Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Celebrating Indian Independence Day: Movie Style

15th August 1947 was the day when India got its Independence from British Rule for almost 150 years. Today marks the 66th Independence Day of India. This calls for the celebration and this being a movie blog, I am going to celebrate it with movies. Growing up, I always associated this day with 3 things - Flag hoisting in my school/college, National parade on Vijay Path in New Delhi and our own small celebration at home with something special for Lunch. I would get up bright and early, get ready and go to school for the flag hoisting at around 6.30 - 7, be back at home in an hour and sit in front of the TV for parade. Even now, these are the two things that I miss most about Independence day. Not that any of it has stopped, I just don't get time to do that any more and that is the reason that even though I am celebrating this whole day with movies that will tell something about various aspects of Indian Pride, our so-called coverage still starts at 10:00 AM which shall give you the time to attend them both and goes on till the midnight. There are movies here which talk about some of the legends who sacrificed their life for the freedom of their country, their are movie which comment on social and economical culture of India, also there are movies which narrate how we fought with our enemies - external or internal. So let me wish all Indian anywhere on earth Happy Independence Day! and take your leave with a hope that you will like these movies just as much as I do.

10:00 AM: Sarfarosh(1999)
This movie has a rare distinction of being only movie I have seen thrice in a single day. It's just that good ! First of all, in 1999 and for that matter even now, it is kinda rare that a real story - in this case, smuggling of arms across Indian borders - takes precedence over a love story. Secondly, besides being an insanely quotable(couple of my cousins gave up on watching this movie with me, because I kept on saying those dialogues with the movie) and one of the personal favorites, in my opinion there are very few movies which have such a great acting talent on display. Their is no doubt that Aamir Khan and Nassiruddin Shah in two main roles are at their best but their is an army of supporting cast - Mukesh Rishi, Akhilendra Mishra, Govind Namdev, Ahmad Khan, Makrand Deshpande - that elevate the whole movie to another level. For a movie that essentially works on your feelings, there is a very real chance that it can get cheesy or preachy. Sarfarosh never does. Not only on this day but even on any other day, this movie remains a Must Watch in my books.

I am actually happy that I finally saw this movie after procrastinating this forever. To tell you the truth, I kept on pushing it because I thought it would be much more cry-fest than it is. However, it is so much more than anything I expected. I am really glad that I finally saw it because I think it might even become one of my favorites. Now, this - story of a woman who fights against pretty much everything, just so as to give her children better life - is also not really patriotic but is considered such, I am guessing, mainly because of the title. However, despite that I am including it in line-up mainly because it has so much of sub-text in it about socio-economical culture of India, especially during early 20th century. It is very 50s but also very strongly Indian. You will probably not even hear about half the things that happen in this movie, anywhere outside India. It also isn't the only movie which comments on social issues and almost all of them take similar path but it certainly is the most popular because of being first Indian movie to be nominated for Oscars. It has a run time of very close to three hours but strangely it doesn't feel so long, more so since it is a melodramatic movie based on social issues. I will agree that once both her sons grow up, it takes a little more time than it should to reach the eventual ending but it didn't really bother me.

4:00 PM: Upkar
When you talk about patriotic movies, ask any Indian and one name that is guaranteed to be mentioned is Manoj Kumar, also known as Bharat Kumar as his character would be almost always named 'Bharat'. He did a lot of movies that can be easily included in the list like Kranti(1981) and Purab aur Pacchim(1970) but the reason I chose over others is I needed a reason to watch it again just to confirm if I had seen this before or not. After watching it, I am going to stick with my decision because this story of Bharat who is actually farmer but joins an army because of Famility dispute with his step-brother looks like it wasn't made for commercial purpose but to promote government policies like get farmers back to their villages, increase popularity of military forces among public, increase literacy and family planning etc.
7:00 PM: Border(1997)
Another movie I am going to stick with. I was thinking of going for Haqeeqat(1964) because even though I have seen it, it is so long ago that the only thing I remember about it is 'E Mere Watan Ke Logo' and this would be my chance to refresh my memory. But that doesn't mean Border is any inferior. Moreover, Haqeeqat is about 1962 war which India lost and Border is about 1971 war which we won and since this is a celebration, all the more reason for it. This is based on True events though not everything that happens in this movie is true. This is story of battle at Longewala where 120 Indian soldiers stood up against army of 2000-strong for whole night and bring home a great victory for their country. In all fairness, I will be hard-pressed to tell you something from this movie that stands out but somehow, as a whole, this movie works wonderfully well.
Back when I saw Huger(2008) for the first time, first thing it reminded me of was Bhagat Singh. Bhagat Singh was a revolutionary in pre-independence India. In 1930, he surrendered himself to gain more political support for his cause. While in jail waiting for the result of multiple charges he was facing, along with many of his fellow revolutionaries, he went on a Hunger strike for 116 days. Though not as polarizing as Bobby Sands and his IRA hunger strike, even this group endured a lot during this time of test of both their body and character. Bhagat Singh was eventually hanged on 23rd March 1931 along with Rajguru and Sukhdev. He was 23 years old. Not only because it is important to remember people like Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev who gave India its freedom but also because it is largely accurate and exemplary piece of movie-making with tremendous performance by Ajay Devgan in titular role of Bhagat Singh, this movie more than deserves to be seen on such a day of National pride.


  1. Great post, and happy Indian Independence Day!
    I didn't like Sarfarosh too much, I simply found it boring - but maybe it just wasn't the right time to watch it. I agree that Naseeruddin Shah and Aamir are amazing in it though.
    I also rather liked Mother India, but also this one really was boring at times. And despite what you say, I think there were some really patriotic scenes.
    The other movies sound really good too, I've been wanting to see The Legend of Bhagat Singh for a long time.

    1. Thanks Mette !

      Wow ! I don't think I know anyone who found Sarfarosh boring. Maybe you will like it more if you watch it again. I understand what you are saying about Mother India as well.

      Definitely try and watch Legend. You might like it even though for completely different reasons.

  2. Happy Independence Day!
    I haven't seen Sarfarosh in the longest time, and I really loved that film. The songs, ohmygod. Like I'm not much of a ghazal person, but ohmygawd.
    I have not seen Upkar. I have seen Mother India but I only remember it faintly.

    1. Thanks and to you too !!

      My Brother was a big Ghazal Fan. So, I have listened a lot of Mehandi Hasan, Ghulam Ali and Jagjit Singh but I agree that 'Hoshwalon ko' was one of the best Ghazals especially since it brought many people to the format.

  3. I'm so glad I found your blog, well you did follow mine first. But I love to learn about the films of the native country of someone. Thank you for this great post! I'll be hanging around!

    1. Thank YOU for reading it Michael. I always think that no enough people have seen Indian movies so I try and do my share. Hopefully, someone might start liking them!


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