‘The Great Indian Escape - Khule Aasman Ki Ore’ film is inspired from a real life story. It is a modern ode to the bravery, and loyalty of 3 IAF pilots, who were taken ‘prisoner of war’ (PoW) while fighting in the Indo-Pak war of 1971-72.
This is the story of FLT LT Dilip Parulkar, FLT LT MS ‘Garry’ Gerewal & FLT LT ‘Harry’ Harish Sinhji. These 3 names are heroes in the pages of Indian Air Force, because they were the first ones to have planned and attempted a successful escape from the PoW(prisoners of war) camp, which was located in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.
The escape story is one of the many untold stories of India & IAF, which finds existence in only a few books as a chapter. “The Great Indian Escape Movie” brings this escape story to every Indian. Therefore, every Indian should watch it at least once, if not more than once.
TGIE Movie Backdrop
1971 India-Pakistan war is one of the most noted wars in world history because it gave birth to Bangladesh (previously East Pakistan). During this war, many brave hearts were caught in between the borders from both the country.
Among them were 12 IAF pilots, who were taken PoW by Pakistan. Post the 1971 Indo-Pak war, the Red Cross society enforced the “Geneva convention” and declared the caught soldiers as POW (Prisoners of War).
After various negotiations that took nearly a year, both India and Pakistan released the PoWs. If we look back in the pages of history, for every 1 Indian PoW that came from Pakistan, India had sent 30 Pakistani PoWs.
TGIE Movie Plot
The Great Indian Escape Movie chronicles the trials and tribulations faced by these bravehearts in the service of their motherland, and their daring escape in the face of overwhelming odds.
The film begins from the IAF attack on a radar station in Pakistan during the India-Pakistan war of 1971, when FLT LT Dilip Parulkar ejects out of his aircraft, which was shot down by the Pakistan army.
As he falls down on the ground, his parachute opens and he lands safely, but in Pakistan. The villagers in the surrounding areas are so filled with anger and hatred that they start beating him and steal nearly everything that he has.
They continue to beat him until he is rescued by PAF officers. He is handcuffed and blindfolded to be taken for investigation. Post investigation, he is blindfolded and taken to a base camp where he meets other Indian captives.
As the story progresses, we see 12 IAF officers who were caught and have been detained as PoW(prisoners of war) in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Being a prisoner of war (POW), all of them eagerly wait to be released and sent back to India.
Among all PoWs, three IAF pilots plan to escape from the PoW camp. The story revolves around how they plan to escape from the Pakistani PoW Comp, what kind of hardships & struggle they face, how nothing stopped them from getting their due freedom.
TGIE Movie Crew
Being an Independent film, The Great Indian Escape had a small but efficient team. Taranjiet Singh Namdhari, who has previously worked for the Yash Raj banner, is the key person behind the making of this film.
Besides being the conceptualiser of The Great Indian Escape movie, Taranjiet is also the Director & Editor of the film. He has also looked after the screenplay and dialogues of The Great Indian Escape.
Bandna Preet Kaur is the lead producer of the film, who felt that there is a declining number of stories that exemplify the bravery and glory of Indian Defense Services, and was drawn into the making of this film.
Similar passion was shared by the co-producers, when they joined hands to crowdfund the film. They all felt that this one story that could be very well adapted on the screen both creatively and commercially.
TGIE Movie Cast
Although the independent film had a budget constraint, the casting had been done by Taranjeit Singh Namdhari himself, and to perfection. After watching the movie, you will feel that the cast was undoubtedly perfect and did justice to their roles.
Be it the Indian actors who played Pakistani roles or the locals who added realism to the escape plan, everyone was made for the role. The amazing part of the cast was that they didn’t had a big name, and for many actors, this was the first film. As a debut film, this was not just special for them, but a chance to kick start their careers.
The lead roles are brilliantly played by Raghav Rishi (as FLT LT Dilip Parulkar), Raj Singh Arora (as FLT LT ‘Garry’ MS Gerewal), & Asheesh Kapur (as FLT LT ‘Harry’ Harish Sinhji).
The actors playing the lead roles have put in great efforts to resemble the 3 IAF brave hearts who were bold enough to break the prison. Dilip, Garry and Harry could be matched with the original photographs of the escapees, and by some people mistaken too.
The supporting actors, who essay the roles of the other IAF PoWs have also done full justice. They all had imbibed the discipline and sense of duty that defense personnel have in them, and it was clearly visible on the screen.
