Unveiling perspectives through patriotic films in Bollywood

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Sakshi Sharma
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Patriotic films

Patriotic films

We try to explore how some patriotic films, whether focused on a nation's defense system or otherwise, tend to give out a diverse outlook on patriotism!

In the light of recent events and the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, it's understandable if this Republic Day feels a little overwhelming for some of us. With patriotic content taking centre stage this January, what with Fighter having just released and Indian Police Force's OTT release last week,  maybe it's time we ask ourselves what patriotism means to us and which aspect of it we're seeking from the content we consume. Is it just about loyalty towards India? Or are we looking for something more? 

We have a great time while watching defense-based films like Border, URI, 1971, LOC: Kargil, Ab Tumhare Hawale Watan Saathiyo, Lakshya, Shershaah, or Sam Bahadur, as they provide us with that 'high josh' feeling. But apart from that, these films are also a good way to pay an ode to real-life heroes who sacrificed themselves to protect us all. They offer us a deeper insight into our defense systems, how they prepare for war, the lives of these brave soldiers, and what war can look like. Unfortunately, they sometimes fall prey to too much sentiment of the nationalist chest-thumping war cry. Nevertheless, these are not only films on patriotism! 

Also Read: Main Atal Hoon review: A convincing but polarised drama obsessed with hero-worshipping

There are films that talk about how a country shapes a person while shaping itself. Films like Mangal Pandey, Legend of Bhagat Singh, Gandhi, Kesari, Sardar Udham, Raazi, Neerja, and more follow and celebrate the journey of a 'person' whose loyalty towards the country mattered when the time came instead of focusing on who they are fighting against. Similarly, sports films like Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Dangal, Mary Kom, Chak De India, Lagaan, and more offer us a chance to look at our achievements and be proud of them while narrating the story of a 'person' who fought against all odds to set a new precedence.

But apart from these defense, sports-based, and historical biopics, there are also those that look within our own country. Swades was about what it truly means to be 'Swadeshi'. Rang De Basanti was about criticizing the government and fighting the ideology of the Britishers, not just them. A Wednesday was about a frustrated common man fighting terrorism. Newton is also a film about a common government servant who fights for free and fair elections. Mission Kashmir and Haider was about the complicated conflicts surrounding Kashmir. Article 15 was about the caste system and its hold on our society, Afwaah was about the spread of misinformation and its impact, Bheed was about the testing time of the pandemic, and Bajrangi Bhaijaan is about the stereotypes attached to 'Hindus and Muslims - India and Pakistan'

There are many more Bollywood films that give us a chance to look at patriotism in a different light, where we learn to celebrate our strength in fighting foreign enemies but are also not afraid to look at the wrong within our own system - Jawan is a good recent example of the same. So, this time, let's learn to read between the lines and look at patriotism in films beyond just armies fighting wars on the border. 

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