Takes on patriotism

first_imgFrom films made by Dada Saheb Phalke in the early 1900s to Akshay Kumar starrer Mission Mangal in 2019, Bollywood has based films on patriotism that have never failed to rekindle the ‘josh’ of nationalism in every Indian. Since the pre-Independence era, we’ve seen the industry churn out films such as Dr. Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani (1946), Jhansi Ki Rani (1953), Shaheed Bhagat Singh (1954), Naya Daur (1957), Upkaar (1967), Purab Aur Paschim (1970), Border (1997), Rang De Basanti (2006), right down Raazi (2018) to Uri: The Surgical Strike (2019).The Father of Indian Cinema Dhudiraj Govind Phalke, aka Dada Saheb Phalke, was the first to lace his films with a message of building a new progressive India. Even though most of his films such as Raja Harischandra, Lanka Dahen and Satyavan Savitri, were rooted in Hindu mythology, Phalke subtly introduced a note on nationalism.Inspired by the French film Life of Christ, he decided to make the first full length Indian feature film Raja Harischandra and establish a new industry that would create art by an Indian, for an Indian. Despite being silent Raja Harishchandra created a lot of buzz because Phalke, amongst other things, raised his voice against the concept of women as a man’s property. In his Kaliya Mardan people took the snake Kaliya as symbolic of British atrocities and its slaying by Krishna as freedom from slavery.Movies like these set an example for “future” filmmakers such as V Shantaram, Manoj Kumar and much later J.P.Dutta, Ashutosh Gowarikar and Rakeysh Om Prakash Mehra to present their perception of nationalism through cinema. In 1931, when India was struggling for liberation from the British Raj, Shantaram iconised Chhatrapati Shivaji in a Marathi film called Swarajyache Toran or the flag of Independence.advertisementThe film garnered controversy with the British censor as it depicted Shivaji uprooting the Raj, symbolised in the climax scene where he took down the Union Jack to unfurl his own emblem. The film took seven years to release with a new name, Udaykaal, and deleted scenes, including that of the flag hoisting. In 1965, Manoj Kumar donned the hat of freedom fighter Bhagat Singh in Shaheed, which led the then Prime Minister of India, the late Lal Bahadur Shastri to ask him to create a film based on his slogan ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kisaan’ after the 1965 Indo-Pak war.This seems to have opened the floodgates for Kumar’s – who called himself ‘Bharat’ (India) in every future film – patriotism with films such as Upkaar, Purab Aur Paschim and Kranti (1981). Shantaram too continued his streak of nationalism with Do Aankhen Baraah Haath (1957) where six dangerous prisoners were reformed and rehabilitated by a jail warden into persons of virtue. The film taught that if people focus on hard work and dedication and channelised energy in the right direction they can always succeed.Chetan Anand’s 1964 multi-starrer hit Haqeeqat, based on the Sino-Indian war of 1962 was another one of the major border patriotism films post-Independence after the 1948 Dilip Kumar starrer Shaheed, which mainly dealt with the life of a disillusioned son of a rich father set against the backdrop of the 1942 Quit India movement.This border patriotism was rekindled in the 1980s by Shashi Kapoor’s landmark Vijeta which was against the backdrop of the IndiaPakistan war of 1971. From the 1990s J.P. Dutta took on the Indo-Pak conflict in films such as Border, Refugee, and LOC Kargil (2003).With the turn of the century patriotism took on a more mature perception evident in films such as Rang De Basanti, which mobilised the Indian youth to raise its voice against corruption at various levels; Swades (2004), where a successful non-resident Indian returns to India to help in its progress; Chak De! India (2007)and Bhaag Milka Bhaag (2013) which looked at a different kind of ‘border patriotism’ with sports rather than guns.But filmmakers returned to the border conflict again after the Kargil war of 1999, bringing on films such as LOC Kargil, Hrithik Roshan starrer Lakshya 2004), Deewar (2004), Tango Charlie (2005), Ek Tha Tiger (2012) the recent Parmanu (2018), Raazi and Uri.Interestingly, the most depicted freedom fighters of Indian history are Bhagat Singh and Mangal Pandey. Not long ago Bhagat Singh had three films being made on him simultaneously.Remarkably with every progressive step the country embarked on, Bollywood was quick to grab the opportunity in mirroring the socio-economic and political change through its movies. Every Indian doesn’t mind saying Sar Kata Sakte Hai Lekin Sar Jhuka Sakte Nahin and in the same breath shake a leg to Chak De India and Jai Ho. So it won’t be wrong to say from time to time Bollywood presents the theme of patriotism like old wine in a new bottle.advertisementlast_img

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