Republic Day is here and the trumpets are in tune. Our zeal, coupled with a fleeting sense of patriotism, is on a self-induced high. Tri-colored jerseys, sarees, stoles, salwar-suites and all other bits of symbolic attire are being dug up from closets in a blind bid for cultural tokenism. Mind you, they will be dry-cleaned for reuse, before finally landing up behind a not so frequently worn straight fit jeans and an obsolete pair of timeless checkered shirt, gifted by mom.
Much like the fashion industry, the vast and heterogeneous cinematic tradition in India has also taken its cues from the nationalist movement. Popular film and music business continues to thrive on the notion of shared identity. It’s a gem of a marketing strategy to release heroism-infused, action-packed, drama films like Manikarnika or Baby around this time.
In fact, Radio stations, TV channels and digital streaming websites too will revise their daily playlist to sync-in with popular public sentiments. The point being, can the nation not move beyond blind faith, masquerading as patriotism? The apparent answer is Yes!
Talking about popular music, here’s a look at some of not-so-apparently patriotic songs, which nevertheless do the trick of instilling a sense of belonging and oneness in people. We all respond to them in an inter-subjective way and they say something to us about ourselves.
-Des Mera Rangrez Ye Babu, Film- Peepli Live (2010), Music- Indian Ocean and Sanjeev Sharma, Vocals by- Indian Ocean, Lyrics by- Indian Ocean
Des Mera Rangrez Ye Babu is an ode to cultural diversity in India. The descriptive lyrics and imagery shown in the video paint a colourful picture of the fact. It satirises daily struggles with a bleak yet lingering sense of hope. The film, in essence, dwells on the fact that if we are to become a truly great nation, we must start opening our eyes to the real issues.
-Jai ho, Film- Slumdog Millionaire (2008), Music- A R Rahman, Vocals By- Sukhvinder Singh, Mahalaxmi Iyer and Vijay Prakash, Lyrics By- Gulzar
Jai Ho is thoroughly upbeat and its palpable energy and rhythm may have contributed towards it winning the coveted Oscar Award for Best Original Song. Jai Ho celebrates the spirit of love and life and belongs to everyone. The track is instantly catchy and Indian at heart.
-Satyamev Jayate, TV Show- Satyamev Jayate (2012- 14), Music- Ram Sampath, Vocals By- Ram Sampath, Keerthi Sagathia, Lyrics By- Prasoon Joshi
Satyamev Jayate has a strong nationalist fervor. Aamir Khan takes us through the geography of our country in the music video and pays tribute to multiculturalism. The melody and tune is immersive. “A love song for India,” as Aamir himself puts it.
-Mera Juta hai Japani, Film- Shree 420 (1955), Music- Shankar Jaikishan, Vocals By- Mukesh, Lyrics By- Shailendra
Liberal at heart, this timeless Raj Kapoor song talks about embracing identity and nationality. Mera Juta hai Japani stirs in us the feeling of being Indian, without stressing too much about it.
Much like last year, passionate endorsement of unwavering dedication towards motherland is certain to stay in vogue. However, such loyalty, for me, is antiquated. If love for one’s country truly runs deep inside, what’s the point in wearing patriotism on one’s shoulder just for the sake of being counted in? This Republic Day, I vow to make India great again. Not how popular culture believes I should. Certainly not by sharing empty rhetoric over Whatsapp messages. Is there a better way to go about it, I wonder?
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