Once the New Year’s celebrations simmered down, so did our collective resolve to honour our ‘new year, new me’ resolutions. And then, with utter horror, we realised that January, the first month of the year, is still going on!
We’re just 28 days into 2019, and we’ve already had four big (Uri, Manikarnika, The Accidental Prime Minister, and Thackeray) and two obscure films (72 Hours: Martyr Who Never Died and Battalion 609) from Bollywood on politics, patriotism, and what makes for a good patriot. The debates on their intended and unintended political agendas have already been exhausted from all ends of the spectrum. And, there’s still more to come.
One has to keep in mind though that this year is a crucial one for India because of the general elections which are about to take place through April and May.
We still have the Omung Kumar-directed, Vivek Oberoi-starring biopic on our current Prime Minister in the works. Paresh Rawal has also announced that he’s portraying our PM in one of his upcoming films. We still have two other major commercial releases (Salman Khan’s Bharat and Akshay Kumar’s Kesari) lined up for this year. If reports are to be believed, they too have patriotic themes.
Manikarnika: The Queen Of Jhansi is one such film where the notion of a unified India (which didn’t exist during the reign of Rani Laxmibai) is used to further the message of loving your motherland in the face of invasive attacks from vicious “outsiders” without question. Then there was The Accidental Prime Minister, a film so shoddily made that even the ones who called for its ban for portraying certain Congress leaders in “bad light” ended up demanding a better brand of propaganda.
Of course, they had already got Uri: The Surgical Strike, a subtle but definitely jingoistic celebration of the politics of hatred that has long existed between India and Pakistan. We have also got Thackeray, the Nawazuddin-starring biopic on Bal Thackeray that glorifies the leader who built his legacy by playing into divisive Hindutva politics.
Some filmmakers could argue that releasing political films in an election year makes for good business sense. While debates are still raging on about the ethics of doing so, some people have argued that, even though Bollywood has a long history of making politically charged films, the offerings this year seem to be more partisan in nature. However, many have completely written off such concerns by saying things that basically echo the sentiment, “Haters gonna hate, potatoes gonna potate”.
So, which one are you spending your popcorn money on this season?