Bollywood personalities Preity Zinta, JP Dutta and television actor Rajiv Khandelwal, who have army connections, say the Republic Day is very special to them. Others, however, feel that after 60 years of independence the country should bring in some changes.
Preity Zinta: My dad was in the army and now my brother Dipankar is in the army. So I grew up in an atmosphere of soldierly pride. One of the perks of being an army child was that I got to do a Bharat Darshan early in my life. Every two years my father would get transferred, and we'd be in a different place. It was a great learning experience.
The army is very close to my heart. Recently, when I was invited by NDTV to visit the soldiers on the border, I had a ball re-living my army life. Republic Day is very special to us. I still remember attending those early-morning parades in the chilly winter of Delhi. The day reminds us of how much we've achieved and how much we still need to do.
JP Dutta: My brother Deepak, who died on duty, was a squadron leader in the air force. In fact, my very first film Sarhad starring Vinod Khanna, which was not released, was a tribute to my brother. Since then subconsciously or consciously, my war films Border and LOC have been dedicated to my brother.
Not a day goes by when we don't think about him. I feel today's generation isn't motivated enough to join the army and the air force. Films such as mine and earlier the ones by Chetan Anand addressed themselves to the life of the soldiers and the futility of war. But these are themes that no longer attract young people. Sad.
Both my dad and my sister are in the air force. They've both led their respective contingents for the Republic Day parade in New Delhi. January 26 is therefore really special for the entire family. My father lead the three helicopters that fly overhead and shower rose petals. And my sister was the parade commander. I've wonderful memories of childhood when I'd get up before dawn to make it to the parade.
My father was in the army. And my elder brother Col. Sanjeev is currently serving in the army. I was always tempted to be a part of the army. But since my brother had already joined the armed services, I was inclined to go ahead with my other passion, acting.
I'd love to do a film about the army. I enjoyed playing Capt Rajveer in
Left Right Left
. I wonder why the army isn't a sought-after vocation among youngsters today. Is the army losing its sheen or does patriotism no longer have buyers? I feel every student in college should be made to go through a stint in the army.
Bikram Saluja: My mother's brother was in the army. I'd have loved to follow my mama (uncle) into the army. But from as far back as I can remember, I wanted to be a tennis player. Instead I ended up as a model then an actor. In J.P. Dutta's LOC, I got a chance to play a soldier. It made me wonder what life would've been like if I had followed by uncle's dream.
Shabana Azmi: As a child, I remember being bundled into trucks on Republic Day to see the lights at Chowpatty. It was only later that I understood how wonderful our constitution was. Republic Day should become our definitive national festival so that every Indian irrespective of religion can celebrate it.
This Republic Day, I hope and pray that a fair and just rehabilitation policy is put in place for those displaced because of development projects or environmental disasters.
Himesh Reshammiya: Republic Day makes me realise the value of my freedom. We're truly blessed to live in an independent democratic country where everyone has the right to say and do what he likes. On this day, we genuinely need to pay tributes to every person who has contributed to independent India.
I dream of India becoming the richest country in the world and that there is not a single citizen living without food, shelter and clothing. Insha Allah, it will happen. That day isn't far off.
Mahesh Bhatt: There's a magical childhood memory of a time when the city would glitter with lights. My one dream is for the nation to show zero tolerance for female infanticide.
Alisha Chinai: Freedom comes with responsibility. My vision of a new India begins with the eradication of corruption, poverty and with population control. With a nation of over a billion people, we need a benevolent dictator at the helm! On a personal note this Republic Day, I want to make India a better place for singers by closing down all music companies that rip off artistes' royalties.
Lilette Dubey: "Republic Day...time to reflect and evaluate where we are and how much we still need to do. My one dream for this year and every year is to eradicate poverty, reduce the terrible gap between the haves and have-nots. Insha Allah, we'll implement this more vigorously now. After all we are 60!