Bharat Mata Ka Cinema – Celebrating the Spirit of Independence
Time after time Bollywood has come up with great films that celebrate the spirit of independence. Depicting the hostile environment leading to the country’s freedom, some were true stories, others were made up and from a handful of such classics, there are 3 brilliant films we will revisit as this is that time of the year when this article couldn’t be more relevant.
Our first chosen entry is Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi. The story about one man, probably the most famous Indian personality in the world, who defeated the British Empire and freed a nation of 350 million people.
Released in 1982, the film grabbed 8 academy awards including Best Actor, Best Picture and Best Director. Ben Kingsley gives a tour de force performance as Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, an attorney who later became an Indian political leader with non-violent beliefs. The character of Gandhi showed that distinct charisma that even his enemies were impressed by his willingness to suffer, even die at the hands of those in power, rather than back down.
There are sweeping panoramas of India’s incredible landscapes, evocative shots of India’s legendary Railways and well-orchestrated “crowd scenes” that many a film could never achieve with such grandeur. Moreover, the music of Ravi Shankar adds more emotional value to the story. Gandhi is a film no Indian should miss.
2. Lagaan – Once Upon a Time in India
Moving on from one masterpiece to the other, Ashutosh Gowarikar’s Lagaan. A fictional tale set in the Victorian period of India’s colonial British Raj revolved around the peasants from a village who are oppressed by high taxes imposed by their rulers. A challenge is made to a game of cricket that is to be played by veteran British cricket players, versus villagers who have never played this game before, and do not even know a bat from a piece of wood.
Being immensely motivating and inspiring, the story shows these villagers going against all odds to achieve their much-deserved independence in 1893. One of the most thrilling parts of the film is its third act where the cricket match gets more challenging for our players. It begins to feel like they are going to lose and British might win but since like all great underdog films, this one also has a happy ending. (Oops! Spoiler Alert)
Lagaan proved to be a path breaking film that went on to get a nomination of Best Foreign Language Film in Academy Awards (2002). Anil Mehta’s Beautiful Cinematography, Soulful melodies of A. R. Rahman and a stellar cast of great talent make this one a must watch. Not a single minute of the almost 4 hours duration was wasted. Lagaan – Once upon a time showcases the human spirit through its simplicity and aims at reaching the stars!
3. Legend of Bhagat Singh
Possibly this next title is the most underrated film based on pre-independence era. Unfortunately, its release on June 2002 conflicted with another film that portrayed the same historic personality. Although, both tanked at the box office, but one of them truly deserves a lot more recognition and much respect. That film is Rajkumar Santoshi’s Legend of Bhagat Singh.
Winner of two national awards including best feature film in hindi, Legend of Bhagat Singh showed the story of a young revolutionary who raised an armed resistance against the British rule in India.
This film too had Gandhi but this time he was shown as a person who’s principles didn’t allow him to support Bhagat Singh’s violent ways against with the British. The conflict between Gandhi’s non-violence and Bhagat Singh’s Tit for Tat philosophy is one of the most touching points of the movie. It eventually leads to execution of Bhagat Singh which leaves the audience shaken with its last frame.
Ajay Devgan who played the iconic character won the national award for his incredible performance. Another excellent thing about the movie is the music by Academy Award Winner composer A.R. Rahman. The Legend of Bhagat Singh is one of the fewer biopics in Indian cinema that attempts to stay as true to the facts as possible. Some might find it difficult to watch the violent content but it is a movie that is worth watching.
Films discussed above and many others may have exaggerated actual events to turn them into more dramatically affective scenes but what matters is the patriotic feeling that these films succeed to evoke in our hearts.
So on this 69th independence day, let’s cherish those crucial moments of history, the real and the not so real unsung heroes and above all the inspiring struggle that went to make our country free from slavery.
Once again, Happy Independence Day.