India’s freedom struggle had many heroes who fought hard to gain Independence from the British.
Hindi cinema has been quick to make movies on these outstanding personalities, some famous, and some not so, to bring to life on screen their heroics during the long quest for freedom.
Such films have been major draws with the audience and it gives them food for thought, start debates on the various issues and how the Indian leaders had addressed them.
On the occasion of Republic Day, we look at films which highlight the pre-Independence era with tales of courage and bravery.
Cast: Dilip Kumar, Manoj Kumar, Shashi Kapoor, Hema Malini, Shatrughan Sinha, Parveen Babi, Sarika, Nirupa Roy, Prem Chopra
Director: Manoj Kumar
Based in the 19th century when India was under British rule, the story revolves around men who fought for India’s Independence. Sangha (Dilip Kumar), Bharat/Kranti (Manoj Kumar), Shakti, a prince, (Shashi Kapoor) and Kareem, a freedom fighter (Shatrughan Sinha), join hands to take on the British.
When the local leader lends his port to the British for trade, they use it instead to smuggle gold and jewellery. The leader is killed and charges of treason slapped on Sangha. However, he escapes and forms an army which multiplies all over. The battle begins.
The Legend of Bhagat Singh (2002)
Cast: Ajay Devgn, Sushant Singh, D Santosh, Akhilendra Mishra, Raj Babbar, Amrita Rao
Director: Rajkumar Santoshi
The story focuses on legendary freedom fighter Bhagat Singh (Devgun) and his friends who gave their lives during India’s freedom struggle. He was affected by the Jallianwala Bagh horror where many Indian soldiers were killed by the British. He swore to rid India of British rule after that.
Bhagat Singh was very impressed with Mahatma Gandhi’s policy of non-co-operation and later went on a hunger strike in jail. However, the British re-opened an old case where Bhagat Singh and his colleagues had killed a British officer and all of them are sentenced to death.
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose: The Forgotten Hero (2004)
Cast: Sachin Khedekar, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Rajit Kapur, Divya Dutta, Asif Zakaria
Director: Shyam Benegal
The life and times of the legendary Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose (Khedekar) has been written and directed by famed filmmaker Shyam Benegal. It focuses on a key period of Netaji’s life when he went to Germany. This happened after a political disagreement over some issues.
After a journey via Afghanistan and Russia among others, he makes it to Germany. Here he uses Indian soldiers and prisoners of war and forms a front. The film also highlights his time in Japanese-occupied Asia.
Mangal Pandey: The Rising (2005)
Cast: Aamir Khan, Rani Mukherjee, Toby Stephens, Ameesha Patel, Kirron Kher
Director: Ketan Mehta
An Indian soldier Pandey (Aamir Khan) plays a key role in sparking the Indian mutiny of 1957 before finally paying with his life. Pandey is befriended by a British soldier Captain William Gordon (Stephens) after the former saves his life.
Things come to a boiling point when Indian soldiers are made to use cartridges allegedly coated with pork or animal fat. This angers them and a mutiny seems to be brewing. The British deny this but it all proves to be a lie when Pandey visits the cartridge factory. Then the rebellion begins.
Rang De Basanti (2006)
Cast: Aamir Khan, Siddarth Narayan, Kunal Kapoor, Atul Kulkarni, Soha Ali Khan, Anupam Kher, Waheeda Rehman, Sharman Joshi, R Madhavan, Alice Patten
Director: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra
The life and times of Bhagat Singh inspires a group of youngsters who rebel and take on the establishment and face the same fate as the great Indian fighter. Sue (Patten), the daughter of the jailer who took part in the hanging of Bhagat Singh, finds her father’s diary and is curious to know what happened and plans a documentary on it.
She meets her friend Sonia (Soha) and casts four of her friends – Daljit “DJ” Singh (Aamir Khan), Karan Singhania (Siddharth Narayan), Aslam Khan (Kunal Kapoor) and Sukhi Ram (Sharman Joshi) – to portray the revolutionaries. However, these young men take their roles too seriously and start a rebellion themselves.