Bollywood has seen many unforgettable patriotic films like Lagaan, Swades, URI and powerful characters played by Akshay Kumar, John Abraham and more. However, the majority have been male leaders influencing the country as they fight for the nation while on the frontlines, behind desks or on fields. Fortunately, in recent years, we have also gotten a chance to see female actors take on these roles inspired by real life ‘sheroes’. Over the years, Bollywood has presented few but powerful portrayals of patriotic women on the big screen.
This Independence day we salute the fictional and real women who have influenced generations to uphold the country’s pride, and fight for its honour.
Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil War
The soon-to-release Netflix film is based on Gunjan Saxena, India’s first-ever woman IAF pilot in combat. She was honoured with the Shaurya Vir award for displaying courage and grit during the Kargil War in 1999, when she rescued soldiers along with Flight Lieutenant Srividya Rajan. The film will follow Gunjan’s journey from childhood as she becomes a pilot with her family’s support and hard work, only to face discrimination at the Srinagar Air Field after joining IAF.
Saand Ki Aankh
Starring Taapsee Pannu and Bhumi Pednekar, Saand Ki Aankh was away from the frontlines and yet they proved to be a part of the fight just as much. The film follows Chandro and Prakashi, who live in a patriarchal society and are in their 60s. As they discover their shooting skills, the duo go on to become the face of India’s fierce women on the national and international stage, in a male-dominated society.
Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi
The Kangana Ranaut-starrer showcased the empowering story of a female warrior, Manikarnika, the wife of the King of Jhansi, who refused to bow down when the East India Company tried to annex the kingdom. The rebellion started by her soon turned into a fiery revolution against the British Raj in India. Known as Rani Laxmi Bai and Jhansi Ki Rani, she became a symbol of resistance and the Indian Rebellion of 1857.
Raazi is another film that proved women’s ability to serve their nation and how they too would go to any extent to do it. The film is a real and untold story of a Muslim girl Sehmat, who married into a Pakistan family as an Indian female spy during the Indo-Pak war of 1971. Sehmat herself is an exemplary example of how a woman can become a contributor to the country, and possess the same patriotic zeal and dedication as men in the army.
Directed by Ram Madhvani, the film is a biopic on the Indian air hostess and model, Neerja Bhanot. Neerja had sacrificed her life while saving 359 passengers in her Pan Am flight 73, which was hijacked by terrorists in 1986. The film shocked the audience through its heartbreaking story, realistic descriptions and its message of patriotism and bravery.
Chak de! India
Another film away from the war that rose viewers’ patriotic feelings was Chak de! India. The film is a fictitious representation of the Indian women’s hockey team that wins the world cup. The film follows a former hockey player who becomes the coach of a hockey team of 11 women and trains them well into a team of champions. The sports drama with women players heightened the feeling of patriotism, nationalism and women empowerment in the audience.