Bollywood: Jingoism or the Emergence of Nationalism in Modern India?

Pujit Siddhant

Nov 27 2023

<div style=' background:#FFFFFF;color:#000000;font-family:Verdana;width:auto;padding:5px;max-height:100%;'><span><p>In the past, patriotism in Bollywood typically meant a military movie filled with the feelings of glory and heroism as well as a vociferous declaration of nationalism that frequently bordered on jingoism. The trend was slowly but steadily shifting. Bollywood's new sense of patriotism was upending the conventional formula by directing the storyline towards honouring individuals and events that have made India proud, therefore igniting a love and passion for the country. It is true that films mirror society, as all works of art are impacted by the environments in which their authors were raised.&nbsp;</p><p>Manoj Kumar's name was long associated with patriotic films. After that, Sunny Deol rose to prominence as a symbol of a larger-than-life type of patriotism that was frequently shown in cross-border plays like Border and Gadar: Ek Prem Katha through conflicts with the adversary, generally Pakistan. There were two Bhagat Singh films from that time period: The Legend Of Bhagat Singh, which was more subdued and earned Ajay Devgn a National Award, and one starring Sunny Deol and his brother Bobby Deol.&nbsp;</p><p>The new patriotism that emerged in Bollywood in the 2010’s, moved away from such overt declarations of love for one's nation. Akshay Kumar is one among the performers who has experimented with the concept in films like Airlift, Gold, Pad Man, Mission Mangal, Baby, and even the fiery Kesari, where patriotism is defined by activities other than fighting for one's country in uniform. Here are some other movies in this period that evoked the same sentiments in the audience.&nbsp;<br></p><p><br></p><span></div><div style=' background:#FFFFFF;color:#000000;font-family:Verdana;width:auto;padding:5px;max-height:100%;'><span><p>Netflix's Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl leverages the concept of women's strength to advance a sense of nationalism in a similar way as Mary Kom did a few years ago. Both ladies enhanced the Tricolour's honour by achieving firsts in their fields and elevating India's reputation. Mission Mangal demonstrated how a group of women who led the ISRO's Mars Orbiter Mission—represented onscreen by Vidya Balan, Sonakshi Sinha, Taapsee Pannu, Kirti Kulhari and Nithya Menon—would also fall under this category of films. Therefore, it has a significant influence on how we see patriotism when the storyline in Bollywood films shifts from individuals who have just done things that genuinely show patriotism in its true meaning to those whose actions actually portray patriotism as being about war and jingoism. I'm happy that we may celebrate wins that do not necessarily include defeating other people or nations, as well as victories that do not involve conflict.&nbsp; Dangal, Satyamev Jayate, Chak De! India, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, and Mulk, among others, are other films that have done this over the years to honour patriotism. Rang De Basanti, which attempts to comprehend contemporary India and the contemporary young using the nation's past, is one of the few films that has praised patriotism at a more nuanced level. As long as the narrative has some force and appeals to people's emotions, it is a sound tactic.&nbsp;</p><p><br></p><p>In recent times though, there has been a noticeable move towards hyper-nationalistic and jingoistic storylines in the recent cinema output. “The BJP has come up with a strategy to combine nationalism and communalism … They won’t directly fund those movies. Many times we don’t even understand those movies. Uri, The Kashmir Files, Adipurush, etc. How come their timing is so convenient? It’s because BJP is working in a multi-faceted way to make this happen,” KTR,&nbsp; (Minister of IT, Telangana) said in April, in an interview to a TV channel.&nbsp; Pure economics is one justification for this. Despite being shot on a shoestring budget, films like The Kashmir Files and The Kerala Story generated enormous revenues, proving that there is a demand for them. Filmmakers are hoping to capitalise on this market.&nbsp;</p><p>RRR, a blockbuster from SS Rajamouli is an experiment in this direction where the two protagonists, whose characters are loosely based on freedom fighters Alluri Seeta Rama Raju and Komaram Bheem, join forces to pummel the British Empire in a truly filmy style. Of course, research continues to be done on the old kind of patriotism, which was supported by war and tales of India's struggle for freedom. With Uri: The Surgical Strike's dramatization of new-age battle dynamics, Vicky Kaushal achieved the biggest success of his career.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p><br></p><p>“It is the market and capital which determines what kind of films should be made. At present, across the country there is a nationalistic, jingoistic, and communal fervour, which the filmmakers want to exploit,” says senior Telugu film critic and journalist Bharadwaja Rangavajhala.&nbsp; “Rajamouli’s RRR was an outright Hindutva film. The freedom fighters Alluri Sitarama Raju and Komaram Bheem were turned into Hindu gods Rama and Hanuman so that the film would work well across India. Rajamouli realised that there was a market for such films and encashed it," senior Telugu film critic and journalist Bharadwaja Rangavajhala said to the the wire.&nbsp;</p><p>Gandhi and Nehru are conspicuously absent from RRR's song "Etthara Jenda," a homage to Indian freedom fighters. It was an intentional choice, according to Vijayendra Prasad, the film's writer and Rajamouli's father. Vijayendra Prasad remarked of Gandhi's support of Nehru over Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel as India's first prime minister, "If Patel was [made PM], Kashmir would not have been burning like a 'Ravana kashtam' (Ravana's funeral pyre)."&nbsp;<br></p><p>This story is consistent with the views on the subject that Prime Minister Narendra Modi articulated in the parliament back in 2018. However, historical evidence suggests that Patel's views on Kashmir were not as clear, and there is no unambiguous documentation of his intended course of action.&nbsp;<br></p><p><br></p><p>The definition of patriotism is crucial, and a fine line exists between patriotism and jingoism. Patriotism stems from love for one's motherland, a sense of belonging, and a genuine affinity for the place of origin. It should not be fuelled by hatred towards a community, people, or land. True patriotism is about love, not hate.&nbsp;</p><p><br></p><p>&nbsp;</p><span></div>

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