We recommend ten movies that pay tribute to the sacrifices of our freedom fighters, and promote patriotism, brotherhood and unity in diversity. You can stream these movies online as India celebrates its 74th Independence Day.
Our freedom-loving ancestors fought fire with fire until Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi introduced an extremely radical idea into the freedom struggle: non-violence. And the British forces grasped in darkness without knowing how to respond to a little man, who refused to hit back. Legendary filmmaker Richard Attenborough captured the origin of Gandhi and the true spirit of his non-violence movement that uprooted an empire in the sprawling 1982 biopic Gandhi. (Gandhi is available for streaming at https://www.cinemasofindia.com until August 21)
Kamal Haasan mixed fiction and documented history to whip up a kaleidoscopic view of volatile times in India in the wake of partition. Kamal’s Saket Ram is traumatised by the communal clashes. And some vested interests weaponize his pain and rage to kill Gandhi. Will he succeed in his mission? (Hey Ram is available on Amazon Prime Video)
Filmmaker Priyadarshan and his co-writer T. Damodaran transport the audience to the colonial era and give us a ring-side view of the inhuman treatment that was meted out to political prisoners in the infamous Kalapani jail, located in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Many characters in the movie, including Mohanlal’s Dr. Govardhan Menon, are constantly made to choose between obedience that would make their lives easy and disobedience that comes with endless suffering. And every time, they pick suffering. It is imperative to remember their sacrifices so that we don’t take our freedom for granted. (Kalapani is available on Disney+Hotstar)
Arvind Swami’s Rishi Kumar is kidnapped by terrorists in Kashmir. The terrorists demand the release of a dreaded terrorist in exchange for Rishi’s freedom. The Indian government is considering the demand, thanks to Rishi’s wife Roja (Madhoo), who is relentless to secure her husband’s freedom. In the meantime, Rishi has quietly resigned to his fate in captivity. Until a terrorist tries to burn the Indian flag. His hands are tied, and machine gun-wielding terrorists surround him. And yet he jumps into action to protect the flag and gives terrorists a good beating. To make a point, Mani Ratnam puts his protagonist literally on fire. That’s modern-day patriotism in a nutshell. He chooses suffering over obedience. (Roja is available on ZEE5)
A family gets torn apart in a communal flare-up that happens in the streets of Bombay following the demolition of Babri Masjid in Uttar Pradesh. And you would be lying if you say that your eyes don’t well up every time you see the climax scene, where people come together in peace and form a human chain honouring India’s diversity as AR Rahman’s “Malarodu Malaringu” plays in the backdrop. (Bombay is available on Amazon Prime Video)
A freedom-fighter, in his 70s, is living peacefully with his wife and daughter in his village. But, he suffers a personal loss that makes him see that something is rotten in the country. So he comes back from retirement to do what he knows best: gorilla warfare. The only difference is his war is not against colonialism but the corruption that is hampering the country’s progress. Sit back, relax, and let Kamal Haasan blow your mind with his performance. (Indian is available on Amazon Prime Video)
The 2010 anthology movie reflects on how bigotry alienates people and fills them with hate. With some memorable performances by Allu Arjun, Anushka Shetty and Manoj Bajpayee, the film shows that the “spoilt” and “selfish” generation of youngsters can rise to the occasion and be willing to make great sacrifices in service of the country. (Vedam is available on Sun NXT)
Chak De! India
Is there a better way to celebrate India’s sprawling diversity than making a movie about the country’s national sport, hockey? And show what we can accomplish on the world stage if we rise above our differences and unite. It is one of those Shah Rukh Khan films that you can’t have enough of, regardless of how many times you have seen it. (Chak De! India is available on Amazon Prime Video)
It is an endearing tale of an aimless youngster finding his life’s true purpose in the midst of a war. The film, which is set in the backdrop of Kargil war, did not fare well with the audience when it came out in 2004. However, like all good movies, it has passed the test of time with flying colours. The movie has since developed a cult status. And you also see Hrithik Roshan’s most realised performance in it. (Lakshya is available on Netflix)
Rang De Basanti
Talking about aimless and selfish youngsters, we can’t miss Rakesh Omprakash Mehra’s socio-political drama. What happens when you wake up the comatose patriotism in youth and make them learn about the power of sacrifice? Change. (Rang De Basanti is available on Netflix)
Which is your favourite movie that defines the idea of independent India?
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines