Bollywood’s changing Patriotic Quotient
Bollywood has been an old companion of Indian patriotism. It began with pro-British films like Gyan Mukherjee’s Kismet (1943) and are now delivering films like Rang De Basanti (2006). The transformation of patriotic films has been quite incredible in both form and content.
Manoj Kumar is the man whose face flashes in front of our eyes whenever we think of Patriotic Films. His films, Upkar, Purab Aur Paschim, Hindustan Ki Kasam and Kranti had been the yardsticks of patriotism in Bollywood during the era of 1960-1980.
In one of his interviews, Manoj Kumar has been quoted saying, “My countrymen are so gracious, they liked my work, my character in Upkaar and I was made Bharat Kumar from Manoj.”
The melodramatic representation had won several Indian hearts. For several years patriotism had been Bollywood’s hit formula to conquer the box office. But 1990 onwards, the spirit of the patriotism in Bollywood received a change.
With Mehul Kumar’s Tiranga (1992) and J.P.Dutta’s Border (1997), Indian audience received their share of some brave patriotic concoction. The undaunted police officers played by Rajkumar and Nana Patekar in Tiranga and the admirable Jawaans in Border, had redefined the patriotism in a brand new avatar.
J.P. Dutta has been consistent in delivering films like LoC and Kargil. When asked about Border J.P.Dutta says, “It’s a tribute to boys like my brother, who have fought this battle”. So, patriotism no longer meant 15th August for Bollywood. It had moved beyond that.
The millennium had more surprises for the film goers of India. Love for the country no longer meant a teary eye after a patriotic overdose.
Ashutosh Gwarikaer’s Swades (2004) breathed a new lease of life in the catalogue of patriotic films. Mohan Bhargav, played by Shah Rukh Khan, became the spokesperson for the youth today. The clichéd concept of “mera bharat mahan” was questioned by the character Mohan Bhargav. Swades was a warning bell that told a harsh truth- it is time to wake up from patriotic illusions!
Swades was the ripple in the water; the wave was about to follow. Rang De Basanti (2006) was the wave that surpassed every concept of patriotism, and became a cult! It made the Gen Y cry for their country. It shook the base of our indifference. It hammered in our years- “koi bhi desh perfect nahi hota use perfect banana padta hai”.
It showed with blood and reason that the youth should shoulder the responsibility to kill corruption. Director Rakeysh Mehra says Rang De Basanti had to happen because, “this was the era when escapism had seeped into cinema or real life”. Thus patriotism had been implemented to break the shackles of bias and escapism.
“Indian Patriotic films have truly come a long way. It has now become a part of the psyche. The films challenge us, question us and make us rethink whether we have really done our bit?” says Sayantanee Dutta a young techie.
Bollywood has truly metamorphosed into a brave new world with its ever changing concepts of patriotism.