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The BBC's Daniel Lak in Delhi
"The producers have spared no expense"
 real 28k

Friday, 21 January, 2000, 15:15 GMT
Kargil's theatre of war

Dedicated to the Indian soldiers who died in Kargil

By Daniel Lak in Delhi

Theatregoers in the Indian capital Delhi are about to witness an extravaganza, the like of which they may not have seen before.

The Fifty Day War, which has opened and runs for at least the next 10 days, is not just an ordinary play about the Kargil conflict between Indian and Pakistani backed forces in Kashmir last year.

Kashmir Conflict
It has a cast of nearly 150, revolving sets and stands for the audience, two flying MiG fighters, a helicopter and a frightening amount of explosives and life-like battle scenes.

Director and writer Aamir Raza Husein says it is the biggest production ever mounted in Asia.

Larger than life

The Kargil war, larger than life will be re-enacted every night for the next few weeks in a distant southern suburb of India's capital.

Realistic scenes of battle

Gunfire and explosions will rock the normally peaceful hills for weeks to come, just as the real fighting did in Kashmir last year.

The producers have spared no expense.

This is a play whose battle scenes and deeply realistic special effects take no prisoners.

"It started, of course, when the war was going on," says producer Virat Husein.

"One was reading the news and wanted to know more. Then I went off to Kargil to make a documentary.

"For six months, it's just been Kargil and nothing else for me," she said.

Celebrating victory

The hard work has resulted in an elaborate production.

The producers have spared no expense

The audience sits in a revolving stand, sets move in and out on rails, and there are even aircraft that fly.

The play is unstinting in its praise for the Indian army's efforts in Kashmir, and Pakistan is blamed repeatedly for starting the war.

Some might call it propaganda. Others say it is a welcome celebration of an Indian victory.

"It's a tribute - an unashamed, unabashed tribute and we don't want it to be anything else," says Aamir Raza Husein.

"We're not embarrassed by it. It's a very 'rah-rah India' kind of show," he said.

The play is dedicated to the hundreds of Indian soldiers who died during Kargil.

It recalls the heady mood of patriotism that gripped the country last year, but does suggest, in the end, that peace is far better than war.

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See also:
06 Dec 99 |  South Asia
Indian troops man Himalayan frontline
23 Aug 99 |  South Asia
Playing up the Kargil factor
30 Jul 99 |  South Asia
Patriotism sweeps India
20 Aug 99 |  South Asia
India bans Kargil documentaries
23 Jul 99 |  South Asia
Winter worries for Kashmir civilians
12 Jul 99 |  South Asia
Picture gallery: Two months at war

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