India celebrates its 65th Independence Day on August 15, 2012. In a country rich with culture and patriotism, the love for cinema and its beautiful renditions of the Indian nation right from the pre-Independence period, never fails to entertain the masses. It instills in them not only a sense of belonging and brotherhood, but also makes them value the freedom they have achieved. The cinema industry in India has produced some of the finest films over the years, some of which have gone down in history as cinematic masterpieces. This August 15, celebrate Indian Independence with the tricolor, music and a movie night that has something for everyone:
1. Gandhi – 1982
This film is perhaps the best biographical work on Mahatma Gandhi. Sir Richard Attenborough’s directorial genius and Ben Kingsley’s unparalleled portrayal of the great leader earned the film eight Academy Awards and won the hearts of millions of people. What remains to be the most redeeming part of this film is the subtlety with which Gandhi’s life has been presented to the viewers, and is in no way a commentary on his methods of non-violence or leadership. What each viewer takes back from this film is the spirit of one man with an entire nation behind him. A must watch for those who are ardent fans of Gandhi.
2. Lagaan – 2001
India’s official entry to the Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Language Film category in 2001, this film has gone down history as one of the best modern day renditions of Indian rebellion against British rule. With a heady mix of cricket and drama, this film is loved for its simplicity, the brilliant performances and the way the spirit of cricket is imbibed in it. The film sends across an important message about team work, working around differences and emerging victorious despite seemingly hopeless circumstances. A perfect blend of Bollywood music and drama, that leaves viewers wanting more.
3. Shatranj Ke Khiladi – 1977
Pre-British India has been dramatized in many films, but one of the best remembered films from this category is Shatranj Ke Khiladi. A true blast from the past, the film wasn’t liked by many critics, but remains to be a favorite among film lovers. The film is a portrayal of the attitude of Mughal kings towards the end of the Mughal era, when British dominance was on the rise. The failure of the Mughals to protect the land from foreign domination is shown in the backdrop of the city of Lucknow which was under the rule Nawab Wajid Ali Shah. The film follows a game of chess being played by two noblemen. Ray’s style of direction and Amitabh Bachchan’s excellent narration makes this film perfect for a movie night filled with antiquity and pure, unadulterated cinema.
4. Rang De Basanti – 2006
No film has struck a chord with the Indian youth and the nation at large, than Rang De Basanti. This film is about awakening, about the youth taking charge of what those in power wish to ignore. This film also established Aamir Khan has not just a tasteful actor, but an actor who looks for substance in his films. With a brilliant cinematography that takes viewers back and forth in time, to the time of rebellion during the Indian Freedom Struggle and back to the present, a modern day world where righteousness and truth has been buried deep. What the film seeks to express is that the spirit of freedom and rebellion is something that transcends time, and that the youth of the country is still ready to bring themselves to the front in the face of injustice and oppression. The film brought back patriotism as a concept that is not restricted to a particular age or history books. With an equal share of light hearted moments and serious undertones that range from communalism to corruption, this film can bring an August 15 movie night to life.
5. Swades – 2004
While films on India have always been more interested in either the British Raj or the idea of achieving freedom on a larger level, this film chose to address not freedom, but what that freedom has brought for the country, and what it means to be free for the common man. Shahrukh Khan plays the role of a successful Indian scientist working at NASA, who returns to his country for a while to take his nanny to America. The film is set in a quaint village of India where the reality of freedom and development is questionable. The rediscovering of roots and the complexities of the modern day India have been brought forth beautifully in this film, and Shahrukh Khan’s acting has only added to its charm. This film inspires change in a way no other film set in modern day India can.