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9 patriotic movies you can chill with this Independence Day, stir the dormant patriotism in us, and think about being better human beings for our country.
What is Independence Day without its share of watching a patriotic movie with friends and family? But most of these highlight male characters – here are, however, a list of movies which have strong female characters, are extraordinary in their own right and will also help spike up your patriotism.
More than 10 years after its release, Chak De! India still remains one of the best sports movies that Bollywood produced. She-power to patriotism, it is unapologetic in the portrayal of the many women hockey players. They are angry, they are aggressive, and they are not going to let anything come in their way to a victory propelled by Kabir Khan (ShahRukh Khan), their coach.
The movie explored the gender inequality in sports in India with Kabir Khan’s “Rakshashon ki sena” fighting against not just their opponent teams, but also the disinterest of the country’s own people and authorities towards a female team in sport. Bringing forward other issues of caste, class, ethnicity, religion, domestic issues, etc. through the individual stories of the lead characters, this movie had everything it took to be a blockbuster. One of my favourite patriotic movies.
Loosely based on the Phogat family, Dangal tells the story of Mahavir Singh Phogat, an amateur wrestler, who trains his daughters Geeta Phogat and Babita Kumari to become India’s first world-class female wrestlers.
The film is a classic that explores the struggle of two girls and their father from a small town in Haryana, who dream of winning gold at the Olympics in a game that is hardly cared for and is considered purely masculine. The movie not only shows the patriotic zeal of the characters, but also importantly questions the societal roles of women in India, and the challenging task of breaking free from it. Fatima Sana Shaikh and Sanya Malhotra ace their roles as the adult version of the courageous, resilient, and determined Phogat sisters, while Zaira Wasim makes us fall in love with the adorable and brave young Geeta.
Set against the backdrop of the Indo-Pak war of 1971, an Indian girl Sehmat (played by Alia Bhat) marries a Pakistani Army officer to spy on their country. A naïve and inexperienced Kashmiri girl, Sehmat’s life changes when her father seals her fate as an Indian spy.
Raazi rewrites the whole spy thriller genre that is mostly characterized by violence and full blown action sequences. Other than the tight and genuine storyline it is Alia Bhatt who keeps us invested in the movie as her character undergoes a major transformation from a gullible girl to a courageous woman. And unlike the femme fatal characters of women in this genre, Sehmat remains fragile and vulnerable being thrown into unpredictable situations where her patriotism and her love are questioned. It is also incredibly delightful to see Soni Razdan playing mother to her real life daughter on screen.
One of the most celebrated movies of our generation that talked about nationalism and the ability to raise one’s voice against injustice, Rang De Basanti is a story about a British documentary filmmaker who is determined to make a film on Indian freedom fighters based on diary entries by her grandfather, a former officer of the Indian Imperial Police. Upon arriving in India, she asks a group of five young men to act in her film. By casting them in her film, Sue unwittingly awakens their patriotism and they turn into rebels for a cause.
There has been much said about these five male characters but what I want to draw your attention to is the role of Alice Patten who plays Sue, the white filmmaker through whose eyes we see the action unfold in the movie. It is one of the rare times when a white woman is given a lead role in a Bollywood movie where western women are always shown as sexualized objects, prostitutes or promiscuous and cunning people. It is Sue who sparks the patriotic spirit of the 5 young men, bringing them together with the help of Sonia (Soha Ali Khan), another strong character in the movie who is unfortunately placed in a more conventional role. But her turn as Durgawati Devi with her stunning body language and eyes smoldering with rage give us goose bumps. Stunning also is the part played by Waheeda Rehman as Mrs. Rathod who wants to get her deceased son justice. It makes Rang De Basanti a movie that is worth watching every year as it never loses relevance.
The movie revolves around Mohan (ShahRukh Khan) a project manager who is employed with NASA, who travels to India to take his nanny back along with him. Little does he know that this journey will change his life forever. At the village where his nanny, Kaveri Amma played by Kishori Ballal lives, he meets Gita (Gayatri Joshi) who takes care of her. Gita is an independent woman who takes care of her younger brother and Kaveri Amma, and works to improve the condition of the people in the village that is largely divided on the grounds of caste, class, religion and gender. And it is through her vision that Mohan gets a better understanding of the village and its problems and decides to help her. She also refuses to let go of her own dreams and move to the USA with Mohan, whom she loves.
In a movie that is largely about Mohan, Gita carves her space out and stands strong.
Biopic of Chungneijang Mary Kom Hmangte, an Indian Olympic Boxer, hailing from Manipur, the film was directed by Omung Kumar. She is a five-time World Amateur Boxing champion, and the only woman boxer to have won a medal in each one of the six world championships. Released in 2014, the film tells the story of Mary Kom (acted by Priyanka Chopra) and her boxing journey from a small village in Manipur to the big stadiums at Olympics as she faces the multiple hurdles of her gender, social identity and her family life to realize her dreams.
Although the over dramatization of the plot as is common in a lot of Bollywood movies kills the simple honesty of the true story, the film is worth a watch because of its lead actress Priyanka Chopra who like her character she plays packs a punch in her depiction of “Magnificent Mary”.
Released in 1994, the film revolves around the love blooming between Naren Singh (Anil Kapoor), son of a British loyalist and Rajjo Pathak ( Manisha Koirala), and daughter of a revolutionary during the turbulent times of 1942. However Naren’s father opposes their union and his plan exposes Rajjo’s father to the police and gets him killed.
That film did wonders for Manisha Koirala’s Bollywood careers as she adds beauty, innocence, yet a steely and unexpected determination to the character of Rajjo. Blending musical poetry with epic spectacle, “1942: A Love Story” stands as a definitive work of Indian filmmaking. The love in a war torn country remains one of the must-watch films.
A Tamil romantic thriller (that is also dubbed in Hindi), Roja is one of Mani Ratnam’s most remembered films. Roja (Madhoo), a simple girl from a village in Tamil Nadu gets married to Rishi (Arvind Swamy) a cryptologist working with R.A.W of India. But when her husband is kidnapped by militants during an undercover mission in Jammu and Kashmir, all hell breaks loose. Roja goes to every extent to bring her husband back, facing every barrier on the way including that of language. The scene where Roja desperately chases the cars on the street gives us goosbumps.
It is their undying love for each other that unites them again, and the strong chemistry between the lead pair makes it a visual delight to watch. What makes the film glitter the most is the strong humane element and the undying love (one of the most under-rated romances of Indian cinema) between the pair. Roja’s strong political and patriotic undertones, flawless treatment of the sensitive theme, and wonderful music by A R Rehman makes it a must watch.
Ashutosh Gowariker’s masterpiece, Lagaan revolves around Bhuvan (Amir Khan), a farmer from Champaner, who accepts the challenge of Captain Andrew Russell to beat the British at a game of cricket and refrain from paying tax for the next three years.
Thus a sport that now runs in the veins of Indians becomes political and helps bring in a social reform. Interesting also, is the character of Elizabeth(Rachel Shelley) who just like Suzie in Rang De Basanti plays an important role in the narrative as opposed to the “Gori Extra” that white women are made to play in most Bollywood movies. It is Elizabeth who goes against her brother Andrew and decides to help the villagers. She is the one who bridges the cultural gap between the groups and makes us think that not all Britishers are bad. Even though Gauri’s (Gracy Singh) character is more conventional as that of the jealous lover, the movie unfolds that her suspicions are not ill-founded. Despite this, the movie is worth a watch because of its splendid storyline and strong female characters.
Images source: Stills from movies
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B.A English Honours at Jadavpur University.
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