Art & Entertainment

‘Border’ To ‘Chak De India’ – Jingoism In Bollywood Films

While Bollywood is known to heighten up all its emotions, here are a few films that dialled up the patriotic feeling to an altogether different level of jingoism.

Sunny Deol In 'Border'

As the Russia-Ukraine war is on making headlines every other hour of the day, nationalistic, patriotic and war-related films have as well started trending heavily on various social media pages, and on OTT platforms.

Talking of Bollywood films, they are time and again praised for coming up with patriotic content. However, not always is the patriotism subtle. As Indians, there is a lot of love when it comes to content that’s over the top, especially with respect to patriotism. This over the top patriotic feeling or display is nothing but jingoism. Patriotism and its warring cousin, jingoism, has always been a sure shot hit at the box-office always. So, for the unversed, jingoism is a more aggressive form of patriotism, which is more on-your-face.

As Indians are very emotional, the various film industries keep catering to the same jingoistic feeling over and over again, and as Indians, we keep lapping onto them. Remember how veteran Bollywood actor Manoj Kumar was given an imaginary award for being the most patriotic actor in the film, ‘Jaan-e-Mann’ (2006)? That’s precisely how much Indians love to overhype our patriotism and put it on a pedestal.

For example, ‘Chak De India’ is a sports film, but the way filmmaker Shimit Amin has ensured that the elements come out showcases the jingoistic nature of the presentation. There is a scene where the Indian contingency to the Women’s World Cup doesn’t have a sponsor, and suddenly after a few wins at the international championship, a truckload of sponsors come on board and send over sports gear to the girls. The scene ensures that you’re left in tears with a heightened sense of patriotic feeling. Then the fact that the lead character of coach Kabir Khan, played by actor Shah Rukh Khan, was a Muslim man. Had the character not been a Muslim, probably the same sense of oneness and secularism wouldn’t have had come across. If you look through a magnifying glass, you will see that there are numerous such scenes that were put in just to bring out the patriotic feeling in you – and that too in a sports film.

‘Border’, one of the most popular patriotic films that kids from the 1990s grew up to was made by filmmaker JP Dutta, known as the master of war films. There are scenes where actor Sunny Deol just takes up some hand grenades and runs towards the Pakistani tanks, and starts slaughtering people by sheer force of hand. While this is totally unrealistic, but when the scene played in theatres it had one of the loudest cheers. Even now when it comes on the telly, audiences invariably end up cheering up for the victory. Then the way actor Suniel Shetty runs into enemy territory with just a landmine in his hands, and single-handedly gets an enemy tank to explode is too memorable, yet feels like done just for the sake of bringing on the patriotic feeling.

Remember how in 'Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham' actor Shah Rukh Khan and actress Kajol's son, played by actor Jibraan Khan, who is studying in London, suddenly starts singing the Indian national anthem during a stage function. The thing doesn't end here, the other kids, who're not Indias, also start singing the Indian national anthem. Seeing all this, Kajol and Khan stand up amidst the crowd and start feeling oh-so-proud of their son's achievement that Kajol even completes the last couple of verses for her son, who messes it up at the end. Everyone claps! What can be a better example of forcing the love for your country on your face for no apparent reason!

The National anthem has come to the rescue of Indians many a time, and most of the time it is at completely unnecessary junctures in the screenplay, just to bring in a sense of patriotic feeling.

In 'Airlift' starring actor Akshay Kumar, when somehow the Indian refugees are able to flee from Kuwait and enter into Jordan, at the airport of Jordan, a man suddenly gets up on the rooftop of the airport and unfurls an Indian flag. There is barely any logic or explanation behind this, but audiences who're watching the film, suddenly find themselves with a feeling of patriotism - even though it's quite unrealistic. 

Lastly, the web film 'Verse Of War' starring actors Vivek Oberoi and Rohit Roy, which was released on Republic Day 2022, was more jingoistic than patriotic. There were scenes where Oberoi is just praising India to an altogether different level and that too in front of a Pakistani General, who is the jailor of the jail in which Oberoi has been kept after being captured in Pakistani territory. Too much for heroism, and too much for jingoism even.