This is the day of the year when 'Aye mere watan ke logon', 'Vande Mataram' , 'I love my India' on the radio can make you go all misty-eyed. No matter how foolish you feel, you buy a paper flag and let it flutter outside the car window.
To help celebrate the spirit of Independence Day, here are 10 films that make you feel good about waving the tricolour.
Ramesh Saigal's charming patriotic drama came a little after Independence, but was one of the few films set against the backdrop of Netaji's Indian National Army.
Ashok Kumar plays a rich guy who gives up his comfortable life to join the INA. His brother (Shyam) is a British officer and the two are on opposite sides of the fence. The leading ladies are a vampish spy (Kuldip Kaur) and her innocent sister (Nalini Jaywant) who falls in love with the hero. The very watchable film had the evergreen 'Gore gore baanke chore' number, as well as the patriotic 'Kadam kadam badhaye ja'.
Saigal had also made Shaheed, a Dilip Kumar-Kamini Kaushal starrer about a young Bhagat Singh-like martyr. <b1>
Mother India (1957)
The mother of all idealistic stories, Mehboob Khan's classic extols the strength of Indian womanhood and the moral courage of the common citizen. When the heroine (Nargis) shoots down her own rebellious son, she represents the post-Independence Indian who put the interest of the community/country before his/her own.
It may seem unbelievable in today's times, when almost everyone in power puts personal profit above everything else.
You can't talk patriotism and not include Manoj Kumar's Upkaar in the list. The film which was inspired by Lal Bahadur Shastri's Jai Jawan Jai Kisan slogan, had the farmer hero Bharat (Manoj Kumar) join the army and also help fight anti-national villains.
The 'Mere desh ki dharti' song is an I-day staple. Manoj Kumar's Purab Aur Paschim and Kranti also explored patriotic themes, earning him the nickname of Mr Bharat.
Saat Hindustani (1969)
K.A. Abbas's Saat Hindustani has been immortalized as Amitabh Bachchan's debut film, but it was a stirring, inspiring tale of six men from different parts of India getting together with a girl in Portuguese occupied Goa to participate in the fight for liberation. In the process they forget their differences and discover what national integration is all about.<b2>
Subhash Ghai's multi-starrer was led by the redoubtable Dilip Kumar. He fought the terrorist gang of the evil Dr Dang (Anupam Kher) with the help of three condemned criminals (Naseeruddin Shah, Anil Kapoor, Jackie Shroff) had a familiar plot reworked to incorporate a savethe-nation angle.
When the country is in danger, patriotism can be aroused even in a criminal and three of them can defeat a well-organised network. It was an enjoyable thriller anyway, with the very hummable song '
Dil diya hai jaan bhi denge aye watan tere liye'
Mani Ratnam's Roja, was about Kashmir militancy affecting a Tamil family sending out clear warnings, that nobody is safe from treacherous villains. It also talks of ordinary people responding to extraordinary circumstanceswith superhuman courage. The scene in which the hero (Arvind Swamy), kidnapped by militants, throws himself on the burning national flag to put out the flames, invites wild applause every time.
J.P. Dutta's war film may have had every soldier clich in the book, but the fact that it was based on true-life incidents, and had a lot of blood and thunder patriotic ranting, appealed to a wide section of the audience. Who does not like to see the Paki enemy decimated by a bunch of macho, kick-ass dudes like Sunny Deol and company in Border? Later Sunny Deol's patriot act became a permanent fixture in his films (Indian, Ma Tujhe Salaam , Gadar), but he was very convincing as the Sikh soldier in this one. <b3>
John Mathew Matthan's debut film does not have an obvious desh bhakti message, but the cop v/s terrorist plot has elements that envelop idealism, duty, loyalty, nationalism, family values and courage in an intelligent, almost realistic format. The audience feels that if the country is in the hands of Amar Singh Rathod and his band of brave men, it is safe.
This Ashutosh Gowariker-Aamir Khan film was hyped beyond belief, but what works for it is the rah-rah feel good factor that gilli-danda playing villagers took up the cricket challenge and whipped the firangi at his own game on his own turf. So what if it's only a film, it is a great Mera Bharat mahaan fantasy. And the fact that it made it to the Oscar nomination made every Indian moviegoer chest swell with pride and a sense of collective achievement. <b4>
The Legend of Bhagat Singh (2002)
Why this Rajkumar Santoshi filmmakes the grade above other biopics about leaders of the freedom movement (Gandhi, Sardar Savarkar, Ambedkar), is that it came at a time when the young generation feels that the independence struggle is just a boring history lesson. It managed to be engrossing, educative and entertaining at the same time.
A pity that other Bhagat Singh films crowded the market and rained on this one's parade.