Indian patriotism in Bollywood Films: The celluloid journey

Border-Hindi Movie PosterAug 14, 2011 (Calcutta Tube / IBNS): As India turns 64 on Monday and the entire nation gears up to celebrate Independece day, it is time to look back into the best possible films that has highlighted patriotism on celluloid. A report..

Since the early days of Independece, B-town has made several films to showcase the pain and torture Indians faced in the dark days of British rule. Later Manoj Kumar captured many patriotic components in his films.

Films like ‘Shaheed‘, and later a not so critically acclaimed ‘Kranti‘, had depicted the emotions attached with independence. In fact Manoj Kumar who played  the lead role in the film Shaheed is considered to be one of the pioneer actors who acted in  numerous films dedicated to patriotism.

[ReviewAZON asin=”B001CXHXYK” display=”inlinepost”]”My all time favourite patriotic song is Aye Watan Aye Watan,” Manoj Kumar said in an inteview to a national news channel recently.

Kumar, who was named Bharat in many films, became a symbol of patriotic films for decades and in every movie that he made, India’s freedom struggle and the battle against extraneous forces became a constant- be it Purav Aur Paschim or Roti, Kapda Aur Makan. 

But apart from the freedom struggle of India, the silver screen has depicted the several battle India is fighting against the social evils and troubles since the time it got independence from their colonial rulers.

Mother India‘ which was released in 1957 and featured Sunil Dutt and actor Nargis in the lead is one such iconic movie that depicted the growth and development of the Indian  woman through the lead character Radha. Played by Nargis Dutt, she represented India as a nation in the aftermath of Independence.

Directed by Mehboob Khan the film was India’s first submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1958 and was selected as one of the five nominations for the category.

Similarly in this long 64 years history India had fought four battles with their neighbouring nations- Pakistan and China.

And the Indian directors had also depicted those dark days of wars after Independence in films like ‘Border’, ‘LOC Kargil’, ‘Ab Tumhare Hawale Watan Saathiyo’, ‘Lakshya’, ‘Hum Dono’, ‘Tango Charlie’ and ‘Vijeta’.

But one should not forget the Chetan Anand movie Haqeeqat made in 1964. It is perhaps one of the first Hindi war films starring Balraj Sahni, Dharmendra and Priya Rajvansh on the 1962 Sino-Indian War backdrop.

The  journey of capturing Indian freedom was not an easy one and several people gave their lives to gain it. But amidst those people there were certain icons or heroes who ignited that flame in Indians and helped them take the path of achieveing freedom.

From MK Gandhi to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Indian directors have potrayed their lives and their struggles quite efficiently on the cellouloid in these years.

Films like ”Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey’, ‘Bose – The Forgotten Hero’, ‘Legend of Bhagat Singh’, ‘Mangal Pandey’, ‘Sardar’ have dedicated the lives of these legends who had dedicated their lives in gaining India independence.

In this long journey of Bollywood, the entire concept of patriotism underwent a transformation with time.

As time passed by, directors started to divert from the battles fought for Independece from British to the fight and struggle  the independent India has faced at different junctures.
So later films concentrated more on the battle within and sometimes the enemy is India’s difficult neighbour Pakistan.
So we find a wave of Sunny Doel movies where the enemy is forces in Pakistan. From the period films like the histrionics high “Gadar: Ek Prem Katha”to playing an Indian military officer in Maa Tujhhe Salaam and The Hero: Love Story of a Spy. He also essayed the role of freedom fighter Chandrashekhar Azad in 23rd March 1931: Shaheed.

From corruption to terrorism, the seventy mm silver screen has depicted stories on several such topics.

Films like ‘Swadesh: We the People’,  ‘Rang De Basanti’, ‘Wednesday’, ‘Roja’, ‘Bombay’ are all patriotic films with different messages.

‘Swadesh: We, the People’ featured SRK in the lead role that depicted the inner battle of an NRI scientist who decided to return back to India after feeling that his country needs  his service  more than the foreign land.

Directed by Ashutosh Gowarikar the film received good response from the critics and specially the NRI community.

Since 2000, Indian films also depicted the love of Indians and their fight in the sporting fields  to conquer the number one position in the filed of sports. And in these films, the period was once again India under British yoke.

Iconic films like ‘Lagaan’ and ‘Chak De India’ potrayed  the fight of Indian sportsman for their mother nation.

The character of Bhuvan played  by Aamir Khan  in the film ‘Lagaan’ and the character of Kabir Khan portrayed by SRK in ‘Chak De India’ reached cult status.

As India gets ready to celebrate 64th independence on Monday, the movie lovers can expect more meaningful patriotic movies to entertain and usher the emotions in them in the coming days.

– Supriyo Hazra

1 thought on “Indian patriotism in Bollywood Films: The celluloid journey

  1. Ye Mothers (Hindi)
    In the Pre-Independence era the nation was burning with the desire of Independence and the British were struggling to control the rampaging non-violent movement on the one side and the revolutionary strikes on the other, two young girls Shanti Ghosh & Suniti Chaudhary echoed Indian sprit through their sacrifice. On 14th December 1931 at about 10 am the two girls approached the District collector Mr.C.G.B. Steven at his bungalow with a petition for permission for a swimming club. When face to face with him they fired at the collector and shot him dead. This heroic action of the two young girls thrilled the country from one end to other. Their unusual claim, serenity and cheerfulness seen all through their under trial days in the prison and in the court, struck one and all with wonder. All the time they song and laughed, they expected to die a martyr’s death, but in view of their tender age, they were given the sentence of life imprisonment. Though a bit disappointed, they took the judgment cheerfully and bravely and entered the portals of the prison house, singing aloud Poet Nazurul’s famous song “OH BREAK DOWN THOSE IRON BARS! BURN AWAY ALL THESE PRISON HOUSES!”
    After serving the awarded term in Alipore Jail, Kolkatta, they resumed their studies and Shanti Ghosh served as MLA from Kolkatta Assembly continuously 16 years (from 1952 to 1968), and Suniti Chaudhary became an MBBS doctor.



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