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Series / Fauji

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Fauji was a single season, 13-episode Hindi language TV show broadcast on the government-run Doordarshan network in India in 1989. The show was the first ever one that Shahrukh Khan got a starring role in. Like most prime time Indian TV shows of that era, Fauji was split into half-hour episodes. All episodes can be viewed on YouTube.

The show is about a group of newly-minted second lieutenants going through training to qualify as Para-commando (Special Forces) squad leaders. The show follows a class as they learn the tools of the trade, navigate tough instructors as well as relationships, and in the final 3 episodes, go on an actual commando raid mission. Khan stars as 2nd Lt Abhimanyu Rai, a previously happy-go-lucky playboy type who joins the army just so his war hero elder brother, Vikram, gets off his back about being a YOLO player. Abhi signs up for Commando school, only to find out that Vikram is an instructor there. While going through training, Abhi falls for a young army doctor who has been posted there, while Vikram tries to start a relationship with a journalist. Other trainees have issues to navigate as well, be it the enlisted commando trying to get a money-hungry canteen owner's blessing to marry his daughter, or the married (apparently) commando trainee who tries to hide this fact from his superiors.

At the end, the group are assigned to lead a commando raid on an enemy forward base. Will they succeed? Who will return and who won't make it back?

Tropes encountered in this show are:

  • Aloof Big Brother: Vikram initially. He becomes less aloof as the series progresses.
  • Artistic License – Military: Nobody would send a bunch of greenhorn 2nd looeys just out of Commando School on an important mission by themselves. Usually, these officers would have to learn the ropes from a captain in command of a platoon. Averted with the training program itself, however; Commando School is actually for officers only, with enlisted men expected to learn from senior Sergeant Rock Havildars in the unit. Therefore, the drill sergeants are officers.
  • Big Brother Mentor: Major Vikram Rai to 2nd Lt. Abhimanyu Rai.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Do not ask Major Narayanan any questions while he is instructing the class. Just... don't!
    • Mentioning Peter becomes one for Devender.
  • Brooding Boy, Gentle Girl: Vikram and Kiran. Initially, it starts out as Wild Kiran liking Uptight Vikram, one-sided though it may be. Later on, when Vikram has a bout of post-traumatic stress, he opens up to her, and their dynamic turns to this. He is still unable to gauge that she likes him as more than a friend.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Peter is facing a court-martial apparently for having a tryst with his wife in the dormitory allocated for Commando School trainees. Normally, such an action should have only warranted a non-judicial slap on the wrist, followed by increased hazing from the Drill Sergeant Nasty equivalent. A court-martial for lying and conduct unbecoming seems excessive. However...
    • It Makes Sense in Context: Peter never informed the army he was married, instead opting to tell them he was single. Therefore, had he perpetuated this lie, Cynthia would have been denied some very cushy benefits afforded to a military dependent. These include free on-base housing allotment, access to subsidized schooling for their children, free healthcare (a big deal in India), free travel on the railways, subsidized groceries, even alcohol rations. Had Peter died in the line of duty, Cynthia would have been eligible for even more benefits as a survivor, including a government "widow pension", guaranteed income from an allotted franchise in a nationalized company, reserved college seat for offspring, even a reserved government job if she wanted it. By not informing the army, Peter was essentially cheating Cynthia out of all this.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Major Rai slightly averts this trope, being more like a Sergeant Rock and A Father to His Men. Major Narayanan, however, plays this straight.
  • The General's Daughter: Kiran is the base commandant's daughter, and pursues Vikram. This trope may be a reason why he is initially uninterested. In the end though, they do get together and the general doesn't seem to mind. Vikram being a decorated war veteran and an Officer and a Gentleman may have something to do with it.
  • The Engineer: Vikram was a Sapper before becoming a commando. He earned the Mahavir Chakra India's second highest award for valor in combat for neutralizing enemy demolition charges on a strategically important bridge while under fire, but had to watch a Havildar sacrifice himself so Vikram could be safely Medevac'd.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Yaseen Khan. Also Havildar Kalyan Singh in a previous battle.
  • Hospital Hottie: Madhu, the doctor assigned to the school who becomes Abhi's Love Interest.
  • It's All About Me: Peter invites his wife Cynthia to spend the night with him, knowing full well that it was against regulations. He then tries to guilt-trip his roommate Dev to cover for him. When his roommate tells on him, Peter still doesn't take responsibility, instead trying to pick a fight with Dev.
  • Majorly Awesome: Vikram and Narayanan.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Vikram means "brave".
    • Abhimanyu was a mythological teenaged warrior who found himself trapped behind enemy lines but made a heroic Last Stand to save the day for his army.
    • Madhu the Love Interest's name translates to "honey".
  • Overly Long Name: Varuneshwar Sinhji Parameshwar Chavan. He goes by Varun though.
  • Parental Marriage Veto: Kishore, the junior enlisted para-commando wants to marry his girlfriend Parvathi the daughter of the base canteen's proprietor Sethji. However, Sethji doesn't want his daughter marrying a "common" soldier. His refusal seems to be based on caste and economic class rather than Kishore's trustworthiness.
  • Put on a Bus to Hell: Peter is unceremoniously dropped from the class and is facing a court-martial for willful misrepresentation and conduct unbecoming an officer.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran/Survivor Guilt/Trigger: Vikram Rai is triggered while instructing the class on bridge demolition. He flashes back to an earlier mission where he got shot while neutralizing charges on a bridge's abutment. The Havildar escorting him sacrificed his own life to pull an injured Vikram to safety. Not even apologizing to the Havildar's parents seems to have helped.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Shahrukh Khan's character Abhimanyu Rai gives off a very stalkerish vibe while pursuing Madhu. He harangues her at her clinic, pesters her, even making an empty suicide threat to get her to go to a dance, even attempts to malinger his way out of training to go see her. She finally gives in to his advances.
  • Verbal Tic: Varuneshwar's "I say, chaps/buddy!"
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Varun.