Tango Charlie recounts the life of a soldier in the Border Security Force(BSF), in the process showing us the true(and ugly) face of war. The movie works when it focusses on war and an individual thrown in the middle of it but being a Hindi movie, it does not stick to just that. A detached romance and jingoistic heroism drain away some of the effect of what could've been a hardhitting, emotional war movie.
The soldier is Tarun Chauhan(Bobby Deol), codenamed Tango Charlie, who is first sent to the Manipur forests as part of a taskforce to flush out militants. The unit's leader is constable Muhammad Ali(Ajay Devgan). We then follow Tarun as he then fights naxalites in Andhra Pradesh, quells the riots in Gujarat and protects a key bridge in the Kargil war.
Director Mani Shankar could not have chosen a worse way of linking together the different episodes in Bobby Deol's life as a soldier. Here Sanjay Dutt and Suneil Shetty rescue Bobby Deol from a snowy area and while flying him back, read his personal diary. Even keeping aside the fact that the two soldiers are reading another's personal diary, the conversations the two have are juvenile and the two high-profile actors(in cameos) are quite unconvincing in their casual banter.
Bobby Deol's experiences help show his gradual growth as a soldier(though I couldn't help wondering if there were no other soldiers in the BSF since he keeps getting sent to every major hotspot in the country!). He has to fight not just wars but personal demons too. The director does well in keeping the focus on him by providing a personal angle for him(like the superior's action, the death of an innocent man, etc.) in all the episodes though the conflicts themselves have a larger canvas. So we get to understand him and the principles he stands for and this makes these portions engaging.
Romance is introduced into the movie as an obvious ploy to lighten the proceedings. It seems detached from the movie and since it isn't interesting or engaging, the movie comes to a standstill during these portions. Tanisha portrays an interesting character of a very modern girl who's not shy about asking for a kiss. But the romance seems to have been played more for laughs. Ajay Devgan's romance with Nandana Sen is more passionate and circumstantial but doesn't strike a chord because of its unbelievable foundation.
The director selects well-known incidents to involve Bobby Deol in. His scenes for the most part are also realistically portrayed without any larger-than-life heroics. But the movie gets afflicted with the same problem that Lakshya had. It wants to end with a bang and so gets its hero to engage in some unrealistic, heroic stunts in the climax. That makes the climax seem like that of a regular, commercial potboiler than of the war movie it had tried to be until then.