Patriotic 60's portray martyrs while 80's have films associated with terrorism


Few can contest Indian cinema’s, particularly Hindi cinema’s, unmatched contribution to strengthening the bonds of national integration, countering divisive feelings, educating the people about our shared national history. As an art form that strikes the chords of both emotion and intellect, the power of cinema is unmatched. Naturally, Indian cinema has contributed immensely to the cultivation of this uniting and uplifting feeling of nationalism. Patriotic films, as a special and much-admired genre of Indian cinema, have had a tremendous impact on our people, cutting across religious, regional, linguistic and economic identities. Moreover, they have also proved their unsurpassed power of communicating both to the educated and illiterate masses. Ananya Bharati categorises Indian patriotic films primarily into three categories. The first category comprises of films associated with terrorism. The second features films about martyrs of the freedom struggle and events linked to the Partition of the country and the third category has war films that depict the India-Pakistan conflict.
Patriotic Films: The Beginning

The Hindi film industry’s adoption of patriotic themes happened at its very inception, when India was engaged in a unique struggle for freedom from the British colonial rule. The first film which boldly ventured in this direction was Sohrab Modi’s Sikandar.

When freedom dawned on August 15, 1947, ending 200 years of alien rule, the Indian film industry was there to celebrate this historic transition. The air those days was filled with the hopes and dreams of building a new India, most inspiringly articulated by our first Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Bollywood captured this mood in films like Naya Daur (1957) and Hum Hindustani (1960). Anandmath (1952), Jagriti (1954) and Leader (1964) focused on the freedom struggle and the sacrifices made by its martyrs. Some others like Sikander-e-Azam (1965) and Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai (1960), through their songs, talked about the greatness of India. Then there were films that were inspired by the violation of the country’s barriers by the enemies. Three notable films made on the subject were Haqeeqat (1964), Prem Pujari (1970) and Lalkaar (1972). Of these, Haqeeqat, which is about the Chinese aggression in 1962, has left a lasting impact.

After Independence, the target of attack changed. The British rulers were replaced by social culprits, smugglers and corruption-mongers. Nationalism still ruled. Instead of the freedom struggle, India's wars in the following decade dictated patriotic cinema. For example, Chetan Anand's Haqueeqat made in 1964 dealt with the Indo-China war. Hindustan Ki Kasam, released in 1973 was another war film. K A Abbas's Saat Hindustani spoke of national integration through seven people from different communities who joined hands to fight for the liberation of the Portuguese colony of Goa. Other films like Hum Hindustani (1960) and Naya Daur (1957), predicted the changed atmosphere in free India and the importance of unity. V Shantaram's Do Aankhe Barah Haath (1957) was on the necessity of rehabilitating criminals, a problem a newly-free country would have to deal with. Reformation of law and order in the country was the need of the hour. Films like Kala Bazaar and Kanoon spoke about the pathetic law and order due to black-marketing and recurrent robberies. Madhubala`s Barsaat Ki Raat was a super-hit in 1960. Rural India was left behind as India was looked upon as an emerging nation.

Films in the 50's and 60's were more subtle in their approach. Though their scripts were filled with patriotic fervour, their screenplays were not cluttered with violence and hatred. Instead, the films highlighted the protagonists as martyrs who would even die for their country. It was not focussed at bashing other countries or the bad people, but the focus was on the underdog gradually rising through hardships and lifting the name of the country. Music is these films were melodious and had inspiring and meaningful lyrics. Some of the popular actors of 60's Hindi films include Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor, Manoj Kumar, Sunil Dutt etc.

80's Patriotism
The decade of ’80s saw India faced with a peculiar form of war—a proxy war from across the border in the form of terrorism. First, it cast its evil eye on Punjab, bleeding it for nearly a decade before being snuffed out. Then it targeted Jammu & Kashmir. The perpetrators of this proxy war were also behind extremism and terrorism in India’s northeast. Films that dealt with the issue not only portrayed the barbaric face of terrorism, but also exposed the misleading propaganda that sought to justify it through direct and indirect support for it.

The `80s had Padmalaya Film's Meri Aawaz Suno (1981) and Manoj Kumar's Kranti (1981). In Kranti, the film takes place in 19th Century British India and is the story of the fight for independence from the British in the years spanning from 1825 to 1875. It tells the story of two men who led the war against British Rule, Sanga (Dilip Kumar) and Bharat (Manoj Kumar) both of whom call themselves Kranti.
Later that decade Tamas (1987 ) by Govind Nihalani and Watan Ke Rakhwale (1987) were released. But the decade belonged to Richard Attenborough's Gandhi. Anil Kapoor`s Mr India (1987) was a magnum opus as fiction united with patriotism and equality of society was well depicted in the movie. Pukar is a 1983 Bollywood film, directed by Ramesh Behl, starring Amitabh Bachchan, Randhir Kapoor, and Zeenat Aman. It is a movie about freedom fighters trying to liberate Goa from the Portuguese.

The 80's got a bit bolder and filmmakers depicted their protagonists lifting their voices against injustice within the country. Topics like Kashmir valley issue, Pakistan and various other inter conflicts like feudal system depicted in Rajasthan in J.P Dutta's Ghulami was seen. Music too was depicted in a more bold and forceful manner. Some of the popular actors of the time were Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra, Rajesh Khanna.