Saturday, 15 December 2012

Alarming Decline in Periodical Patriotic Movies

In 2001, Gadar and Lagan were released on the same day, with the similar patriotic doses and still became super duper hits without eating each other’s pie out. Kargil war was just over and the patriotic sensation in the country was very high. The spirit continued for a couple of  years more with a string of Bhagat Singh movies released and some more genuine patriotic doses like LOC Kargil(2004), Swadesh(2004) and Mangal Pandey(2005).
It is very obvious now that periodical patriotic movies are at the ebb currently. Even though there had been some major attacks in India post-2005, like the Pune blast, The Mumbai attacks etc, the number of patriotic movies made were very thin and number of them running successfully, even thinner. Rather, NRI lifestyle, post-marital love stories or even sometimes justifying terrorism (New York) or befriending enemies (Main Hoon Na, Ek Tha Tiger) have become the order of the day. Genuine attempts of depicting sacrifices during the freedom struggle stumbled at the box office- Khele Hum Jee Jaan Se(2010) and Chittagong(2012)- both based upon the Great Chittagong Uprising of the 1930s against the British- failed to create any movement at the box office whatsoever. One may argue about the quality of them as movies, but, then, I fail to see anything more special in the older lot of J P Dutta and Anil Sharma movies which made bucks at the B.O on patriotism.

Are we missing something? Is patriotism an old subject for the current youth today? Is it very difficult to make an 18 year old Calvin Klein clad boy today understand the sacrifices of the martyrs in our pre-independence struggle?
First Problem: Why should we see Indians fighting against the British? Even my uncle stays in London..!!!
When at least one person from our family lives in the land of an English speaking country, how can we digest seeing our forefathers fighting against them with guns and rifles? Biarre…! When we fall in love with half-foreigner heroines like Katrina, Zarine Khan or Sunny Leone in Hindi movies, does it really make sense to raise our temper against their ancestors who ruled us for 200 years?
Second Problem: Stories must be cooked up, how can someone love this corrupt country so much?
The main problem with youth today is the “lack of connect” when they watch the story of Bhagat Singh or Netaji Subhas on the screen. When a teenager is brought up being fed with the corruption tales of the leaders and scams of billions, the inherent patriotism of a youngster generally takes a downturn. If you feed them with a Bhagat Singh picture now, they would find it “strange” to believe- what is there to love your country so much?
Third Problem: Where is the winning story?
Lagan was not a true story. Unfortunately, right from Sepoy Mutiny to Chittagong battle to Azad Hind Fauj- Indian patriotic fights do not enjoy winning denouements like, say, American Freedom Fighting. The fights were good and passionate, but, today- at an age where only winners matter- unfortunately our fight stories can only fill your eyes with tears but cannot show something winning like Mel Gibson’s “Patriot”.  Even our independence with a partition and after that several lost wars with China, don’t add too much of glory. Yes, we won 2 good wars against Pakistan in 1971 and 1999; but then how many films can you make on the same event?

Fourth Problem:  Who are they? Never heard of them in History books?
Problems lie with us also. In my school days at least, my history book never told me about any armed martyrs from India and their stories. What we got was the names of a handful of Congress leaders.  How can you motivate a youth to go and see a movie on Netaji or Azad or Udham Singh when he does not know any background of them at all? They would rather connect better with “Jab tak hai jaan”- at least it shows the story of London where his software engineer cousin stays.

Fifth Problem: Whom to show as a Foe, Pakistan or England? Both are our major markets!!

Ahh.. That's a major problem! Our movies do business in both these countries and making a periodical patriotic movie by default shows either of them as a foe damaging the chance of that movie to do good business in either of these countries. Kaun chance lega..???

My Appeal:
The scenario is not good. Movies with periodical patriotic stories are failing continuously- right from Mangal Pandey to Chittagong. It is definitely going to discourage the producers more to come up with such attempts in future. Our next generation might end up being ignorant of our ancestors, our roots, our values and the sacrifices of people – some information necessary to build a developed, self-independent nation.  Please watch such movies; at least do your part. They are better than those NRI love stories, which apart from giving you some visual refreshments; don’t give you any value in return.  What I love about the Americans is their pride on their history and systematic documentation(even though exaggerating sometimes). If they can, surely we can as well.


  1. Lack of connect and the level of corruption by the Desi Britishers (read politicians) has made patriotic films truly a thing of past. Very sad indeed

    1. Yes, a very severe disconnect Parag. There had been some over the top patriotic movies in the past, especially by our Manoj " Bharat" Kumar; but, of late some good patriotic movies did not get their dues.

  2. Rang de basanti, however, struck the right chord with the youth and old alike.The clever interpolation of current aspirations with the pre-independence ideals did the trick.Lesson learnt is that if we want to make our youth aware of the past, the vehicle has to be something which they have experienced:
    cricket was used in Lagaan:
    corruption in present day was used in Rang de basanti:
    Software or rock music may e other vehicles!

    1. Ashutosh Gwariker did try that out in "Swadesh", trying to portray patriotism via a NASA NRI scientist. Made at the helm of brain drain period in India, the movie was a failure. But yes, present day corelation is a must, for the sake of younger generation.