Here is the cast for TGIE movie:
Raghav Rishi As Flt Lt Dilip Parulkar
Raj Singh Arora As Flt Lt Ms Gerewal (Garry)
Asheesh Kapur As Flt Lt Harish Sinhji (Harry)
Sakshi Benipuri As Jyotirmayi Sinhji
Tushar Phulke As Sqn Ldr Ds Jafa
Rohan Roy As Wg Cdr Morris
Amit Panchal As Fg Off Khaleel Chowdhry
Nimesh Balaji Shinde As Fg Off Vidyadhar Chati
Sidharth Sodhi As As Flt Lt Tejwant Singh
Mohit Digambar As As Flt Lt Jl (Bro) Bhargava
Sanjay Reddy As Wg Cdr Usman Hamid
Bobby Bedii As Wg Cdr Wahid-ud-din
Prakash Ramchandani As Mwo Rizvi
Anuj Khurana As Cpl Ehsan
Maahi Singh As Mehfooz Khan
Debabrat Samal As Aurangzeb
Sonel Singh As Mrs Gursharan Kaur
Dipna Patel As Mrs Anu Bhargava
TGIE Movie Critical Appreciation
The first and foremost thing to note in TGIE movie is the fact that the roles of Pakistani officers have been played with great precision. In the screenplay, the good sides and the bad sides of Pakistan has been shown equally.
The film has neither glorified, nor attempted to defame either of the nations who were involved in the 1971 war. This shows that the purpose of the film was not to highlight the tensions between the countries but to present the call of duty.
Perhaps this was why we did not see much about the families of the IAF officers. There were little scenes that helped us to be familiar with their longings, their fears and their hope at the same time.
The connection of the escape plan with the 15th August Independence Day celebrations in India, is the most striking feature of the film. It highlights the importance of freedom in the life of a prisoner.
Lastly, having 12-16 different characters in a single frame, that too most of the time, it becomes really difficult for the audience. Director Taranjiet has ensured that the audience is not confused with the plot, or the characters. In spite of having good screen time for most of the characters, there’s a clarity in the screenplay.
TGIE Movie Popular Dialogues
The movie has some dialogues that will loop permanently in your head.
“Sir, I am a Jhala Rajput. Valour and sacrifice are ingrained in our blood.”
“If I ever get captured, I will escape.”
“Yeh Pakistan hai Pakistan, yahan goliyan chalte mint nahi lagta!”
“Let me tell you Jolly boy, I will be the first one to get the freedom.”
"Khalsa hind di chaadar hai, chaadar te vich daag nahi lagn doonga!"
TGIE Movie Trivia
1. The Great Indian Escape is an independent film, produced and released by crowdfunding nearly 25% of the total budget. It was the dream and passion of Taranjiet Singh Namdhari to make this film and he did it successfully.
2. The movie started with the concept in 2014, and released in 2019. The shooting started in July 2016 and finished in April 2017. The team faced so much in between, only to make this story, this film to reach maximum people.
3. Asheeh Kapur, who essays the role of Flt Lt Harish Sinhji, did a lot of hard work as Harish Sinhji is no more in this world. He could not meet him nor his family before the shoot was over. It was the handwritten letters of Harish Sinhji, which he wrote to his family as a PoW, that helped him understand and incorporate Harry's personality in him.
4. The Jhala community in Rajasthan respects and worships FLT LT Harish Sinhji, who belonged to the same community for his valour. When the film released, the Jhala community convinced a PVR in their region to run the film and every day nearly 400 Jhalas watched the film for weeks.
5. The movie starts with 'Zafarnama' in background and fighter jets on screen. 'Zafarnama' was a victory letter sent by Guru Gobind Singh Ji in 1705 to the Mughal Emperor of India, Aurangzeb. The letter stated that when there is nothing left, one should pickup weapons and fight. This was purposely used to hint that the IAF pilots escaped as it was the only thing left that they could do.
6. At first director Taranjiet thought of making a documentary. It was his wife who convinced him to make a feature film. He had 45 hours of recordings - narration by Dilip Parulkar to start writing his script.
TGIE Movie Takeaway
This is one uniquely crafted Independent Film - expressing a lot without a lot of attention. How they escaped is interesting to watch. What route they planned and what kind of sacrifice they did to get that freedom, help us to understand the value of freedom.
Great movies are valued by the audience reaction. And the audience reaction for this movie is a standing ovation, which is well deserved. Also, movies like TGIE are true meaning of film-making. They inspire & motivate everyone in its own way.
“The role of Jafa Sir is the backbone of the movie. I prepared this role by reading a book written by Jafa Sir. Also, I am a student of Sanjeev Kumar (who played Thakur in Sholay) and I felt I am playing the Thakur in the film.” - Tushar Phulke
“This was technically my debut movie. I knew Taranjiet Sir beforehand and was involved in pre-production, that drew me closer to the film. I also assisted him in movie.” - Nimesh Shinde
“The script demanded that 16 POWs in Pakistan form their own family and stand together. So, showing much about their real families was not needed. Yet, I feel happy to be a part of the film.” - Dipna Patel
“It was really hard to play a Pakistani as there was no reference of the person. I watched the movie 1984, and took inspiration from the Pakistani character in it.” - Anuj Khurana
“If you have an idea, don’t wait for anybody to give you funds. Don’t expect big names or big production houses to get on board. Just go and find your own way.” - Taranjiet Singh Namdhari
"When his family thanked me for bringing Harish Sinhji to life, I felt my job was done. I was successful as an actor." - Asheesh Kapur