It is said that films are a mirror that reflect us and the world around. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why we find ourselves drawn to the characters in them. At the same time, films are also been instrumental in evoking patriotic spirit and bringing about social changes in the society.
With just a week remaining for Independence Day, let’s take a look at how the portrayal of patriotism on the big screen has changed in the last 73 years, since India became a free nation.
As a young independent nation, 1950s and 1960s was the time when India was struggling with post-colonial issues. Nation-building was the main focus, and hence most of the films celebrated the idea of progressive nationalism and socialism. Some of the most popular films of this era include Nargis’ Mother India, Raj Kapoor’s Awaara, Dilip Kumar’s Naya Daur, Bimal Roy’s Do Bigha Zamin, Dilip Kumar’s Leader, Manoj Kumar’s Upkar among others.
Further, the Sino-Indian war in 1962 started the trend of war films like Chetan Anand’s Haqeeqat to motivate the youth in the country.
The socio-economic and socio-political climate of 1970s India was reflected in films as well. Films with anti-establishment themes and those involving themes like corruption, crime and poverty became popular. The disillusionment of this era also gave birth to the angry young man on the big screen. Some of the examples include Dilip Kumar’s Ganga Jamuna, Manoj Kumar’s Roti Kapda Aur Makan, Amitabh Bachchan’s Deewar and Om Puri’s Ardh Satya and Aakrosh.
1990s- Early 2000s
Chest-thumping patriotism and jingoism became a staple in most of the patriotic films because of India’s strained ties with Pakistan. Who can forget Sunny Deol’s famous ‘hand pump’ scene from Gadar: Ek Prem Katha?
Director JP Dutta’s name became synonymous with war films like Border and LOC Kargil. Filmmakers also explored the theme of terrorism on the celluloid with films like Roja, Bombay, Dil Se, Fiza and Mission Kashmir.
The new millennium had Indians taking pride in themselves and returning back to their roots; a theme perfectly captured in Shah Rukh Khan’s Swades. Rakeysh Om Prakash Mehra’s 2016 film Rang De Basanti redefined the set idea of patriotism in a way which connected with Gen Y.
Shah Rukh Khan’s Chak De India won hearts with its perfect balance of patriotism and inspiration. Aamir Khan’s Lagaan proved that patriotism on the big screen isn’t restricted to wars and fights. Hrithik Roshan’s Lakshya revolved around an aimless, irresponsible man who matures into a battlefield hero.
Bollywood got its new-age Mr Bharat in the form of Akshay Kumar who took up films related to social issues like PadMan and Toilet: Ek Prem Katha.
Alia Bhatt’s espionage drama Raazi told the story of a young spy who risks her life for the love of her ‘Vatan’. On the other hand, Vicky Kaushal went all guns blazing and raised our patriotic josh high with Uri: The Surgical Strike.