Patriotism and Bollywood have gotten along well over the past over the past 63 years. From the poster-boy of the Independence era, the flag touting Mr. Bharat, Manoj Kumar, and Nargis Dutt as the unforgettable symbol of new India in Mother India, to the bordering jingoism with Sunny Deol and the beer toting boys in Rang De Basanti. Each one of them had their distinct flavour of India, either sprinkled subtly or boldly in your face. On 26th January, India’s 61st Republic Day, brings you some of the most iconic patriotic films in India:


Mother India (1957)
‘Mother India’ was the coming-of-age of a nation, and what made the movie even more special was that director Mehboob decided to use a woman, Nargis as a symbol of New India, breaking from the shackles of moneylenders, destitution and dripping with sacrifice. ‘Mother India’ addressed a nation grappling between industrialization and tradition, opening up to the world and preserving its culture; Nargis, Sunil Dutt, Rajendra Kumar and Raj Kumar made history.

Haqeeqat (1964)
Chetan Anand’s ‘Haqeeqat’ was based on the 1962 Sino-China war with Dharmendra as the sacrificing Indian soldier. The film showed how Nehru’s ‘Hindi-Chinibhaibhai’ failed to hold back China and how the resulting war devastated Indian morale. And for all you fans of the ‘Sparta!’ 300, here’s a movie about a dozen Indian soldiers trying to hold of the Chinese army!

Shaheed (1965)
No Bollywood patriot movie list can be complete without Manoj Kumar; the quintessential Mr. Bharat. Before Bobby Deol, Ajay Devgan or Siddharth donned the twirling moustache, it was Manoj Kumar who played Bhagat Singh, India’s favourite patriot. Jawaharlal Nehru even made an appearance in ‘Shaheed’ as himself!

Border (1997)
J. P. Dutta’s epic tale of Indian soldiers during the Indo-Pak and Bangladesh Liberation War had a long list of A-list stars like Sunny Deol, Jackie Shroff, Sunil Shetty, Akshay Khanna, Pooja Bhatt and Tabu. The songs of Border added to the splendor of the film and made everyone feel for the Indian soldier.

Gadar (2001)
What Manoj Kumar was to patriots in the 60’s, Sunny Deol was to jingoists in the 90’s. Unlike other movies about soldiers or martyred freedom fighters, ‘Gadar’ was about an Indian falling in love with a Muslim in the bloody time of the India’s partition. Peppered with Sunny’s characteristic roars and dialogues, Anil Sharma’s ‘Gadar’ was a benchmark in itself.

Lagaan (2001)
Patriotism and cricket: Ashutosh Gowarikar’s combination hit the Indian psyche bang-on! Aamir Khan and his cricket team hit a six all the way to the Oscars as a barren little Indian village that has to win a game of cricket against the British to get their taxes cancelled.

Swades (2004)
Unlike other period movies, Ashutosh Gowarikar’s ‘Swades’ was about an Indian settled in the US who returns to Indian and discovers that his country needs him. Lover-boy Shah Rukh Khan shed his usual chocolate looks to play the NASA scientist who returns to India to search for his nanny and ends up finding himself.

Rang De Basanti (2006)
‘Rang De Basanti’ was one movie that talked to the youth about their angst, confusion, coming-of-age, patriotism and friendship without once making it look patronizing. The story of a bunch of youngsters who come together to help a British filmmaker, the film had power-packed performances by Aamir Khan, Sharman Joshi, Siddharth, Atul Kulkarni, Soha Ali Khan and Madhavan. Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra had given us the modern freedom struggle.

Chak De! India (2007)
Shah Rukh Khan has a penchant for making good films when he sheds that superstar aura of his and ‘Chak De! India’ is no exception. Shah Rukh Khan played the brooding, gruff coach of the Indian Women’s Hockey team.  Shimit Amin had taken a huge risk by taking away the ‘King’ from this Khan, giving him a stubble and a grim look throughout teamed with a bunch of formerly unknown girls in a game of hockey.

Black and White (2008)
Suhash Ghai proved his directorial prowess with this with Anil Kapoor as a kind Urdu professor in Delhi, complete with grey steaks in his hair and a doting daughter. How Anil Kapoor deals with Anurag Sinha, a suicide bomber, forms the crux of the story. It’s in the tiny details, of Anil’s wife, Shefali Chhaya’s changing attitude towards Anurag, an old poet’s staccato verses that Subhash Ghai wins us over.




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