mahadevan film series, with Mohanlal reprising his role as Colonel Mahadevan and a new character, Major Sahadevan. It also features Arunoday Singh and Allu Sirish.
The film, set in two time periods, is based on the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 and act as both prequel and follow-up to the series. Mohanlal’s and Sirish’s characters were modelled on Hoshiar Singh and Arun Khetarpal, both of whom were awarded the Param Vir Chakra for their roles in the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War.
The film starts in Georgia where a Pakistani UN Peace Keeping Forces reaches a building where Gangsters are hiding. As the counter insurgency operation begins, the insurgents open fire. The team is stuck in cross firing and calls for reinforcements. At that time an Indian UN Peace Keeping Forces reaches there and rescues the contingent. The leader of the contingent is Colonel Mahadevan. He meets the leader of the Pakistani contingent whose name is Colonel Ajmal Raja Akram. He reveals that he is the son of Lieutenant Colonel Mohd. Akhram Raja. At a function to honour the UN Peace Keeping Forces, Ajmal reveals that his father was killed in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. On hearing about this Colonel Mahadevan reveals that his father, Major Sahadevan, killed Ajmal’s father.
The story shifts to 1971 when Bangladesh was fighting for secession from Pakistan. On 03 December 1971, Indian airfields are attacked in retaliation to which Indira Gandhi announces war. After the announcement the entire army is rallied and leaves are cancelled. The war starts when the Pakistan Army Armoured Corps attack Indian positions at the Basantar river. The Indians are not prepared and face a defeat. The Pakistani Army takes many POWs. The prisoners are tortured by the army men while Raja notices this and reprimands his senior officer for violating the Geneva Convention which state that POWs should be treated like guests to which his senior officer is not happy.
Later, the Indians launch a full offensive against the Pakistanis in which one of their best tank commander Chinmay is martyred. On seeing Chinmay’s face Raja remarks that such a young boy had destroyed six tanks. He declares ceasefire to let the Indian Army collect the body. On seeing Chinmay’s death the Indian Army vows to take revenge. The Battle of Basantar begins with heavy casualties on both sides. In the end, Raja and Sahadevan face each other in a one on one battle which is won by Sahadevan. At the same time, Pakistan surrenders unconditionally and ceasefire is declared. Sahadevan is disturbed by the deaths of the Indian soldiers and the Pakistani soldiers. He resolves that there should be no more wars as it leads to death and destruction.
- Mohanlal as Colonel Mahadevan and Major Sahadevan (Colonel Hoshiar Singh Dahiya).
- Arunoday Singh as Pak Lieutenant colonel Muhammed Akhram Raja (Major Shabbir Sharif).
- Allu Sirish as Lieutenant Chinmay (Second Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal).
- Renji Panicker as Lieutenant Coloenl Janardanan.
- Sudheer Karamana as Captain Aadhiselvam.
- Devan as IB officer Nair.
- Asha Sarath as Parvathy Sahadevan.
- Priyanka Agrawal as Sharif’s wife.
- Srushti Dange as Chinmay’s wife.
- Neha Khan as Public Relations Officer.
- Saiju Kurup as Gunner Nathan.
- Padmaraj Ratheesh as Gunner Prayag.
- Krishna Kumar as Soldier Sudharshan.
- Manikuttan as Soldier.
- Pradeep Chandran as Radio operator Abhinand.
- Zoya Zayed Khan as Pakistani doctor.
- Jayakrishnan as Captain Anand.
- Kannan Pattambi as Kunjikannan.
- Souparnika Subhash as Nurse.
- Balaji Sarma as Sahadevan’s friend.
- Krishna Prasad as Sahadevan’s friend.
- Meghanathan as Sulaiman.
- Kollam Thulasi as Sahadevan’s friend.
- Deepak Jethi as Pak Colonel Ajmal raja (Akhram Raja’s son).
- Vijayan Peringode as Krishna Pillai.
- Sudheer Sukumaran.
- Sethu Lakshmi as Sahadevan’s mother.
- Saranya Anand as Military nurse.
- Tini Tom.
The film is set in two time periods, with Mohanlal playing both Colonel Mahadevan and his son Major Sahadevan. The film will also see his transition from a Major to a Colonel. The film is based on a true incident and explores the friendship and life of two army officials. Mohanlal will be appearing in his fourth film as Mahadevan after Keerthi Chakra (2006), Kurukshetra (2008), and Kandahar (2010). Ravi said in an interview in October 2015, that unlike the previous films in the series, Beyond Borders will be more like his last military film Picket 43 (2015), that “the focus will be on the individuals rather than the war, and will portray the relationships that are forged during the war”. Rahul Subramaniam, Siddharth Vipin, and Najim Arshad is composing the music for the film.
