‘Newton’ to ‘Gunjan Saxena’, 7 Films That Redefine ‘Patriotism’

Not your regular independence day watch list.

Published
Hot Take
4 min read
Not your regular independence day watch list.
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So Independence Day is, once again, round the corner. But before you roll your eyes thinking that this is one of those redundant 'patriotic films to watch on Independence day' lists - let me just clarify that it's not. Well, it is... but not exactly.

Call me too 'modern' or 'millennial' or whatever, but I'm over the traditional portrayal of 'patriotism.' War films just aren't relatable anymore - they're too cliche and on-the-nose. And films like Gadar, which earned over Rs 1 billion at the box office, with its really violent portrayal of patriotism (remember the scene where Sunny Deol pulls the hand-pump out of the ground?) just don't work anymore. Thankfully, we've gone beyond that and learned to redefine what 'patriotism' means for us.

1. 'Newton' - The Common Man's Fight For Democracy

‘Newton’ to ‘Gunjan Saxena’, 7 Films That Redefine ‘Patriotism’
(Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia Commons)

If you ask me, there's nothing more patriotic than a common government employee fighting tooth and nail to preserve democracy. The Rajkummar Rao-starrer film is a bittersweet tale of a man named Nutan who unexpectedly comes face-to-face with his own country's shortcomings. Unlike other 'patriotic' films, there's no victory in this one. It's also not a black and white story of good over evil. However, it's in Newton that we find hope, conviction and a unquestionable love for preserving India's sanctity.

2. 'Raazi' - Because Our Most Patriotic Heroes Are Humans Too

‘Newton’ to ‘Gunjan Saxena’, 7 Films That Redefine ‘Patriotism’
(Photo Courtesy: IMDB)

As far as films about Indian undercover spies are concerned, there isn't one quite like Meghna Gulzar's Raazi. In Raazi, Sehmat (Alia Bhatt) is unexpectedly pulled into the double life and sent to Pakistan as an undercover RAW agent. Most Bollywood films tend to unnecessarily glorify such portrayals but that's not the case with Raazi. Gulzar's film shows the gritty reality of being a RAW agent. Sehmat realises the price she has to pay for her actions; she's not blind to the downside of giving up your whole identity to fight for your country. But that awareness is what makes her better and sharper at her job.

3. 'Chak De! India' - When It Comes to Your Country, Go Big or Go Home

‘Newton’ to ‘Gunjan Saxena’, 7 Films That Redefine ‘Patriotism’
(Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia Commons)

Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Chak de! India was most definitely ahead of its time. It addressed the rising communal divide in India before that was even a thing to worry about. But what really stands out is how non-violently the film explores communal tensions. Unlike other 'patriotic' films, Chak de! India goes beyond the borders of India and talks about patriotism and love for one's nation at a global level. It's one man's journey of trying to prove himself while also uplifting women and creating a name for India on the world map.

4. 'Dangal' - Medal Toh Lana Hai, Chhora Ho Ya Chhori

‘Newton’ to ‘Gunjan Saxena’, 7 Films That Redefine ‘Patriotism’
(Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia Commons)

The reason why biopics are patriotic films in nature is because they tell the stories that have created India's identity. Aamir Khan-starrer Dangal is the story of how sisters Geeta and Babita Phogat became world-class female wrestlers. In a country that runs on the backs of women's unpaid labour, Dangal is a celebration of Indian womanhood, of victory, and of strength. It goes beyond traditional gender roles dictated by society to give one message loud and clear - that it doesn't matter who wins, what matters is that we win.

5. 'Sui Dhaaga' - Make In India To Make It Big

‘Newton’ to ‘Gunjan Saxena’, 7 Films That Redefine ‘Patriotism’
(Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia Commons)

Starring Anushka Sharma and Varun Dhawan, Sui Dhaga is a heartwarming tale of success. After starting their own clothing business from scratch, Mamta and Mauji are duped by a big company. But they rediscover their strength by entering a national competition where their brand 'Sui Dhaaga: Made In India' wins! At the heart of the film is an unwavering faith in one's own potential and perseverance. The theme of patriotism is beautifully weaved into a story that might look ordinary but actually isn't.

6. 'Swades' - A Glimpse Into The Real India

‘Newton’ to ‘Gunjan Saxena’, 7 Films That Redefine ‘Patriotism’
(Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia Commons)

Starring Shah Rukh Khan, Swades is a timeless film that follows the story of a NRI's return to India. His brief visit to India is determined by an objective to find his relative and take her to the US with him, but overtime he begins to get involved in the village life. Swades takes us to the hinterland and helps us discover the little joys as well as the struggles that comprise the mundane existence. A majority of India's population today resides in smaller towns and villages, and it's these lives that truly form the backbone of the country.

7. 'Gunjan Saxena' - Chasing Your Own Dreams For Your Own Country

‘Newton’ to ‘Gunjan Saxena’, 7 Films That Redefine ‘Patriotism’
(Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia Commons)

The best thing about the 21st century is that we've seen a gradual shift from 'patriotism' as a war-related feeling to 'patriotism' as a more dynamic feeling. The Kargil War was undoubtably one of India's most defining moments but we forget that the people who participated in the war, their lives went beyond just fighting at the border. In the Janhvi Kapoor-starrer Gunjan Saxena, we see one such story of India's only female IAF pilot to fight in the Kargil war. Gunjan Saxena might be a personal story before everything else but it shows just how intricately one's identity is informed by one's patriotic love for their country.

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