The theme of patriotism has been delved in Indian cinema many a times. Cinema has also redefined the way we perceive the whole concept of nationalism and our love for the country. Films in earlier times typically depicted the hero in love with his motherland and ready to die to save the honour of his country. Cult films like ‘Purab Paschim’, ‘ Kranti’, ‘Mera Gaon Mera Des’ and many other films revolved around patriotism in its truest form. The films also reflected a society which was emotional about its country, its new found freedom and its rights and perhaps that’s why the depiction was sometimes melodramatic.
Over the years, patriotism as a theme has been used in many films, but its treatment, just like the evolving Indian society, has also changed immensely. The hero is still willing to sacrifice his life for his motherland, but may not be so melodramatic about it. He may die of bullets but may not deliver a long farewell speech before he breaths his last. Young generation treats patriotism in their own way. Let’s take look at new generation films which have redefined patriotism for us.
Rang De Basanti
No list on patriotic films is complete without this Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra classic. This coming of age film started a trend of sorts for the numerous peaceful protests at India Gate that took place after the film was released. A story of five carefree youngsters who are jolted to reality after a friend’s death redefined the way we youngsters perceived patriotism. Starring Aamir Khan, Kunal Kapoor, Sharman Joshi, Sidharth and Soha Ali Khan, the film dealt with issues like corruption and other loopholes in the society.
Set in the aftermath of the 7/11 attack in Mumbai, which crippled the city due to bomb blasts in the locals, the film showed the other side of the Indian. The film showcased that India was no longer willing to be at the mercy of a hapless government. Starring Naseeruddin Shah and Anupam Kher, the film was written and directed by debutant filmmaker Neeraj Pandey.
Yes it was a thriller and story of a pregnant Vidya Balan looking for her lost husband in the streets of Kolkata. But the film had an underlying theme of patriotism where a woman is specially trained by the intelligence to eradicate a dreaded terrorist from the face of earth.
Chak De! India
Shah Rukh Khan played a fallen hockey hero who makes a comeback to coach the Indian women’s hockey team. The film also established the fact that when it came to protecting the honour of one’s country religion took a backseat. The film had a muslim hero, accused to giving away a winning match to Pakistan, resurrecting his career and the nation’s honour.
Hrithik Roshan played a reluctant soldier who was initially clueless about his life and how his inclusion in the Indian army and Kargil war changes his perception about life and his country.
Intelligence agents never looked so hot. Sanjay Dutt, Abhishek Bachchan, Zayed Khan and Shilpa Shetty played officers of the Anti Terrorist Squad who put their country before their family. The plot revolved around ATS officers flying to Toronto to arrest a dreaded terrorist Jamwal who no one has seen before and who had plans to assassinate the Indian Prime Minster who was there on a visit. A high octane thriller, the film was popular for its music and stellar performance the star cast.
One usually doesn’t go wrong when there is Aamir Khan and Naseruddin Shah in a film together. John Mathew Mathan’s film on cross border terrorism had Shah playing a ghazal singer who was also a secret ISI agent. Aamir played ACP Rathod who is a righteous cop whose family goes through trials after his brother is killed by a terrorist group. The film dealt with the strain relationship that India and Pakistan shares but the entire issue was dealt in the most realistic manner. There was no chest thumping screaming jargons about mother land, there was no bashing of the neighbouring country and yet the emotions of righteous police officer out to nail the dreaded spy was portrayed subtly yet beautifully.
Kashmir, the pristine valley and the outlawed youth were beautifully captured in this Vidhu Vinod Chopra film. Chopra, who spent his childhood in Kashmir, showcased the story of the locals and how terrorism had tarnished the image of an otherwise peaceful state. The film captured the patriotic Army officer’s (Sanjay Dutt) desperate attempt to get back his outlawed son (Hrithik Roshan) home and the inner conflict that he has to go through – to choose between his country and his family.