I was inspired to write this review in response to the reviewer who thinks that this is a Spanish-language film, and the other reviewer who seems to think this is a movie about soccer. Oh dear. Perhaps it should be said up front that this is a Hindi movie, filmed in India, about India, with Indian actors. Spanish and soccer are both completely unrelated.
The film opens with an Indian journalist visiting three soldiers stationed at the front during the 1999 Kargil war, fought between India and Pakistan in the region of Kashmir. The three soldiers each give the journalist their "last letters" - letters that are to be delivered to their family members in the event that the soldiers are killed in combat. As we learn very early on, each of the three soldiers are, in fact, killed during the war. Fast forward three years, and two slacker film students are about to fail film school unless they produce a "final film project" for their professor. The students decide to film a documentary on why you should *not* join the Indian army, and their first interviewee is the Indian journalist we met earlier. He decides to send them on a (hopefully) enlightening journey, and gives them the three soldiers' letters, instructing them to deliver the letters to the soldiers' families (it's never really explained why he held onto them these three years, except to use them as "research").
From this point onward, the film becomes a three-part tale, as the students travel to three disparate regions of India to visit three very different families. The stories of the three soldiers unfold, and we meet very different people. First there is the Punjabi Sikh (played beautifully by Salman Khan) from a rural village who left behind a widow (Preity Zinta) and young son, now struggling financially. A particularly poignant moment occurs when the two slacker students see the barbed wire barrier separating Punjab from Pakistan, and realize for the first time that the land is identical on either side. Second, there is the brash army officer (Bobby Deol) from Manali, whose death left behind his Air Force officer brother (played by real-life brother Sunny Deol). Third, there is the young soldier (Dino Morea) whose death shook his parents to the core, such that his father (Mithun Chakraborty) has actually turned against the memory of his own son.
There are many heartbreaking scenes, including the bereft widow encountering her husband's uniform and the bereft father who is finally able to grieve for his son. Although it may feel like the film is tugging on your emotions in very obvious ways, it is notable that it never demonizes the other side in the conflict; the Pakistani soldiers are described as just doing their job, like the Indian soldiers have to do theirs. This detail saves the film from crossing the line into overly-saccharine patriotism, as the patriotic element is tempered by the fact that neither side is considered to be right or wrong - the only "right" is love for your country, whichever country that may happen to be.
The film is not without its occasional discordant moments, however. An extended sequence toward the beginning introduces us to the two miscreant students, and it's a bit off-key. We are made to understand, through an overly long and not terribly funny sequence of events, that these are two self-involved, unaware slackers. This could have been accomplished in less time and without the disruption to the tone of the rest of the film. There's also an action sequence involving Sunny Deol that might leave some viewers scratching their head, unless you're already familiar with the fact that he's known for being an action star. Personally, I thought Sunny Deol was pretty kick-ass in the sequence.
The two students are played by Vatsal Seth and Sohail Khan. Sohail was, by the end, surprisingly moving (I had only seen him do broad comedy before this). When he cries, you want to cry also. Vatsal is a bit stiffer than Sohail, but he sure is pretty - ladies, you won't get tired of looking at him, even if he doesn't emote quite as well as Sohail does.
Also, the end of the movie will make you smile, especially if you're a Salman Khan fan. But I won't say any more about that - it's a surprise.