As the year comes to an end, we can’t help but wonder the way the narrative has changed in Indian cinema, especially Bollywood. Beginning from the not so great, but essential movie ‘Raid’, to the much talked about forthcoming biopic ‘The Accidental Prime Minister’, we can’t help but wonder, has Indian cinema finally learned to recognize India’s true heroes?
As the year began, Bollywood had some interesting movies lined up for the cinemagoers. Beginning with ‘Raid’, based on the longest ever income tax raid in Indian history, the Bollywood progressed further with ’Raazi’, directed by Meghna Gulzar.
Starring Alia Bhatt in lead role, the movie centered on a female spy, who risks everything she had in order to save India from the Pakistani forces during the Indo Pak War of 1971. Even though the brains behind the movie didn’t seem to be that noble, the movie was surprisingly kept free from malice. Needless to say, it earned a good amount at the box office.
However, what set the trend for the slow, but significant change in Bollywood’s narrative was the release of one movie, ‘Parmanu.’ Directed by ‘Tere Bin Laden’ fame Abhishek Sharma, and starring John Abraham, Diana Penty and Boman Irani in principal roles, this movie was based on the iconic nuclear tests undertaken at Pokhran in 1998. This was not a run of the mill Bollywood masala, but for the first time, made an honest attempt to give justice to the real heroes of India without demonizing them the way Bollywood is too notorious for.
Moreover, the movie was unapologetic in its applause for the real heroes, be it on the political front with Atal Bihari Vajpayee, or on the actual front by paying tributes to the actual scientists like R. Santhanam, APJ Abdul Kalam etc. No wonder why it got massive brickbats from the left liberal critics the moment it hit the silver screen.
However, the attempts to discredit the brilliance of ‘Parmanu’ fell flat on face, as strong word of mouth publicity, backed by strong, gripping content, compelled Parmanu to stay aloft in face of high profile movies like ‘Veere Di Wedding’, and it eventually emerged as a box office hit, earning Rs. 92 crores worldwide on a budget of Rs. 41 crores.
‘Parmanu’ was followed up by ‘Gold’; the much talked about biopic starring Akshay Kumar, Mouni Roy, Amit Sadh, Sunny Kaushal etc. in principal roles. Based on India’s first Olympic medal as a free nation at London Olympics 1948, this movie was an entertaining tribute to the people, who wanted to see the Indian tricolor at the top of the podium. Like ‘Parmanu’, the left liberal critics swooped down upon this film too, and once again failed, as the film earned over Rs. 150 crores worldwide.
Even regional cinema wasn’t far behind. Led by Diljit Dosanjh, who depicted the ordeals of Indian soldiers fighting in the World War I in his movie ‘Sajjan Singh Rangroot’, directed by Pankaj Batra, the Punjabi cinema paid glorious tributes to the real heroes, be it Gippy Grewal, who portrayed the 1962 Indo China war hero Subedar Joginder Singh Sahnan in the biopic of the same name, or singer cum actor Ammy Virk, who essayed the iconic role of Harjeet Singh in ‘Harjeeta’, who had led the Indian hockey team to a memorable victory in the 2016 Junior Hockey World Cup.
What’s better, the entire Indian cinema seems to now go under a massive change in its narratives, as the year 2019 draws near. From Nandamuri Balakrishna, who is essaying his own father and iconic Telugu star NT Rama Rao in the two film series ‘NTR – Kathanayakudu and Mahanayakudu’, to Kangana Ranaut who is paying tributes to Rani Lakshmibai with her biopic ‘Manikarnika’, to even the likes of ‘Uri’, starring Paresh Rawal, Vicky Kaushal, Yami Gautam and Mohit Raina etc. in principal roles, that seems like a fitting tribute to the surgical strikes of 2016, Indian cinema’s future looks bright and promising.
There was a time when Indian cinema, especially Bollywood, missed a huge chance to portray the achievements of genius mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan, owing to its inherent contempt for native heroes, especially the ones who are Hindu by religion. Now this might seem to be a thing of the past, if the filmmakers continue to explore subjects like that of ‘Parmanu’, ‘Gold’ etc. without hesitation. Now, it seems the trend is changing.
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