India's strength and beauty lie in the undying ideals of love, compassion, sacrifice, peace, and fraternity, embedded in its diverse culture which knit the whole country into one fabric. A country which otherwise looks scattered, having diverse views and living, becomes a large, united force against odd circumstances. The cinema is a great way to learn about these circumstances and the extraordinary people who withstood them, creating history. Hindi cinema has, since times immemorial, made films on the lives of martyrs, cross border love-stories and sports biopics. However, modern cinema has transitioned into more nuanced and subtle ways of evoking patriotism. I, being a fan of both the worlds, have curated a list of my top 5 picks to watch this Republic Day:
Directed by Shoojit Sircar cracked the biopic code with this one. The movie is based on the life of Udham Singh Kamboj, a freedom fighter from Punjab instigated to avenge the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre. He assassinated Michael O'Dwyer, who was at the helm of affairs when the troops opened fire, killing hundreds of bystanders. The film, plays out in monochromatic and rustic undertones, is the epitome of cinematic brilliance. The aftermath of the massacre portrayed gave me goosebumps, and the suffering was tough to watch. Vicky Kaushal puts his best foot forward in this deeply layered venture that shouldn't be missed.
While we glorify our country in most patriotic films, we forget that the horrors of caste-based discrimination, corruption, pseudo-secularism and red tape wreak havoc in the country, ostracising many communities and castes from basic rights and privileges. The movie is based on the heinous real-life incidents of the 2014 Badayun gang rape case and the 2016 Una incident. It shows the hard-hitting reality of the countryside that most privileged city dwellers are unaware of. A righteous patriot navigates his way around solving the deep-rooted caste prejudices, but this is just the beginning. Anubhav Sinha ticks all the boxes as a crime drama, and the ensemble cast, including Ayushmann Khurrana, Manoj Pahwa, Kumud Mishra, Sayani Gupta, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, delivers a power-packed performance.
I have lost count as to how many times I have watched this film. The plot revolves around an IPS officer, Ajay (Aamir Khan),'s quest to stop arms trafficking and cross border terrorism. Gulfam Hassan (Naseeruddin Shah), a ghazal singer and a mohajir (Muslim Indians who migrated to Pakistan after the Partition), will always be my favourite antagonist. The performances are immaculate, and so is the music album. The ghazal Hoshwalon Ko Khabar Kya needs to be preserved at all costs.
Starring Shah Rukh Khan as Mohan Bhargav, Swades is the first Indian film to be shot at NASA. Mohan, a successful Indian scientist who works for NASA, returns to India and understands the plight of women, farmers, and children in rural India. He realises that his scientific acumen can make great strides to empower, create and invent in the villages. The movie not only provides a sense of nationalism but also motivates youth to take their own steps to create an impact on their native soil. The soundtrack is unique and refreshing, with my favourite song being Yun Hi Chala Chal Raahi. The movie went on to become a cult classic, but clearly deserves more attention.
"Watan ke aage kuch nahi, khud bhi nahi", is a dialogue delivered by Sehmat (Alia Bhatt) in Raazi, that encapsulates the essence of this spy-thriller. Meghna Gulzar's Raazi is the story of a Delhi University student who is married into a highly ranked military household in Pakistan to work as an undercover agent. With Alia at her finest and Shankar Ehsaan Loy's stupendous music, it is a saga of tolerance, suffering, and sacrifice that deserves all your time.