On the occasion of the 61st Independence Day of India, movie heroines on what freedom and national solidarity mean to them. Over to Deepika Padukone, Priyanka Chopra, Preity Zinta and Celina Jaitly.
Independence Day this year is really special. My second film, Bachna Ae Haseeno, releases on the day. And then I’ll be representing our country and film industry at the India Day Parade in New York. This is the 30th year of the India Day Parade. Several big names like Aishwarya Rai and Priyanka Chopra have already been a part of it. This year I’ll be the one. It makes me feel so blessed.
August 15 reminds us of the martyrs who sacrificed their lives so we could be free today. We’ve done well in these last 61 years..we have progressed in all fields. Being a sportsperson myself and coming from a sport family, I feel that sport has still to get its due importance. There’s somuch talent.. but no one to exploit it.
Recently I played an exhibition match with my father (Prakash Padukone). And we won. Dad has formed a foundation, Olympic Quaz Track. At a nostalgic level, Independence Day reminds me of my school days. We would dress desi and I’d either sing or dance with my friends.
During our time, the most popular patriotic song was A R Rahman’s version of Vande Mataram. Like every year, I’ll start the day by watching our Prime Minister Manmohan Singh deliver the nationally televised speech. Then, half the daywill go in promoting my film. In the evening Iwill take a flight toNew York to represent our country at the India Day Parade.
It’s a day when we need to reflect upon the fact that countless freedom strugglers sacrificed their lives for our independence. We need to spare a thought for their families. At the same time, it’s also a day to feel proud of being a democratic republic. As for most of us, my earliest memories of Independence Day are about the flag hoisting ceremonies.
I’d be super-enthusiastic about participating in the parade and singing the national anthem. Then we’d put little flags on our car and go out for a drive. It would be a lovely, nationalistic sight to see other cars with the paper tricolour flags. Being the daughter of an army officer, patriotism was instilled in me very early on in life. I was in the third standard when dad was going away for a month-long camp in Leh. Although I was worried about him, I told him that it was great that he was going. It takes a lot more courage to be in the army. Has it become cool to express one’s patriotism? That’s a Catch-22 situation actually.. if you say I’m proud to be an Indian, some people might say you’re showing off.
If you don’t show any patriotism, then people might say you don’t care. So you don’t know eventually what you should be doing. At the same time, an increasing number of youngsters believe in expressing their love for our country and that too in an overt, clear-mindedway. This Independence Day, I’ll be in Pune. I’ll be shooting till about 2 am the night before.. so I’ll be sleeping till afternoon. Then my family will be driving down from Mumbai to be with me.. so there will be that feeling of solidarity.. of being one with the nation on its momentous day.
With freedom, I associate the image of a bird which soars in the skies. Freedom also means to have a choice of saying yes or no.. and to lead your life the way you want to, breaking away from outdated social norms and superstitions. Independence Day is not the only day for me to be patriotic. My dad was in the army, so I was born patriotic.. even my brother is in the army.
At Independence Day programmes, I would be at my boarding school. It would be a holiday, we’d have a flag hoisting ceremony.We were allowed towear casual clothes, instead of the school uniform. My Independence Day is when I don’t have to work. There was a time when I was shooting for Kya Kehna in Ooty, I was told that since it’s my first movie, I had to work.. I could take a holiday on Independence Day only when I became a big star. Now, let’s see what is the most patriotic thing I’ve ever done? Off hand, I can say it was my Jai Jawan programme for NDTV, I felt good having done something for our soldiers.
Vis-a-vis the mindset of the average Indian today,what can I say? Having studied psychology, all I can say is that I don’t think Indians are truly patriotic. So many sections of our society are clannish and communal. I met this 18-year-old medical student on a return flight from Paris..we got talking.. and he said he didn’t knowa word of Hindi.. though it’s our national language. Like it or not, we have some of the worst leaders. When you see them on television, you’re like, “Come on, give me a break.”
We need leaders who are educated with no criminal record, who are not corrupt. We need clean people. The government has to be transparent. Look at the CEOs of companies, they work in the interest of the company, and hire employees on merit, and not on the basis of caste, creed, religion and contacts. If a politician divides people on the basis of religion, he should be shot down. Earlier there was just one enemy, but now there are so many, and that too from within. But I’m sure we shall overcome.
Independence immediately brings to mind the freedom of thought and expression. Independence Day is a big day not just for me but for every Indian. I’m extremely patriotic and take great pride in being an Indian. At school, August 15 was a momentous event. My dad was in the army. Several dignitaries would be present at the flag hoisting.We would wait for the speeches to be over so we could feast on the nariyal barfis distributed after the flag hoisting ceremony.
I’ve studied in 13 schools since my father would be posted in different parts of the country. But wherever we were, it was a day of coming together and remembering the freedom fighterswho gave us our most wonderful legacy.. independence. This year, I’ll be spending Independence Day with my family at the Army Club in Juhu.
At one point, I wanted to join the army.. but life took a different course, Still, deep down in my heart, I’m an army girl. My brother is in the army.. and I think our family’s next generation will serve the country too. I had joined NCP to get a feel of the uniform, discipline and punctuality. I remember wearing my father’s uniform when Iwas very young. I also wore my brother’s shirt when he got a promotion. He is now representing our country in the United Nation Peace Keeping Force in Lebanon. I feel so proud to see the Indian flag on his chest.
(Compiled by Vajir Singh and Hiren Kotwani)