Ten Bollywood films that made patriotism cool
New Delhi: Traditionally, patriotism in Bollywood has translated into a few staple genres- Manoj Kumar’s turn as the son of the soil in films like Upkar and Purab Aur Paschim and a bunch of war films (ironically though there is one slated for release next month- JP Dutta’s Paltan). Over the past few years however, a sub-genre of cool, patriotic films has emerged in Hindi cinema. A few filmmakers have turned the definitions of what makes for a good patriotic Indian around. A look at ten such films.
1. Lagaan: Once Upon A Time in India (2001)- Aamir Khan’s first film production was the story of a group of villagers fighting British colonizers for tax reduction, an act of betrayal that results in a challenge to play and win a game of cricket. The Ashutosh Gowariker directed film made Rs 34 crore at the box office and became the third, and as of now, the last Indian film to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
2. Swades (2004)- In the Ashutosh Gowariker directed film, Shah Rukh Khan plays an NRI distraught by the poverty and inequality in the country, who decides to come back home. One of the first studio products in the country, the film came out when Ronnie Screwvala’s UTV Motion Pictures was only beginning to take shape. A commercial failure at Rs. 16 crore, it has acquired cult status over the years.
3. Lakshya (2004)- Hrithik Roshan plays an aimless young man who comes into his own in Farhan Akhtar’s drama set against the backdrop of the 1999 Kargil War. The film co-starring Preity Zinta and Amitabh Bachchan made Rs. 23 crore in box office collections.
4. Rang De Basanti (2006)- The Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra directed film tells the story of a British filmmaker shooting a documentary on Indian freedom fighters in a narrative that alternates between the independence movement and contemporary times. With a screenplay that was unapologetic in posing solutions for societal evils, the film both came under fierce criticism and is held responsible for inspiring the people’s movement in the real-life Jessica Lal murder case. Featuring an ensemble cast including Siddharth Narayan, Aamir Khan, Soha Ali Khan, Kunal Kapoor, R. Madhavan and Sharman Joshi, it made Rs. 53 crore in box office collections and was one of the highest grossers of its time.
5. Chak De! India (2007)- Shimit Amin’s iconic sports drama is the fictional tale of the Indian women’s hockey team and their fight to win the World Cup against odds as diverse as racism and sexism. Shah Rukh Khan was featured alongside several then-unknown female faces in the film that made Rs. 66 crore at the box office and won the National Film Award for Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment.
6. A Wednesday! (2008)- Neeraj Pandey’s directorial debut questions injustices meted out on a regular basis in Indian society, through the eyes of a common man. The thriller that earned Rs. 11 crore in box office collections, opened doors for several multiplex films to be made for urban, discerning audiences in the coming years and won the Indira Gandhi Award for Best Debut Film of a Director at the National Film Awards that year.
7. Airlift (2016)- The historical drama directed by Raja Krishna Menon was based on the real-life evacuation of Indians based in Kuwait during the invasion of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. One of the first films to bring to the fore lead actor Akshay Kumar’s penchant for patriotic tales, it made Rs. 123 crore in box office collections.
8. Newton (2017)- Amit V. Masurkar’s widely acclaimed black comedy features Rajkummar Rao as a rookie government clerk, struggling to conduct free and fair elections in the tribal areas of Central India. The film is both a comment on the malpractices that plague the electoral system in India and a perfect elucidation of the resilient Indian who can combat them all. It made Rs. 22 crore at the box office, won the National Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi and was selected as the Indian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards.
9. Raazi (2018)- Alia Bhatt plays an Indian spy married to a Pakistani military officer in the jingoism-free Meghna Gulzar directed film. An adaptation of Harinder Sikka’s novel Calling Sehmat which is inspired by real events during the 1971 Indo-Pak war, the film earned much praise besides Rs. 122 crore at the box office.
10. Mulk (2018)- Released earlier this month, Anubhav Sinha’s drama set in Varanasi, tells the story of a Muslim family trying to reclaim its lost honour and touches upon fundamental issues of inclusion and togetherness in India. The Rishi Kapoor and Taapsee Pannu-starrer had made Rs. 8 crore at last count.
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