These days, if somebody asks you, 'How's the Josh?'. Your answer in an instant would be 'High Sir' and it's not merely because it is the 70th Republic Day. It's because this powerful slogan from 2019's first blockbuster Uri: The Surgical Strike has resonated with the audience. The Vicky Kaushal-starrer has triggered just the right amount of patriotism among viewers and thereafter made its position strong at the box office.
Over the years, Bollywood has made sure that it hooks onto the very feeling of nationalism through its films. The cult films of Hindi cinema, like Mother India, Border, Gadar- Ek Prem Katha and Lagaan- Once Upon A Time In India, have made a special place in the hearts of the audience.
Traditionally, the genre had two kinds of films. One is the social drama, those defining the lead characters and the dedication of the sons of the soil to their motherland, like Swades. And second, that took up a more aggressive stance, portraying life on the front line with the likes of Border, LOC Kargil and The Legend of Bhagat Singh.
Then came patriotic sports dramas like Chak De! India, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Dangal, Mary Kom and Gold, to name a few. These films were more of a personal journey of the protagonist, albeit against the backdrop of nationalism.
Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra's Rang De Basanti was a refreshing take on patriotism, a film that struck a chord with the youth that had heard stories about freedom fighters and their struggle, but couldn't really connect to it. The film did bridge that gap.
But there was a period when the theme of nationalism in cinema was not so prominent. There was a void when none of the films packed a powerful patriotic punch.
Even though John Abraham's last two releases Parmanu- The Story of Pokhran and Satyamev Jayate were made on similar theme and did fairly well, and box office numbers are proof, they, somehow, failed to leave any lasting impact.
Meghna Gulzar's Raazi was both critically and commercially acclaimed, and is definitely a nationalistic film, but again, it was a more about one person's journey and a celebration of the unsung heroes.
It is after a long time that a war-based film like Uri has triumphed at the box office, the reason being it's intriguing plotline rendering the immoral and ruthless Uri attack on Indian soldiers and India's fierce response to it. It wouldn't be wrong to say that Uri kind of brought back the fashion of cult patriotic films in Bollywood.
And it is only the first of more patriotic-themed films coming up this year. The film precedes Kangana Ranaut's Republic Day release Manikarnika- The Queen of Jhansi. Later in the year, we have Akshay Kumar's Kesari and Mission Mangal, John Abraham's RAW and Batla House and Ajay Devgn's Taanaji - The Unsung Warrior to continue with the patriotic fervour.
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