"Haqeeqat" was India's first full length war film in the aftermath of the 1962 Chinese aggression, and won the National Film Award. It was also the opening film at the First International Film Festival in New Delhi, 1964-65. Amongst the viewers were Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, the then President of India and Chiefs of the Defence Force along with Prithviraj Kapoor and Raj Kapoor.
This is one of Bollywood's earliest—and most realistic—war films, set against a backdrop of what was then the almost inaccessible region of Ladakh. It’s a blend of war and melodrama, propaganda and patriotism... and I’m not sure exactly what can be considered the main story of the film, since it actually consists of a number of stories woven into each other.
This film is based on a true incident that took place during the Indo-Chinese war of 1962. The dispute was in a land near Ladakh. Indian soldiers were given strict orders that the first shot must come from the Chinese side. A resident of Ladakh, Angmo (Priya Rajvansh) and an Indian soldier Bahadur Singh (Dharmendra) fall in love with each other. But there is something else written in Angmo’s fate. The Chinese army wants to use Angmo as a spy. When she refuses, she is molested by the Chinese soldiers. The news that the war has started comes to her and she vows to fight against the Chinese soldiers. However both Bahadur Singh and Angmo die in the war and the Chinese soldiers are kept at bay helping the Indians to retreat to safer havens.
This is isn’t the greatest war film ever made, but it’s definitely one of the best made in India. It is realistic and gritty, and shows the harshness of life (and death) in one of the world’s most treacherous battlefields. If only it had steered clear of the melodramatic patriotism that grips it midway through…
The best part of the film is that it is realistic. Pains to ensure that the terrain, the military background, the life of the civilians, etc are all authentic have been taken. Small things like the fact that the men are unshaven, sunburnt and raddled with frostbite as the film progresses, is a vast improvement on the sanitised way war is often depicted in Hindi cinema. On the scale of acting, everyone is brilliant and the chemistry between Priya and Dharmendra is stunning.
Overall, despite the melodrama and the preachy patriotism (and the sorrow of so many lives lost), this is still a good film. It’s very real and very believable.