15 Hindi Films to Watch On Republic Day

From Kabuliwala to Rang De Basanti, here's a list of films that continue to move, inspire and hit the right patriotic chords
15 Hindi Films to Watch On Republic Day

Patriotism, in today's environment, has different connotations for different people. But something that can never be denied is that the feeling of patriotism is deeply personal. It doesn't really need a chest thumping show of nationality or a cry of war to make a person feel for their country. More often than not, all it takes is a simple gesture of kindness and compassion to lend a new lease of life to one's faith in their homeland.

As India celebrates its 73rd Republic Day, we compile a list of important films that continue to move, inspire and hit the right chords through their distinct and diverse voices.

Rang De Basanti (2006)

Streaming On: Netflix

Perhaps one of the most important films to be made in the last two decades, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra's Rang De Basanti is not only a solid homage to India's pre-independence freedom fighters but also an ode to the heroes of today: the everyday citizen. The film remains relevant because it doesn't glorify a nation. Rather, it chooses to tear open its age-old systemic flaws and corrupt practices to inspire a generation to voice its dissent and become changemakers instead of bystanders.

Swades (2004)

Streaming On: Netflix

There's a line written by Javed Akhtar in Yeh Taara Wo Taara that says, 'Boond boond milne se banta ek dariya hai, boond boond sagar hai, varna ye sagar kya hai?' Swades embodies this philosophy of finding unity in diversity, without sounding preachy. It touches upon the atrocities born out of the caste system and gender inequality, and challenges it all by bringing a village together for a common cause: development.

Lagaan (2001)

Streaming On: Netflix

There's something so awe-inspiring in Lagaan's treatment of the underdogs rising tale that you can't help but feel an increasing sense of pride each time the team comes a step closer to defeating the Britishers at their own game in the colonial era. Call it the country's collective love for cricket or just the way the team, and the villagers, unite in times of crisis, but the climactic sequence has the ability to move even the most casual fan.

Chak De! India (2007)

Streaming On: Amazon Prime Video

To sum it up in a sentence, goosebumps are guaranteed every time Maula Mere Le Le Meri Jaan plays in this film. Shimit Amin's sports drama released at a time when much like the team in the actual film, not many had expectations from a team of young, relatively new actors alongside Shah Rukh Khan as coach. However, the relatable characterizations, the sub-plots, and the depiction of the regular struggles and blatant sexism the women underwent made the film connect differently – so much so that their win felt personal and empowering.

Sarfarosh (1999)

Here's what makes a film like Sarfarosh rare and enduring: it's a cop movie minus jingoism. The lead (Aamir Khan) is an IPS officer with a tragic past. However, not once does he throw in hyper-masculinity to his demeanor. He remains stern but in an understated, humane way. The film sensitively traces the roots of nationalism while touching upon the discrimination faced by the Muslim community in the country. It propagates unity and humanity without being preachy.

Sardar Udham (2021)

Streaming On: Amazon Prime Video

The Jallianwala Bagh massacre sequence, a slow-burn lasting over 40 minutes during the final hour of the film, serves as a bolt from the blue. It shocks, horrifies and ultimately gives enough space to a viewer to assimilate their thoughts hard enough to get a closer understanding of the mind of a person who had actually gone through the aftermath of the brutal massacre. In its haunting silence, Sardar Udham delves into the excruciating darkness of numbing tragedy that changed everything for not just a young man but a nation. So, when he does take revenge and calls himself a revolutionary, you believe it in your heart.

Haqeeqat (1964)

Streaming On: Zee5

Based on the 1962 Sino-India War, Chetan Anand's black-and-white war saga remains impactful for the way it spoke about the futility of war. The film, while heavy on drama, also depicted the human side of soldiers, touching upon the crushing trauma armymen faced after losing their teammates to war, and their yearning to go back home to their loved ones. The film also featured the spine-chilling Madan Mohan and Kaifi Azmi song, Kar Chale Hum Fida.

