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When Suniel Shetty thought he might beat up ‘hot-headed’ JP Dutta on the set of Border

The Hunter - Tootega Nahi, Todega actor had heard stories about the filmmaker “getting angry and abusing his actors” on the set

When Suniel Shetty thought he might beat up ‘hot-headed’ JP Dutta on the set of Border

Suniel Shetty played Captain Bhairon Singh in JP Dutta's 1997 war drama film, 'Border'

Last Updated: 03.05 PM, Apr 22, 2023


Known for his action-packed performances, Suniel Shetty made his OTT debut in March 2023 as ACP Vikram Sinha on Amazon miniTV’s Hunter - Tootega Nahi, Todega. During a candid conversation in a podcast recently, the actor spoke about his experience of working with filmmaker JP Dutta in the 1997 blockbuster war drama, Border, in which he had played the character of Captain Bhairon Singh. 

Featuring an ensemble cast - including Sunny Deol, Jackie Shroff, Akshaye Khanna, Tabu, Raakhee and Pooja Bhatt - the movie was set during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. The plot was inspired by the real-life events that unfolded during the Battle of Longewala in 1971.


Although Border is a memorable film, it looks like Suniel was initially apprehensive about joining the team. Why? Because he didn’t want to work with a ‘hot-headed’ director, who was ‘disrespectful’ toward his cast members. While speaking on The Ranveer Show podcast, the actor said, “I had heard a lot of stories about JP Dutta… That he gets angry and abuses his actors.”

However, the filmmaker was particular about casting Suniel as Captain Bhairon Singh. JP pursued him for a few months, and had to finally take help from Suniel’s mother-in-law to convince the actor. “When he came to me with Border, I refused to sign it. He made me hear the subject. I respected him but then I said no. He couldn’t understand why I had said no to that character. That struggle went on for two-three months, and he was hell-bent on me doing that character. He got to Bharat Shah, who lived in my mother-in-law’s building, and he then went to my mother-in-law. It was her who convinced me to do Border.”

Although Suniel eventually agreed, he told his mother-in-law that he might get into a physical fight with the filmmaker if wasn’t respectful toward him. “I told mom that he is hot-headed and he might say things. I am hot-headed too. I might use my arm for certain things. So, I don’t want to beat up JP Dutta on the set.”

Responding to that, the director had apparently said that he “only gets upset when people don’t give their 100%”. So did the two ever get into a fight on the set? “It has happened a few times, not on set, but outside, when we were troubled.”

A still from the film
A still from the film

That said, 26 years after the release of Border, Suniel also considers JP as his ‘guru’. “After working with him in Border, I realised he is in love with the Indian forces. Otherwise, he would have been a commercial director. He would have done 100 films, but he only did what he believed in. For me, he is my guru today, master craftsman and phenomenal human being.”

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