Bollywood movies: Epitomize national integration and cultural affinity
The trend continues unabated. Films like ‘Karma,’ ‘Border,’ ‘Rang de Basanti’, ‘Sarfarosh’, ‘The Legend of Bhagat Singh,’ etc. magnificently galvanize patriotic emotion.
The sky-rocketing success of ‘Pathan’ and ‘Mrs. Chatterjee vs. Norway’, two recently released Bollywood movies, can be attributed to their magnificent direction and deft presentation, making them immensely watchable despite their widely divergent themes, content, and viewpoints. While Pathan is a thriller packed with action, Mrs. Chatterjee vs. Norway is an emotional family drama in which an Indian mother fights a legal battle against the Norwegian foster care system. Needless to reiterate, in a vast and populous country like ours bedevilled with multitudinous divergences in caste, creed, language, educational, religious, and aesthetic perspectives, it speaks highly of Bollywood film makers producing movies that annihilate such inherent differences, cater to the varied tastes of teeming millions of connoisseurs, and win their appreciation during the last seven decades or so. In the backdrop of the dreaded COVID pandemic impacting adversely on commercial success, the box office hits of the two Bollywood movies across the country are heartening, besides glorifying our uniform thought process and cultural affinity, nay, ‘Indianness.’
In consonance with the spirit of intense patriotism pervading the country during the first two decades of our post-independence period, when the nation was slowly but steadily emphasizing her presence among the superpowers of the world, Bollywood films with patriotic themes had an overwhelming impact on countrywide cinegoers. The movie ‘Mother India’ is a classic example that showcases quintessential, fearless Indian women ready to sacrifice their dear ones for the cause of their motherland. In the same breath, movies like ‘Saheed’, ‘Jis Desh mein Ganga Behti Hain’, ‘Haqeeqat,’ ‘Upkar,’ ‘Purab aur Paschhem’, even ‘Naya Daur’, etc. were other such movies, to name a few, arousing nationalism and evoking pride for cultural heritage.
The trend continues unabated. Films like ‘Karma,’ ‘Border,’ ‘Rang de Basanti’, ‘Sarfarosh’, ‘The Legend of Bhagat Singh,’ etc. magnificently galvanize patriotic emotion. Departing from conventional style, ‘Lagaan’ is an intensely watched movie with a subtle blending of cricket and political intrigue stirring nationalistic fervour in a high drama. In fact, the sight of a group of poor Indian farmers beating sophisticated English cricketers in their own game of cricket immensely satisfies the ego of patriotic Indians, which accounts for the skyrocketing success of Laagan.
Movies like ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’ and ‘Mary Kom’ have brought alive on celluloid the heroes who brought laurels to the country. Their popularity gave us an idea of the demographic dividend of our country, as more people could resonate with these stories and their perseverance.
The romantic movies of Bollywood were the oasis for the entertainment-starved, beleaguered Indian audience in the formative days of our independence. Even a casual glance at the history of Bollywood movies right from the 1950s vindicates the saying that romance is the essence of Indian cinema, and Bollywood has successfully delivered gems when it comes to tales of love interspersed with mellifluous, mind-blowing songs. Raj Kapoor’s “Awara,” “Barsat Shree 420,” , Boot Polish,” etc. are intensely romantic movies, besides highlighting socialist themes in line with our rich heritage and constitutional propriety. His acting style had earned the sobriquet Indian ‘Charlie Chaplin’. Stylish Devanand, with his flamboyant image in Baazi, Jewel Thief, etc., had a mesmerizing effect on Indian cinegoers who saw streaks of ‘Gregory Peck’ in him. ‘Mughal-e-Azam,’ ‘Madhumati,’ ‘Ganga-Jamuna,’ etc. were the super duper movies of Dilip Kumar, fondly described as ‘Tragedy King.’
The typically rich Indian family values, be they parental or sibling relationships, get showcased on celluloid, consolidating the inherent respectful ties that bind Indian families. Movies like ‘Fiza,’ ‘Josh,’ and ‘Satte pe Satta’, among many others, embody the spirit of sibling relationships superbly.
Revenge themes and bloodcurdling violence interspersed with a multi-star cast saw the flourishing of Bollywood filmdom in the 70s. The traditional goody-goody, romantic heroes running after heroines behind trees singing songs had given way to jeans-wearing, bearded heroes determined to take revenge on the wrongdoers. ‘Yaadon ki Barat’, ‘Aaj ki Mahatma,’ ‘Jaani Dushman,’ etc. had opened a new chapter of action-packed thrillers in the Bollywood film world.
The advent of Amitabh Bachchan, popularly described as ‘Big B’, with his sonorous voice, ushered in a new horizon in an otherwise placid, stereotyped Bollywood world. An angry young police officer using the choicest words to denigrate his opponents was just the image a changing India, hungry for action, was looking for. Bachchan’s breakthrough, Zanjeer, was also a path-breaker. The hero’s prime interest was avenging his parents’ murder, not romance with the heroine. Further ‘Trishul’, ‘Deewar,’ ‘Mard,’ etc. had created the angry young man persona that was to dominate Hindi cinema for a long while.
Superbly entertaining ‘Amar Akbar Anthony’ had an awesome impact on Indian cinegoers, besides highlighting the ethos of Indian secularism. ‘Kabhi Kabhie’, ‘Silsila,’ ‘Namak Halaal,’ ‘Mard,’ etc. all had a spell-bounding effect on the Indian audience, cutting across all differences of religion, caste, and language and endearing the larger-than-life persona of Big B.
Any discussion on Bollywood movies remains incomplete without mentioning the name of Sholay, the blockbuster and quintessential entertainer that rocked India in the 70s and continues to entertain movie buffs euphorically even today. Sholay is often regarded as one of the greatest and most influential Indian films of all time. It was ranked first in the British Film Institute’s 2002 poll of the “Top 10 Indian Films’ of all time. In 2005, the judges of the 50th Filmfare Awards named it the Best Film of 50 Years.
In the formative years of independent India, devoid of the internet and social media, Bollywood movies played a significant role in providing a platform for national unity, consolidating the integrating threads from Kashmir to Kannyakumari.