ETimes had an exclusive chat with Captain Vikram Batra’s parents — Mr Giridhar Lal Batra and Mrs Kamal Kanta Batra. Don’t miss the video below. Here are the excerpts:
How similar and different were Vikram sir and Vishal sir when they were in their youth and childhood?
Mr Batra: Both did very well in academics. Vishal used to score a little more than Vikram. On the other side, Vishal was more studious, while Vikram was more inclined towards extra-curricular activities. Body-wise, Vikram was stout and Vishal was slim.
Who was naughtier of the two?
Mrs Batra: Both were naughty but their pranks were very sweet, it didn’t bother us.
How did you get to know that a film on your son, Captain Vikram Batra, is being planned?
Mrs Batra: We got a call from the makers of ‘Shershaah’ that they wanted to make such a film. They called up my husband and took permission. After that they came over and discussed the same.
Mr Batra: It was Mr Shabbir Boxwalla who first came up with this idea. He is a co-producer on the film; he met me and discussed it at length. I shared with him things about VIkram’s childhood, school, college, joining the Army and the war-period. After that, he approached Dharma Productions to produce the film along with him. That’s how Karan Johar came in.
Did you have any apprehensions about how the entire thing will roll out on screen?
Mr Batra: Yes, we had a bit of hichkichahat (hesitation) but we had expressed a similar hesitation even when J P Dutta had come to us for ‘LOC: Kargil’. We had told him that please don’t show anything in a wrong way that it may lead to anybody raising a finger. That’s why we did everything amicably and reasonably.
Were you involved in the process of casting?
Mr Batra: There were many names that came up but eventually Sidharth Malhotra and Kiara Advani were finalised. Like us, Sidharth is a Punjabi Khatri. We were happy with the choice of casting him. Kiara Advani is a good actress who is coming up well. We were fine with her casting too. They had kept us in the loop about their casting.
What was your reaction when Vikram sir first told you that he wanted to join the Army?
Mrs Batra: In his second year of college he decided to join the Merchant Navy and he was selected. Just three days before joining he asked me if we need money in life. I told him that by the grace of God, we are self-sufficient. He said that then he would join the Army and not the Navy. He explained it, saying, ‘main kuch karna chahta hoon aur kuch banna chahta hoon aur woh main tabhi kar sakta hoon when I join the Army’.
Mr Batra: We supported his decision. The Army gives you a very disciplined and respectful life. Our ancestors have also been in the Army. We are Kshatriyas and have always been brave.
He used to take 50 per cent prizes in school sports. He excelled in NCC. He was also very jovial. Whenever he came home, he was happy. He was a yaaron ka yaar (your best friend if you consider him the same). He had many soulful qualities.
What did you think of the film?
Mr Batra: ‘Shershaah’ is a very nice, well-made film. I think Sidharth and Kiara have done a very good job. Sidharth’s entry is very nice as well. Vishnuvardhan has directed it very well.
Is Vikram Batra’s soulmate Dimple Cheema in touch with you?
Mr Batra: She calls up about twice in a year on our respective birthdays.
The love between Captain Vikram and Dimple was very strong. She didn’t get married…
Mr Batra: As long as my child is not going on the wrong track, I have always been a liberal father. Vikram had told us about Dimple and their intention of getting married. I told him that I was with them in their decision. I knew from the start that Dimple is a very respectful girl who understands relationships.
After the Kargil war, we told her to get married as she has a life ahead. Her parents too told her the same. But she told us that she wouldn’t get married and live the rest of her life with Vikram’s memories.