Patriotism in Indian Cinema

by Pranay Rupani - Date: 2008-07-31 - Word Count: 1041 Share This!

For any self-respecting nation, patriotism of its citizens is its heart-beat. If it is there, not only is the nation's continued existence across centuries and millennia guaranteed, but is progressive evolution is also ensured. It if is not there, the nation suffers decline, debility and eventual doom.

India is fondly called 'Bharati' by its people. The name harks back to its epic past, whose beginnings have defied determination. Hence, India evokes a sense of timelessness. Of course, India has been changing perpetually ever since its hoary antiquity. It has also suffered such vicissitudes of history as have pushed several other ancient nations and civilizations into extinction. How then has India faced all these internal changes and external assaults, and yet managed to remain alive as a vibrant and ascendant nation in the 21st century? The answer is: Patriotism - the common emotion and self-awareness that unites our people in spite of the unmatched diversity they exhibit.

As an art form that strikes the chords of both emotion and intellect, the power of cinema is unmatched. Naturally, Indian cinema has contributed immensely to the cultivation of this uniting and uplifting feeling of nationalism. Patriotic films, as a special and much-admired genre of Indian cinema, have had a tremendous impact on our people, cutting across religious, regional, linguistic and economic identities. Moreover, they have also proved their unsurpassed power of communicating both to educated and illiterate masses.

For most Indians, cinema is the enduring source of the image of their nation as a vast and diverse land bound by the Himalayas in the north, surrounded by oceans on three sides, girdled by sacred rivers like the Ganga, Yamuna and Godavari, and blessed with captivating natural beauty and rich resources. For them it is also the primary source of knowledge about our national heroes, martyrs, the struggles and sacrifices of our forefathers, the work of our social reformers, the wars of the pre-and-post-Independence era, including the recent and ongoing war against cross-border terrorism, and our achievements as a free and democratic nation.

Thus, few can contest Indian cinema's, particularly Hindi cinema's, unmatched contribution to strengthening the bonds of national integration, countering divisive feelings, educating the people about our shared national history and, through all this, re-enforcing in them pride and love for the Motherland.

Ananya Bharati is a documentary that encapsulates the spirit of patriotism that the Hindi film industry has captured on celluloid and nurtured in the hearts of Indians. Produced under the banner of my company, Swayam Infotainment, I thought the most apt beginning to this documentary would be ace musician A.R. Rahman, bowing to the motherland with his rendition of Maa Tujhe Salaam. This forms a part of his album VANDE MATARAM produced by BharatBala Pictures. Ananya Bharati categorises Indian patriotic Indian patriotic films primarily into three categories. The first category comprises films associated with terrorism. The second, features films about martyrs of the freedom struggle and events linked to the partition of the country and the third category has war films that depict the India-Pakistan conflict.

Ananya Bharati also talks about films on nation-building like the recently released Swades. The documentary concludes with an emotional punch in the form of a bouquet of patriotic songs that have captured the national imagination.

Patriotic Films - The Beginning

The Hindi film industry's adoption of patriotic themes happened at its very inception, when India was engaged in a unique struggle for freedom from the British colonial rule. The first film which boldly ventured in this direction was Sohrab Modi's Sikandar. This 1941 film carried the message of patriotism indirectly by praising the valour of King Porus in his war against the invader, Alexander the Great. Other films of this era were Bandhan (1940) and Kismet (1943).

When freedom dawned on 15th August 1947, ending 200 years of alien rule, the Indian film industry was there to celebrate this historic transition. The air those days was filled with the hopes and dreams of building a New India, most inspiringly articulated by our first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Bollywood captured this mood in films like Naya Daur (1957) and Hum Hindustani (1960). Anand Math (1952), Jaagriti (1954) and Leader (1964) focused on the freedom struggle and the sacrifices made by its martyrs. Some others like Sikander-E-Azam (1965) and Jis Desh Mein Ganga Beheti Hai (1960), through their songs, talked about the greatness of India. Then there were films that were inspired by the violation of the country's barriers by its enemies. Three notable films made on the subject were Haqeeqat (1964), Prem Pujari (1970) and Lalkar (1972). Of these, Haqeeqat, which is about the Chinese aggression in 1962, has left a lasting impact.

Some recently made films on the subject:

Also set against the backdrop of the Partition is the 2003 film Pinjar, a cinematic adaptation of Amrita Pritam's famous novel of the same name, by Dr. Chandraprakash Dwivedi. Incidentally, he had made a highly popular TV serial Chanakya, which chose an Indian hero of ancient times to transmit many contemporary messages. Showing the trauma of partition, the film powerfully conveyed that atrocity does not have any religion and sounded the warning that history must not be allowed to repeat itself.

The great revolutionaries of the freedom movement like Sardar Patel, Udham Singh and Vinayak Damodar Savarkar inspired many film make to make films on them. Veer Savarkar's inspirational life was the subject of a film - Veer Savarkar by Ved Rahi in 2001.

Any description of the films in this category would be woefully incomplete without reference to Indian cinema's fascination with the life and martyrdom of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, who kissed the British gallows at the tender age of twenty four. His life story has never failed to inspire the masses. Innumerable songs have been composed about hi, and the youth throughout the country have idolized him. He ahs been a symbol of bravey and nationalism. Manoj Kumar's SHAHEED (1965), which contained the immortal song Mera rang de basanti chola, was the first of the series. The year 2002 alone saw five films added this series! Two of them featured mega stars in the lead role - Ajay Devgan in The Legend of Bhagat Singh and Bobby Deol in 23rd March 1931 - Shaheed.

ProVFX Visual Effects and Editing School has been written by Pranay Rupani who is a Freelance Writer

Related Tags: bollywood, hindi movies, bollywood movies, bollywood hindi movies, hindi films, hindi cinema, hindi film culture, hindi movie culture, bollywood culture, bollywood films, indian cinema, indian films, madhava prasad, indain film psychology, bollywood genres, hindi genres

Freelance writer for MetroMela and Channel 6 Magazine. Managing partner of ProVFX Visual Effects and Editing School.

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