The Indian Army officers have always been looked upon as role models and have a currency much more than gold bullion. The uniform, character, strength and moral code of conduct backed by the Chetwoode Oath taken before passing out give the average citizen the comfort that if any harm was to come his way, there is someone who is committed to ensuring the well-being and protection to his home and hearth.
Over the years, filmmakers and concept designers for advertisements have used the role of Army Officers to convey a social message. There is nothing wrong with that; however, in the process, to degrade and make a champion alpha male look like a chump is unacceptable.
Forrest Gump and its representation in its Bollywood version indicate that the producer and the scriptwriters deviated from the selection process of officers in the Indian Armed Forces and allowed a dimwit charlatan to be selected and portrayed as a war hero.
During the Vietnam war, it was reportedly stated that the US Military planned to recruit 1,00,000 soldiers by separating the Mental, Physical, and educational standards of the American Army. This plan was called Project 1,00,000 or McNamara Morons or Misfit. The programme had mentally weak, physically misfit, undereducated or illiterate boys who were put through boot camp and sent to Vietnam; some called them the McNamara Morons.
There were many reasons for US loss, but this was probably the single largest factor.
The selection to the Indian Army as an officer is unique and allows all to compete in an all-India common defence services entrance exam. This, amongst many other entrance opportunities, lays down the basic criteria of intelligence to be short-listed for a Services Selection Board Interview. The battle is stiffer here, as a candidate has to be “selected” and approved by the psychologist, the Group Task Officer and the President of the Services selection board, thereby securing three “ayes” as a single “nay” is a cause for rejection. The reason for rejection is stated unequivocally and discussed before the final rejection. Wait, the candidate now has to face a stiff medical examination, another cause for rejection. In some cases, surgical treatment is advised, and the candidate is asked to present themselves before the medical board for approval.
The candidate now has to make it on the overall merit list to receive a call letter to reach the academy for training. The training is tough and stretches the mental, physical and physiological limits. Any failure leads to the loss of a term, and repeated failure leads to a withdrawal of the cadet from the academy.
The selection process thus ensures that all those who pass out and become commissioned officers of the Indian Armed Forces are sharp, intelligent and committed officers who have voluntarily chosen the path of extreme danger to their well-being and safety to ensure the larger good of the Nation.
The three hours show in which a story is told and sold, in which the producer and the actors go laughing to the bank, does not bring out the cold reality of sweat and blood, hours of training as well as an endless number of studies to be the sword arm of the state and the Indian Army officer the sharply honed edge of that sword arm.
While there may be arguments that this is fictional and does not represent anyone in real life, the question is, why misrepresent?
Who gives this right to the self-styled owners to sell a story degrading the rich legacy, ethos and traditions of the Indian Army?
Movies representing the Army are cleared by the Military Intelligence Directorate. It’s surprising that the officer responsible has failed in his duty to protect the image and valour of the very service he has served in. No greater dis-service could have been done.
Through this column, it is requested that steps be taken to prevent and restrict gross misrepresentation of dedicated personnel who have chosen to remain committed to serving the Nation.
As per media reports, the producers have sold the rights to the film to OTT platforms and thus have recovered their investments. By the time the government machinery and the courts take action, irreparable damage would have been done.
The question is, what penalty can be imposed to undo this?
The Armed Forces are the fabric which keeps this Nation safe. Misrepresentation is blasphemy and should be treated as such. The average Indian must consider this when they think of watching these movies.
I rest my case.