Dangal (2016)

Streaming On: Netflix

There's something about well-made sports films. They make you feel a gamut of feelings – patriotism, empowerment, pride. And when you see two trailblazing, dhaakad women emerge out of a largely sexist, patriarchal society and conquer the otherwise male-dominated space of Indian wrestling, you want to be in their cheerleading squad.

Raazi (2018)

Streaming On: Amazon Prime Video

What's extremely admirable about the Meghna Gulzar film is the way it sensitively portrays the Pakistani army. They're not portrayed as the enemies here, unlike many war movies in the past (and present). They aren't villainised – they're soldiers too, just doing their jobs. It's also beautiful how the children in a Pakistani school Sehmat (Alia Bhatt) teaches music in, sing a song that's as fitting for Pakistan as it is for India (Aye Vatan). The film goes on to subversively raise a question on not just war but the intensely heavy weight of sacrifice that it often demands.

Roja (1992)

Streaming On: Zee5

While the Mani Ratnam film may now feel dated, the anti-climactic sequence where a maroon sweater adorned Arvind Swami is the trapped, helpless and vulnerable Rishi – a common man, a cryptologist by profession – breaks windows and the shackles of his prisoners to save a burning Indian flag. His clothes catch fire in the process but he doesn't let go, as AR Rahman's stunning Bharat Humko Jaan Se Pyara Hai plays out in the background. The power of the song and the chorus is such that it makes you gawk, in surprise and in heart-fluttering awe.

Namastey London (2007)

Streaming On: Netflix/Amazon Prime Video

While the film is essentially a rom-com and gives a 2000s update to Manoj Kumar's Purab Aur Pashchim, there's one particular mic drop moment in the film where Akshay Kumar makes a solid comeback to a mean Britisher looking down upon his homeland. He starts and ends with a namaste, talking about India's diversity, culture and achievements, making way for a clap-worthy sequence.

Nayak (2001)

Streaming On: Disney+ Hotstar/Amazon Prime Video

There's something extremely powerful about the idea of a common man dethroning the powerful and corrupt. When Anil Kapoor as Shivaji Rao Gaekwad steps in as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra for 24 hours, rooting for him is natural. Each time he does something right, the screen rejoices – with a powerful background score by AR Rahman looming large as the 'Nayak' walks in slow motion with a hint of pride and confidence in his demeanor. As a result, the audience rejoices too, gushing over his informed choices. Who doesn't dream of a neta that actually understands the pulse of the people, after all?

Lakshya (2004)

Streaming On: Netflix

When you see a relatable character finding a direction for themselves on-screen, you invariably tend to feel empowered. Karan Shergill (Hrithik Roshan) is someone like that. His cluelessness about life and procrastinating ways turn him into somebody we've either known, or have been at some point of time. When he finds his calling in the army, you don't expect it. He tries to run away too, because a part of him doesn't trust himself either. And yet, once his evolution begins, you can't help but find comfort in it. What continues to make the film relevant is the fact that Karan's patriotism never begins or ends with heavy dialogue-baazi; it grows through his experiences, through the people he meets, the brotherhood he develops and the vulnerabilities that keep him going till the very end.

Kabuliwala (1961)

Streaming On: YouTube

Is it always necessary to feel a sense of desh bhakti only if a song is directly addressed to or associated with one's nation? In a poignant scene in the Balraj Sahni-starrer Kabuliwala, the protagonist sings the haunting Aye Mere Pyare Watan, written by Prem Dhawan. It's addressed to his own homeland, Afghanistan, and yet, the emotions of the song are so strong and transcendental that it's impossible to limit its boundaries. Not for a second does it feel territorial; it rather becomes metaphoric of a personal sentiment that absolutely anyone, irrespective of continents, religions or gender, could get stirred by.

83 (2021)

What made 83 special was its nostalgia-filled re-enactment of a time when India weren't the favourites on a cricket ground. It was based on a true story; people already knew the characters – some even grew up with them. But the authenticity of the events, the raw appeal of cricket of the 80s and the surrealism of Ranveer Singh's remarkable shapeshifting capabilities made for a hearty regathering – not only of a historic win, but also of the plethora of emotions it brought about.

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