68 years of Independence:Five films on India's national heros

Ananth Mahadevan’s biopic on the life of freedom fighter Gour Hari Das released on the eve of Independence Day. The film titled ‘Gour Hari Dastaan – The Freedom File’ with Vinay Pathak in the lead, portrays Gour Hari’s struggle in an Independent India to gain recognition as a freedom fighter. The Gandhian is supposed to have written letters and pleaded innumerous times to prove his identy.

On the occasion of 68 years of India Independence, here are five movies made on our Freedom Fighters whose national and regional campaigns; efforts and sacrifices culminated in the day we celebrate:

1. Mangal Pandey

Mangal Pandey was an Indian soldier in British East India Company who fuelled ‘India’s first war of Independence’. The reason behind the uprising was the introduction of ‘Enfield rifles’. The cartridges used for the weapon were perceived to be smeared with animal fat, especially pigs and cows, the consumption of which was against Islam and Hinduism respectively.


A biographaical film based on the life of the revolutionary released in 2005 titled ‘Mangal Pandey: The Rising’. Actor Aamir Khan played the eponymous role of Mangal Pandey, while Rani Mukherji, Amisha Patel and Kirron Kher were also cast among several others. The film was directed by Ketan Mehta and produced by Bobby Bedi.

2. Bhagat Singh

Bhagat Singh was among the most influential revolutionaries of the Indian Independence Movement. He became involved with the freedom struggle since a very young age and had also fled home to avoid marriage saying he has dedicated his life to the noble cause of the country’s freedom. Singh became a martyr at the age of 23 for killing British police officer John Saunders who was responsible for the death of his idol Lala Lajpat Rai.


As many as eight films have been made on the life of the legendary national hero – ‘Shaheed’ (1948) with Dilip Kumar as Bhagat Singh; ‘Shaheed-e-Azaad Bhagat Singh’ (1954) starring Prem Adeeb; ‘Shaheed’ (1965) with Manoj Kumar in the lead; ‘Shaheed Bhagat Singh’ (1963) which cast Shammi Kapoor in Singh’s role.

The year 2002 itself saw three releases based on the life of the revolutionary – ‘Shaheed-E-Azam’ with Sonu Sood in the lead; ‘The Legend of Bhagat Singh’ with Ajay Devgn as Bhagat Singh, ‘Shaheed Bhagat Singh’ (2002) with its director Tarun Khanna playing the lead, and ‘23rd March 1931: Shaheed (2002)’ with Bobby Deol as the lead actor.

3. Surjya Sen

A school teacher by profession, Surjya Sen, popularly called Master-da was the man behind the Chittagong Uprising in 1930. He formed a revolutionary group including Ganesh Ghosh, Lokenath Bal, Ambika Chackraborty, Subodh Roy and several others. They made plans to raid the two main armouries in Bengal’s Chittagong (now in Bangladesh) of British India. They also damaged telegraph and telephone office and disrupting movement of trains. About sixty-five revolutionaries were involved in the movement. Many including Subodh Roy got arrested and were brutally beaten. Subodh was sentenced to life in ‘Kaala Paani’ with many others.

In February, 1933, Surjya Sen was arrested after an insider, partly lured by the reward money and partly due to jealousy, revealed his address to the British. He attained martyrdom on January 12, 1934 when the British hanged him.


Scientist-turned-filmmaker Bedabrata Pain made a film on the uprising in 2012 titled ‘Chittagong’. Manoj Bajpai played the role of Surjya Sen. The movie won the National Film Award for the Best First Film of a Director.

Ashutosh Gowariker also made period film on the Chittagong Uprising in 2010 titled ‘Khelen Hum Jee Jaan Se with Abhishek Bachchan in the role of Master-da Surjya Sen.

4. Subhash Chandra Bose

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose is one of prominent figures of Indian freedom struggle. He was known for his patriotic zeal and charisma. He created the slogan ‘Jai Hind’ and his saying ‘Give me blood, I’ll give you freedom’ is still remembered. He founded the ‘Azad Hind Fauj’ or the Indian National Army. He revamped the INA with Japanese help by enlist Indian-British Army prisoners of war captured during the Battle of Singapore by the Japanese. He was a member of the Indian National Congress, the main instrument of Indian nationalism and was twice elected its president.


Critically acclaimed filmmaker Shyam Benegal made a biopic on the life of the iconic figure in 2004. The film ‘Bose: The Forgotten Hero’ depicted Netaji’s life after quiting INC and travelling to Germany to seek Hitler’s support and his formation of the INA. Sachin Khedekar played the role of Subhash Chandra Bose.

5. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel

Known as the ‘Iron Man of India’ Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was a social leader who played a major role in the country’s freedom struggle. He was a barrister and encouraged people to come forward and support ‘Swaraj’ and ‘Satyagrah’ started by Mahatma Gandhi. He was more of a social reformer and often clashed with British officials on civic issues. He had seen the nation through a grave crisis during partition when the British finally agreed to leave India.


Director Ketan Mehta made a film on the ‘Iron Man’ in 1993 titled ‘Sardar’. Actor Paresh Rawal played the eponymous character. The film depicted how Sardar Patel made efforts for a united India convincing the rulers of princely states to join the union of india.