In early August 2016, Bollywood actor Arunoday Singh was confirmed playing the role of Lieutenant Colonel Rana Sharif, a soldier of Pakistan Army. Before zeroing in Singh, there were talks with other actors. Ravi was particularly looking for a Bollywood actor to play the role. Singh’s character was modelled after a real life soldier in the Pakistan Frontier Force Regiment during the 1971 war. Ravi said, it is not a negative role that he is also fighting for his country and will have equal importance as Mahadevan. On 22 October 2016, Telugu actor Allu Sirish himself confirmed his role in the film by announcing in Twitter. He plays Lieutenant Chinmay, an armoured tank Commando, of the wing headed by Mahadevan. It is the Malayalam film debut of Sirish. Ravi was looking for younger actors to play the role. Mumbai-based model Priyanka Agrawal was signed to appear as Shariff’s wife, in two different appearances – as a 65 year old and as her younger self. Hers is one among the two leading female roles in the film. It is also her feature film debut.
In early December 2016, it was confirmed that the production team negotiated with Nikki Galrani to play a Tamilian girl, a love interest of Chinmay, played by Sirish. She was busy with her Tamil films, but attracted as a Mohanlal film and the debut of Sirish, she agreed on verbal terms. Galrani later opted out from the film in early January 2017 due to a schedule change and conflicting date issues with some of her Tamil films in contract. Her portions opposite Sirish were supposed to be shot at Pollachi the same month. She was replaced by Srushti Dange, making her debut into Malayalam cinema. Zoya Zayed Khan was confirmed in December 2016, to play a traditional Pakistani doctor. She is acting alongside Singh. Khan was cast after a screen test. Shafeeq Rahman was cast as Jayakrishnan, one of the soldiers under Mahadevan’s command. Saiju Kurup and Sudheer Karamana also plays soldiers, among others. Asha Sarath is paired opposite to Mohanlal’s Sahadevan, the mother role of Mahadevan.
The filming commenced on 31 October 2016 at Suratgarh in Rajasthan, India. Art director Saloo K. George built huge sets resembling army camps and bunkers. Built in Kochi, Kerala, they were transported to Rajasthan. The filming was conducted in the deserts of Rajasthan, the Viper population was highest in that area, the crew unaware of it first, immediately ordered antivenoms and worn heavy shoes on reaching the location. Chest congestion often occurred to the crew. Sirish joined filming on 05 November 2016. Indian army base in Arjungarh, Junagarh and Mahajan in Bikaner were some of the filming locations in Rajasthan. After 25 days of filming, the schedule was wrapped on 23 November 2016. There was also a schedule in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir.
The next few schedules underwent at various location in Kerala, beginning in Pattambi, Palakkad district. The Indo-Pakistani war sequences were planned to shoot at Uganda, later they decided to film it in Georgia instead, following the Kerala schedule. After finishing in Pattambi, they shifted to nearby Ottapalam in early January 2017. Then to Perumbavoor, Ernakulam district in the third week of January 2017, where sets were built resembling North Indian borders and warfare trenches. It was constructed in a 40 acre reclaimed land near Perumbavoor. Mohanlal joined the location on 16 January 2017, filming held during day and night.
The team began filming its final schedule in Georgia on 31 January 2017 for a week. Beyond Borders is the first Malayalam film to be shot in the Eurasian country. Major Mahadevan’s action sequences was shot in Georgia who is in a UN peacekeeping mission. The filming wrapped on 05 February 2017.
The film will feature four songs composed by three music directors – Najim Arshad, Siddharth Vipin, and Rahul Subramanian. The film score is composed by Gopi Sunder. Singer Arshad debuts as a music director through the film. He composed a Hindi patriotic song written by a Kolkata-based lyricist named Kamal Karthik, the song come towards the end of the film. Vipin known for his compositions in Tamil films, is composing two songs – one is a romantic song picturised in the locations in Kerala. The other one is a motivational song that will follow after a speech delivered by Mohanlal’s character. Subramanian composed a nostalgic song, sung by M.G. Sreekumar and featuring Mohanlal and Asha Sarath.
1971: Beyond Borders released on 07 April 2017 in India. The Telugu dubbed version titled Yuddha Bhoomi (Battlefield) was released on 29 June 2018. The Tamil version was released later. The film released in its original version on 13 April 2017 in GCC countries. The television broadcast right of 1971: Beyond Borders was bought by Amrita TV for an amount of ₹5.5 crore.
- The UK release was cut, the distributor chose to remove scenes of strong violence and bloody detail in order to obtain a 12A classification.
- An uncut 15 classification was available.
Major Mahadevan Film Series
- Keerthi Chakra (2006) (as Major Mahadevan).
- Kurukshetra (2008) (as Colonel Mahadevan).
- Kandahar (2010) (as Major Mahadevan).
- 1971: Beyond Borders (2017) (as Colonel Mahadevan).
Production & Filming Details
- Narrator(s): Mammootty.
- Director(s): Major Ravi.
- Producer(s): Andrew Johnson.
- Writer(s): Major Ravi and Shiju Nambyath.
- Music: Siddarth Vipin, Najim Arshad, Rahul Subramanian, and Gopi Sunder.
- Cinematography: Sujith Vaassudev.
- Editor(s): Samjith MHD.
- Production: Red Rose Creations.
- Distributor(s): Red Rose Release.
- Release Date: 07 April 2017 (India).
- Running Time: 135 minutes.
- Rating: 12A.
- Country: India.
- Language: Malayalam.