Top 5 Patriotic Films That Touched Me Deeply

Realistic patriotic films, that highlight what is great about India, while inspiring us to contemplate about what is not, are so rare and special
Top 5 Patriotic Films That Touched Me Deeply

Any great work of art has the power to move a million or more hearts, if not mountains. With their immersive experience, great cinematic ventures inspire, motivate and deeply move our patriotic feelings. Such films are thought-provoking and real, and evoke in us genuine concern for our motherland. These films also show us the mirror, and tell us to look within, before branding others as the enemies of our country.

Hindi films usually tend to suffer from sentimental overkill and chest thumping jingoism. Bordering on frenzy, the nationalistic fervour portrayed in most films neatly classifies countries and people as good or bad, black or white, noble or ignoble. But reality, as we know, goes beyond these watertight classifications. No country can be sweepingly evil, just because it happens to be India's warring partner.

That is the reason realistic, honest patriotic films, that highlight what is great about India, while inspiring us to contemplate about for what is not, are so rare and special.

Five Hindi films that hold a special place in my heart would be Rang De Basanti, Raazi, Swades, Sardar Udham and A Wednesday. I have seen some of them more than twice, and every time they evoke the same spirit of patriotism and sense of duty.

Why Some Films are Special

Rang De Basanti, directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, is the ultimate call to our wounded sense of self, as Indians. Starting off typically as a treatise on growing up, it moves to more serious territory with the death of one of its main characters. Slowly, the mess we are in, as a country – from corruption in top circles, to police brutality, to political manipulation to dividing people on communal lines, all of these grave malaises are highlighted.

The film shows us why the young are indifferent to concepts like national pride and social activism. When they are singed by apathy themselves, the protagonists are jolted into action. Juxtaposing the present corruption of politicians with the brutalities of the British, Rang De Basanti does a splendid job in showing us the mirror, pointing out that nothing has changed in these seventy years post-independence. Change begins from within; if we as citizens don't stand up for what is right, we lose what is precious to us. And the film also showed us the pitfalls of chest-thumping nationalism practiced by many in our country.

A Wednesday, a thriller by Neeraj Pandey, trained the spotlight on terrorism and how it affects the man on the street. When things go beyond tolerance level, the beleaguered, neglected, nondescript common man is shown to be capable of retaliating and paying back in the same coin. Without resorting to any melodrama or sentimental tropes, the film is deeply touching and topical. What's remarkable about this film is that it shows us the doughty patriotism of the common man, and the dormant volcano of his outraged sense of national pride.

On a slightly more subdued tone is Swades, directed by Ashutosh Gowariker, who had given us the rousing Lagaan (an Oscar finalist) a year earlier. More than Lagaan – which was a brilliant film, though high on patriotic fervour and rabble rousing, this film touches us with its quiet sense of duty and deep patriotism. It shows the awakening of an US-based scientist, who responds to the call of his motherland and returns back to his roots. Swades shows us the power of sustained zeal to do something for the nation, with the aim of changing the lives of its citizens for the better.

The Soldier's Call to Duty

Meghna Gulzar's Raazi is the brilliantly sensitive portrayal of a young girl who has the call of national duty thrust on her. Married into enemy territory, she loyally spies for her country, betraying her husband and his family in the process. Raazi underlines that people are the same, across borders, and that patriotism can mean different things to different people. The emotional turmoil of the reluctant nationalist is depicted throughout, as she witnesses with horror, her own moral downfall and her life unraveling in front of her. All this without any jingoistic name-calling or melodrama.

Sardar Udham, released last year, is the rare patriotic film that is marked by underplayed emotions. Not a single scene in the film is loud or attention-seeking. It portrays the horrors of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre simply by observing the reaction of the survivors. It has Bhagat Singh talking about socialism and change in our mindset. Denouncing communalism, bigotry, fundamentalism is critical to our being free in the real sense – that is the statement this Shoojit Sircar film makes. It is such a modern approach towards patriotism, that Udham is never shown to sloganeer against his tormentors, or protest his arrest and subsequent hanging. Again, there is no attempt to paint all British officials in black or show the British empire in an unreasonably poor light.

The Impact of These Classics

You can judge a work of art by the impact it creates on the viewer/listener. I couldn't sleep at all the night I saw Rang De Basanti, so moved was I with the complex reality that the film spotlighted. The image of the destitute boy begging passengers to buy water in Swades still brings a lump in my throat. A Wednesday's denouement brings a triumphant smile to my face whenever I watch it. Raazi taught me to value the contribution of so many nameless people who work for my country from behind the scenes. Sardar Udham wanted me to clap and announce "Here is a film truly deserving of international acclaim!"

This Republic Day, I wish to acknowledge the power of good cinema to rouse positive love for the country and usher in change. Films that not only evoke patriotism but also a sense of duty in the viewer, a deep love for our motherland, a call to work for its betterment.

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