Independence Day 2021: from Aamir Khan’s Lagaan to Dilip Kumar’s Kranti

Independence @ 75: India’s Struggle for Freedom Through Cinema’s Wandering Eye (Image Credit: IMDb)

The camera never forgets. And neither did Bollywood cinema, which printed India’s collective cry for independence from British rule on celluloid on August 15, 1947.

Filmmakers, both domestic and foreign, found a treasure trove of material to capitalize on, but their central theme remained the same tumultuous events in recognition of the struggle of men and women that liberated India from foreign rule.

Remembering some of the unforgettable Bollywood movies that have stoked the fires of patriotism in three generations of Indians.


Directed by S. Ram Sharma, ‘Shaheed’ released in 1965 starring Manoj Kumar, Kamini Kaushal and Pran. Based on the life of the revolutionary Bhagat Singh, ‘Shaheed’ was the first of Manoj Kumar’s quartet of patriotic Bollywood films, followed by Upkar (1967), Purab Aur Paschim (1970) and Kranti (1981).


Manoj Kumar himself directed ‘Kranti’ with actors Dilip Kumar, Shashi Kapoor, Hema Malini, Shatrughan Sinha, Parveen Babi, Sarika, Prem Chopra and Madan Puri forming the galaxy of possibly the best-known patriotic film to date. The film set in the pre-freedom era of India marked the return of Dilip Kumar after a five-year hiatus.


British director Richard Attenborough’s 1982 co-production ‘Gandhi’ was perhaps the most iconic Bollywood film about Mahatma Gandhi. Hollywood star Ben Kingsley played the key role and the film, encompassing a spectacular ocular landscape, commented on the trials and triumphs of the father of the nation of India from his inception in South Africa to his assassination in 1948.


Legendary filmmaker Shyam Benegal’s director ‘Junoon’ hit theaters in 1978. Based on the book by British-born Indian author Ruskin Bond titled ‘A Flight of Pigeons,’ it turns the saga of the 1857 Indian uprising that the British call the mutiny of the sepoys. Actor Shashi Kapoor played a reckless feudal chieftain with a Pathan Muslim heritage, whose world revolves around the breeding of homing pigeons. His younger brother-in-law, played by veteran Naseeruddin Shah, is politically excited and soon plans to take the fight to the British. The film also features Shashi’s real-life wife Jennifer. It also stars Nafisa Ali, Tom Alter, Shabana Azmi, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, and Deepti Naval.


The first Bollywood production to qualify as a war movie was released in 1964 as a tribute to the Indian soldiers who fell during the brief but brutal border war with China two years earlier. ‘Ab Tumhaare Hawaale Vatan Saathiyo’ continues to be a hit on the charts and a reminder of the sacrifices of our security forces. ‘Haqeeqat’ was directed by Chetan Anand and features Dharmendra, Balraj Sahni, Priya Rajvansh, and Vijay Anand.

‘1942: A love story “

Jackie Shroff and Manisha Koirala’s action film ‘1942: A Love Story’ released in 1994. The film, directed by Vidhu Vinod Chopra, revolves around the son of a politician, loyal to the British, who has an affair with the daughter of a freedom. fighter. They are separated during the revolution when his father plans to assassinate a British general.


Aamir Khan, starring “Lagaan,” or agricultural tax in English, was released in 2001 and directed by Ashutosh Gowariker. The British Raj-era sports drama tells the story of a farmer named Bhuvan who bet with the English to beat them at cricket for a three-year tax break. The Bollywood film garnered an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film.

‘Mangal Pandey: The Rising’

Based on an Indian soldier named Mangal Panday, directed by Ketan Mehta, it was rehearsed by Bollywood actor and producer Aamir Khan. ‘Mangal Pandey: The Rising’ is a true story based on the life of the main character. Soldiers rebelled against their then British masters with others in 1857.

‘Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey’

Starring Deepika Padukone and Abhishek Bachchan, ‘Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey’ premiered in 2010 and was directed by Ashutosh Gowariker of ‘Lagaan’ Fame. It tells a story of the Chittagong uprising against British rule in 1930, showing an attack on the British by a group of school children who planned the assault without the knowledge of their parents.

(Durga Chakravarty can be reached at [email protected])

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