As India celebrates its 74th Republic Day, the nation is filled with pride and a sense of patriotism. Over the years, we have seen a shift in the way patriotism is depicted in Hindi cinema. The representation of nationalism themes in patriotic movies varies, sometimes depicting chest-thumping soldiers fighting against the country’s enemies, while other times showing a more realistic representation of the pre-independence era, the freedom struggle, and the Republic state.
These films wear nationalism on their sleeves without resorting to excessive jingoism. We have selected 10 Patriotic Bollywood movies that promote nationalism without resorting to jingoism.
1. The Legend of Bhagat Singh (2002)
“The Legend of Bhagat Singh” is a 2002 Indian historical biographical film, directed by Rajkumar Santoshi and starring Ajay Devgn in the titular role of Bhagat Singh, a socialist revolutionary who fought for Indian independence during the British Raj. The film tells the story of Bhagat Singh’s life, starting from his childhood and continuing through his political activism and eventual execution by the British government.
The film also highlights the struggles of other Indian freedom fighters and the political climate of the time. It was praised for its powerful performances, especially Ajay Devgn’s portrayal of Bhagat Singh, and its accurate and realistic depiction of historical events and figures.
2. Swades (2004)
“Swades” is a 2004 Indian film directed by Ashutosh Gowariker and starring Shah Rukh Khan and Gayatri Joshi. The film tells the story of a successful Indian scientist, Mohan Bhargava, who returns to India from the United States to take a trip to his village and reconnect with his roots. He’s on a quest to find his childhood nanny, Kaveriamma, and bring her back to America, but his journey leads him to become a part of the village, and the struggles that the people face.
The film explores the themes of cultural identity, self-discovery, and social justice, and it is one of the most realistic portrayals of rural India. The film was praised particularly Shah Rukh Khan’s portrayal of Mohan.
3. Rang De Basanti (2006)
“Rang De Basanti” is a 2006 Indian film directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra and starring Aamir Khan, Soha Ali Khan, and Siddharth Narayan. The film tells the story of a group of young Indian friends who, inspired by the revolutionary spirit of Bhagat Singh, Chandra Shekhar Azad, and their comrades, become politically active and end up making the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
The film explores the themes of patriotism, sacrifice, and the role of young people in shaping their country’s future. The film was praised particularly for Aamir Khan’s portrayal of Daljit.
4. Chak De India (2007)
“Chak De India” is a 2007 Indian sports film directed by Shimit Amin and starring Shah Rukh Khan. The film tells the story of Kabir Khan, a former Indian field hockey player, who is appointed as the coach of the Indian national women’s hockey team, which is composed of players from different backgrounds and cultures.
He faces challenges in uniting the team and overcoming their prejudices but ultimately leads them to success in the World Cup. The film explores themes of team spirit, unity, and gender equality.
5. A Wednesday (2008)
“A Wednesday” is a 2008 Indian thriller film directed by Neeraj Pandey, starring Naseeruddin Shah and Anupam Kher in the lead roles. The film tells the story of an anonymous man, who calls the Mumbai police commissioner and reveals that he has placed five bombs in the city, and will only defuse them if his demands are met.
The film explores themes of justice, corruption, and the power of an individual to make a change. It was praised for its performances, particularly Naseeruddin Shah and Anupam Kher, its taut direction, and its strong message about the importance of justice and integrity.
6. Raazi (2018)
“Raazi” is a 2018 Indian spy thriller film directed by Meghna Gulzar and starring Alia Bhatt in the lead role. The film is based on the true story of a young woman, Sehmat Khan, who is trained as a spy by India’s intelligence agency and sent to Pakistan in 1971, during the Indo-Pakistani War, to gather intelligence.
The film explores themes of sacrifice, love, and identity. The film also showcased a strong female lead character and its accurate and realistic portrayal of historical events and figures.
7. Article 15 (2019)
“Article 15” is a 2019 Indian crime drama film directed by Anubhav Sinha, starring Ayushmann Khurrana in the lead role. The film is based on real-life events and it explores the theme of caste discrimination and corruption in rural India. It tells the story of a young police officer who is assigned to a remote village in Uttar Pradesh and uncovers the shocking truth behind the murder of three lower-caste girls.
The film was critically acclaimed for its powerful and hard-hitting message, performances, and its realistic and accurate portrayal of the issues it deals with.
8. Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl (2020)
“Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl” is a 2020 Indian biographical film directed by Sharan Sharma, starring Janhvi Kapoor in the lead role. The film is based on the life of Gunjan Saxena, who became the first Indian woman air-force pilot to fly in a combat zone during the Kargil War in 1999.
The film explores themes of gender equality, discrimination, and patriotism. The film was well received for its performances, particularly Janhvi Kapoor, and its strong message about the importance of gender equality and female empowerment.
9. Shershaah (2021)
“Shershaah” is a 2021 Indian biographical war film directed by Vishnuvardhan and starring Sidharth Malhotra in the lead role. The film is based on the life of army captain Vikram Batra, who was awarded the Param Vir Chakra, India’s highest military decoration, for his actions during the 1999 Kargil War.
The film explores themes of bravery, leadership, and sacrifice. The movie showcased the events of the Kargil War and how Captain Vikram Batra’s leadership and courage in the face of adversity. The film will be a tribute to the Indian armed forces and their sacrifices.
10. Sardar Udham (2021)
“Sardar Udham” is a 2021 Indian biographical film directed by Shoojit Sircar, with Vicky Kaushal in the lead role. The film is based on the life of freedom fighter Sardar Udham Singh, who assassinated Michael O’Dwyer, the former lieutenant governor of Punjab in British India, in 1940 in revenge for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.
The film explores themes of revenge, sacrifice, and patriotism. The movie is not released yet. The film showcases the events leading up to the assassination and the aftermath of Udham Singh’s actions and is a tribute to the Indian freedom fighters and their sacrifices.
Few Final Words
These patriotic Bollywood movies are not just a way to entertain but also to educate and inspire the viewers, to remind them of the sacrifices and struggles that our forefathers went through to gain the freedom we have today, and to promote the idea of unity, harmony and oneness among the citizens. They also bring out the cultural and traditional values of the country which are often overlooked in the fast pace of modern life.