The freedom struggle and national pride have always inspired filmmakers to recreate the stories of bravery, grit and sacrifice. Be it Shaheed (1965), Mangal Pandey: The Rising (2005), Border (1997) or Chak De! India (2007), soaring nationalistic pride has often cemented these films in the audience’s memory for posterity. Here are some of the most hair-raising moments from Hindi cinema that celebrated the spirit of our country:
Based on the Sino-Indian War of 1962, the film directed by Chetan Anand starred Balraj Sahni and Dharmendra as Captains in the Indian Army. As the war draws to an end with defeat inevitable, the retreating soldiers are killed by the Chinese army. With a haunting rendition of Kar Chale Hum Fida Jaan-o-Tan Sathiyon by Mohd Rafi, the real footage of then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s speech and the Republic Day celebrations are interspersed with tragic images of the war casualities on the battlefield.
It’s a tale that has been told a number of times in cinema but Shaheed starring Manoj Kumar as Bhagat Singh was one of the first films on the revolutionary. Bhagat Singh walks towards the waiting noose with Rajguru (played by Prem Chopra) and Sukhdev (Anant Marathe), singing Mera Rang De Basanti Chola. If this doesn’t make you want to salute the spirit of our freedom struggle, little else will.
Directed by Ashutosh Gowarikar, Lagaan told the story of the drought-stricken villagers of Champaner trying to fight the oppressive tax regime of the Britishers through a game of cricket. If they won, the village wouldn’t have to pay taxes (the grains from their harvest) for three years. The entire 3 hours and 45 minutes of Lagaan is pinned on its final moments when Bhuvan (Aamir Khan) scores the last six runs for his team. We know that our heroes never fail, and yet we were at the edge of our seats praying for a happy ending for the villagers of Champaner.
Rang De Basanti (2006)
The most inspiring and heart-wrenching moment of Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s Rang De Basanti comes when Flt. Lt. Ajay Rathod (R Madhavan) is killed after his fighter jet crashes mid-air. The government decides to blame the incident on Rathod to cover-up for its own goof-up. In protest, his friends organise a candle light march at India Gate. AR Rahman‘s background score of Khoon Chala in the scene gives you gooseflesh even 9 years after the film’s release. This also proves to be a turning point in the film where a bunch of Delhi slackers turn into revolutionaries of sorts.
Dangal is based on the inspiring story of world wrestling champion Geeta Phogat, who won the Gold medal in the 2010 Commonwealth Games. So even before entering the theatre, we knew how the final match of the film is going to end. But director Nitesh Tiwari took the cinematic liberty of creating a twist where Mahavir Phogat (Aamir Khan) misses his daughter’s match because he’s been locked in a room. He only learns of her victory when he hears the National Anthem being played.