We still remember that time when we used to wait in anticipation for August 15th as all the TV channels would telecast patriotic films and remind us how much we owed all those who fought for the freedom of the nation. Where films like Shaheed documented the lives of revolutionaries and showed us how much they sacrificed for the freedom of the nation from colonial rule, there was another strata of films like Sarfarosh and Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani, which told us that time and again, a nation faces a crisis, and somebody takes the mantle to clean the mess and make it stand on its feet once again. There was a time when we wanted freedom from the British, and today, we need it from our own vices.
We might be an independent nation, but we are a long way from building the kind of nation that the likes of Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad, Ashfaqulla Khan, and Ram Prasad Bismill wanted. Today that we are talking about this topic, we take this liberty to reflect on a beautiful dialogue spoken by the character of Bhagat Singh in Rajkumar Santoshi’s The Legend of Bhagat Singh, where he says that communal discord will break the spine of this nation, and if we don’t take hold of the situation, then the coming generation will have the hardest time trying to stop the wildfire. Today, when we see that prophecy taking concrete shape and form, we should remember that a society that is at war with itself can never prosper. So let this Independence Day be about communal harmony; let it be about hope and a future where we celebrate our diversity. Here’s a list of films that we think everybody should watch, as they are not only oozing with patriotism but also leave us with a lot to think about.
1. Sardar Udham
One of the most recent films of the genre, Sardar Udham, is no less than a masterpiece. Directed by Shoojit Sircar, this film will make you feel the angst of a boy who was standing in a puddle of blood in the Jalianwallah Bagh in the year 1919 amidst the pile of dead bodies. Watch this film for that long and excruciating sequence where Vicky Kaushal, playing the character of Sardar Udham, rummages through the dead bodies in the hope of saving somebody who might still be breathing. We believe that it is one of Vicky Kaushal’s best performances to date, and though the film was not a huge commercial success, we believe that for its sheer craftsmanship, it deserves a watch.
2. The Legend of Bhagat Singh
In my personal opinion, The Legend of Bhagat Singh had one of the best screenplays and dialogues ever written in Hindi cinema. Piyush Mishra’s simple yet impactful dialogues make you realize what the great revolutionary stood for, what his principles were, why he was against the ways and means employed by congress, and what freedom meant for him. The film tells us how these youngsters could foresee the future and raise issues that plague our society now. How right they were when they said that if we do not fight for the right ideals and focus only on the end goal, there will come a time when white masters will be replaced by brown ones, and the situation of the common man will remain pretty much the same.
3. Rang De Basanti
From the music of AR Rahman to the scintillating direction of Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, where the past coincides with the present, Rang De Basanti has a lot to offer, apart from what is expected from films of this genre. We see friends who come from different backgrounds, cultures, and upbringings and are inseparable and ready to do anything for each other. The film talks about institutionalized corruption and how it ends up impacting the lives of people in the society. Our favorite character from the film is Laxman Pandey, who is a worker in a right-wing political party and has a change of heart when he gets exposed to the hypocrisy of his own people, whom he considers to be his role models.
From Border to LOC Kargil, there have been many films about the Indian army, but for us, Lakshya, directed by Farhan Akhtar, takes the cake. It is the story of a rich and aimless brat who finds the purpose of his life and goes after it with such determination that his entire demeanor undergoes a complete change. Though the protagonist, Karan Shergill, played by Hrithik Roshan, is a fictional character, the film does take inspiration from many real-life events and people.
5. Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani
This film talked about the fall of the fourth pillar of democracy, even before the anchors turned news channel debates into soap operas and became the spokespersons of the ruling party. This film was way ahead of its time, and it probably predicted that a time would come when society would be divided, hate would be spread, people would be converted to commodities, the truth would be suppressed, and narratives would be molded. Today, we don’t need one Ajay Bakshi (Shahrukh Khan’s character), but we would need an army of such people to stop the power-wielders from taking the country into an abyss.
Directed by John Mathew Matthan, Sarfarosh has stood the test of time, and the issues raised in that film are even more relevant today. It is the journey of IPS officer Ajay Singh Rathore and his quest to wipe out all the terrorist groups operating within the country. Great acting coupled with impactful conflicts make Sarfarosh a riveting watch that sheds light on many important issues that need to be talked about. Naseeruddin Shah’s portrayal of Gulfam Hassan still stays fresh in our minds, and the ferocity that Aamir Khan brought to the screen elevates the narrative even more.
7. Delhi 6
It is one of those films that helps you understand this country and its people in a much better manner. It tells us how affectionate we are and yet how fickle our sensibilities can be at times. Delhi 6 tells us how religion could be used to create division and how having faith in humanity can put us back on track and stop us from digging our own graves. The characters in this film are so well written that you cannot help but marvel at the actors who play them and spread their magic on screen. The sensitive yet perceptive Roshan Mehra; the poetic Ali Beg romancing with life; the half-witted Gobar, who proved to be the most intelligent of them all; and everybody else living in those narrow lanes of Delhi 6 bring a sort of liveliness on screen that is a treat to watch.
Lagaan was one of those films that changed how mainstream cinema was made in the country. Nobody had heard about an entire crew going to a remote village and staying there for the duration of the shoot. Apart from the location, Lagaan was the first film that used sync sound and also made use of the Awadhi language. Ashutosh Govarikar was told time and again that he was taking a huge risk and that the audience would never accept the film, but not only was Lagaan a commercial success, but it was also a top contender in the best foreign film category at the Oscars. With some greatsongs, drama, emotions, and a thrilling cricket match between Indian villagers and British officers, Lagaan is a must-watch if you haven’t already.